Poems No More Boomerang and Island Man

The poem “Island Man” by Grace Nichols is about a Caribbean man living in London who still wakes up to the sound of the sea. The poem “No More Boomerang” by Kath Walker is about how white men have changed Australian aboriginals’ traditional, native life to a supposed higher standard of living brought in by “Western Civilization”.

“Island Man” is about how a man has had to move from his home in the Caribbean to Britain and experience another culture in London, whereas “No More Boomerang” is from an Australian aboriginal’s perspective on the effect that white men have on their way of life.

The poems are similar in the sense of change and the people involved disliking it and not wanting to accept it. Both characters in the poems prefer their lives the way they were, and go on to compare the present to past. The Island man still hears the sounds of the sea.

These thoughts of the past are in his head, “Wakes up to the sound of blue surf”.

He grieves for the past; he feels he has lost a part of himself. “Steady breaking and wombling” suggest the nurturing nature of sleep and sea, safety in womb as a baby or wombling curve of the wave. He requires the surroundings of his home.” Sun surfacing defiantly” like the way the Island man refuses to forget his homeland.

“No More Boomerang” uses vocabulary of the aboriginal background. Words such as “Lubras” which means women and phases like “Colour Bar and beer”.

This can have two different meanings a separation of races or the bar where alcohol is served. I think “No More Boomerang” is written in his accent and dialect. One example in the poem “No More Spear” shows that this is written from an Australian aboriginal way of speech. If this were Standard English the word “spear” would be plural. Another would be “No more message-stick” and the use of slang “Catch a few bob” which means get some money.

“Island Man” only rhymes once through out the poem “metallic soar” and “Circular roar” but” No More Boomerang” rhymes every second and fourth verse. “No More Boomerang” has a rhythm unlike “Island Man”. “Island Man” uses lots of imagery and descriptions to create a clear image in your mind. For instance he talks about his home in the Caribbean he refers it as…”Small emerald Island”. He describes his Island full of lush, strong greenery which is the opposite of London “grey metallic soar” dull, hard, gloomy colours. Whereas in “No More Boomerang” she uses a lot metaphors and similes as an explanation of their message rather then the use of vivid descriptions. “Work like a nigger for a white man meal” they are trying to in impose their underpayment for the hard work they have to endure. Also “Black hunted wallaby” and “White hunt dollar” sending the message that black people hunt for food and white people only care about money.

“Island Man” uses sounds effects like “Muffling muffling” the Island man tries to drown out the noise of the city with his pillows “surge of wheels” the traffic of London is strange to his usual sounds and surroundings. The two poems are structured and set out rather differently. You can notice this by looking at the way text is written. Length wise also “No More Boomerang” is twice as long.

The mood in “Island Man” changes the tone from joyfully listening to the sound of the sea to miserable and depressing. “Heaves himself” the effect of leaving his dream and getting back to reality he finds it a real struggle “Groggily groggily” the poet uses repetition to lengthen the effect this word has. He doesn’t want to wake up, to the same day in day out boring routine of “Another London day”.

The mood of “No More Boomerang” does not change throughout the poem. He has a sarcastic tone but he feels nostalgic at the same time angry. “No more fire sticks that made the whites scoff” he feels annoyed as the whites mock him and says “No better off” sarcastically.

At first I thought these poems were opposites but I have come to realise their similarities as well as their differences. The people in the poems are similar in their nostalgia and sadness about the past and not wanting to accept the transformations their lives have had to encounter. The differences would be the way they are structured and the language used by the poets; how they express there ideas and messages across to the reader are dissimilar, but both work very well.

I like both these poems for separate reasons “No More Boomerang” because it is so powerful and the use of vocabulary of the aboriginals way of life. I enjoyed “Island Man” for the reason that it makes you feel for the man in the poem, you want him to be able to return home. It makes you interact with the poem.

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