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Nada Hammad

on 25 January 2015

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Island Man
Stanza 1
And the Island man wakes up
To the sound of blue surf
In his head
The steady breaking and wombing

Wild seabirds
And fisherman puling out to sea
The sun surfacing defiantly

From the east
Of his small emerald island
He always comes back groggily
The first stanza of five lines tells us that it is morning and that the man hears the sounds of the island 'in his head' as he wakes up. These are the sounds of nature, of the sea: 'blue surf' and waves 'breaking and wombing'. Wombing is an unusual verb used by Shakespeare to mean 'enclosing'; it is the final word of the first stanza but leads through enjambment to the 'wild seabirds' in the first line of the second stanza.
In stanza two, which is six lines long, Nichols continues the theme of dreaming about the island as the fisherman set out to sea and the sun rises 'defiantly' . The images are again based in nature, and the colors in these initial stanzas are rich and beautiful: 'blue surf' and 'his small emerald island'.
Stanza two ends, however, with the phrase that tells us how the man has to emerge from his dream 'groggily groggily'; these words set to one side to emphasis that the dream has ended and a different setting is being introduced. The repetition of 'groggily' also serves to portray the idea that this is a reluctant, slow awakening.
Stanza 2
The Third stanza consists of four lines, repeating the phrase 'comes back' from the end of the preceding stanza. Nichols tells us here that he comes back to 'sands', but as we continue to the next line we realise that these are metaphorical sands 'of a grey metallic soar'. The natural images change to man-made ones, and the beauty of the island's colours has switched to grey. The sounds of the sea have now turned into those of London traffic, with a 'surge of wheels' and a 'roar' on the North Circular road; the use of the adjective 'dull' to describe the road echoes the greyness two lines earlier. The 'surge of wheels' in line fourteen is pushed to one side as was the phrase 'groggily groggily', almost as though the man is trying to push the sounds of London out of his head.
Stanza 3
Enjambment is again used to connect to the fourth stanza which opens with the phrase 'muffling muffling', this time echoing the repetition of 'groggily groggily' and suggesting once again that there is a struggle to shut out one set of sounds.
Stanza 4
comes back to sands
Of a grey metallic soar
To surge of wheels
To dull North Circular roar

Muffling muffling
His crumpled pillow waves
Island man heaves himself

Another London day
Island Man

Written by: Grace Nichols
By: Nada
in a rebellious manner
Made up word the way waves hit rocks

Staggering, as from exhaustion or blows
To dampen the sound
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