Keywords: search for my tongue analysis, search for my tongue british anthology
The autobiographical poem is about the discord of identity, of two tongues. The poet, living in a international country, speaking a spanish, is scared of dropping her mother tongue. She doubts it could rot and pass away. The poem explains to us of how she then longs for her mother tongue returning as she sleeps: blossoming, growing back again. It reflects the idea that our vocabulary is our identification. The poem shows the importance of identity in various ways. When she explains losing her mom tongue over her other terminology she is getting rid of an integral part of herself: 'if you'd two tongues inside you and lost the first one, the mom tongue'. 'Search for my tongue' represents one common and modern turmoil which many can relate with and even empathise towards.
The framework of the poem expresses the poets sense and ideas about id. 'Search for my tongue' has an obvious three part layout which symbolises the poet's emotions about her divided individuality. The obviously divided stanzas symbolise divided culture and identification and the difficulties of being fluent in two languages are indicated in the first stanza. 'You cannot use them both together, although you may thought that way'.
There is strong imagery in the poem which represents the poet's emotions about her divided personality. She imagines that knowing two dialects is similar to having two tongues she compares her tongue to a rose: 'would rot and die, it grows back again, grows strong veins' there are two main images created throughout the poem which comparison one another. The first being the mom tongue rotting and dying as the other foreign tongue takes over. It contrasts greatly with the next image which is more positive and enjoyable, her mother tongue blossoms and shoots up such as a plant. She is thrilled when she realises: 'every time I believe I have ignored, I believe I've lost the mother tongue, it blossoms out of my oral cavity'.
The poem goes from detailing what its prefer to lose your mother tongue: 'your mother tongue would rot, rot and pass away in your mouth' to showing the pleasure of rediscovering it: 'it grows back again the bud starts, the bud opens in my oral cavity, it pushes the other tongue away' therefore has a changing shade.
'I ask you what do you do if you'd two tongues in your mouth area' this quotation emphasises that, for the article writer, being able to speak two languages has led to complications. 'I ask you' requires the audience in the problem making the reader empathise with Bhatt.
Lines 17-30 are written in Guajarati with phonetic spelling. The phonetic spelling allows those who aren't bilingual to also relate to the poem. But the use of another terms could also be a way of disorientating the reader, as those who find themselves not bilingual wouldn't normally understand it. The Guajarati stanza explains the comeback of her mother tongue and also gives the impression that even if you forget your mom tongue, you still dream in your indigenous tongue: 'but over night whilst I perfect it grows back again' and it'll never leave you. The Guajarati lines are translated immediately soon after, this symbolises the come back of her mom tongue. The structure expresses the problem of personal information of the poet. She puts the Guajarati 'tongue' in the centre of the poem as if it is the heart and soul of her being.
The Guajarati area of the poem shows us her mother tongue visually and emphasises the difference from British. The English terminology also contrasts throughout the poem as she runs on the more informal methodology at the start making it sound like she's speaking with the audience about her problem: 'you ask me what I suggest' whilst by the end she uses more metaphoric language.
Metaphorical language is utilized in the poem to show ideas about identity. The poets tongue is described as a full time income thing. Within the poem 'Search for my tongue' there is an prolonged metaphor of her tongue being like a blossom growing in her mouth: 'expands longer, grows moist, grows strong veins' and words like bud an blossoms show that its growing back and create the impression that her tongue is rooted in her. It emphasises her emotions about her identity arriving through her mom tongue.
Using Guajarati shows the two languages working in her life and makes a robust point in the poem. It shows the comparison of both dialects. The Guajarati has more 'plosives' which is tough sounding, whereas in contrast the English is softer sounding. The positioning of the Guajarati: at the main of the poem with English either side from it, provides impression that both languages are able to function mutually in her life. The languages changing in the poems also represent her struggle to find her identification, representing no fixed personal information but different levels that adjust to the environment, not frozen at a time or place.
The poem 'presents from my aunts in Pakistan' uses the knowledge of receiving cultural clothes from Pakistan to explore a sense of shared culture and personality. It also tasks the issue of divided culture and divided family members. The idea of using a representation of id is repeated in Alvis poem but there is a more materialistic strategy in comparison to Bhatt's attempts.
The technique of a symbolic framework is also true in Alvi's poem. 'Presents' does not have an orthodox composition but includes distinguishable stanzas organised as free moving verses. The lines move forward and backward as if to symbolise the move between the two cultures. The free flowing verses also enable the sentences to contain unexpected pauses and then continue on the next series (Enjambment). This carries on throughout the complete poem supplying it a hint of suspense. The composition could also stand for a trail of thoughts as they resemble the path a persons mind would take whilst wondering slowly moving moving in one idea to the next.
Alvi also contrasts British culture with Asian culture as does Bhatt with the dialects. She receives gifts of clothes, shoes and bangles from her relatives. In the first stanza they may be referred to carefully and in huge fine detail to stress their difference to English clothes. An image of an exotic and colourful outfit is merged in the readers head from the explanation. The bright colorings of the salwar kameez suggest the familiar sign of unique clothes worn by Asian women, however when she says: 'candy-striped goblet bangles snapped, drew blood' it is creating a graphic, symbolising how her traditions harms her. It can be assumed she feels, as if it isn't 'functional' for the lifestyle of a female in the western world or it could be a means of displaying how her Pakistani history was cut short and 'snapped' like the bangle.
In compare she does indeed secretly admire the clothes, envying their beauty and feels intimidated by them: 'I could never be as lovely as those clothes'. She mentions sense 'alien' when putting on them.
The poem also shows her in two brains when she 'longs' for denim and corduroy, indicating the English aspect of her characteristics but also needs her parents 'very Pakistani' camel skin lamp. This symbolises the conflict of her identity.
There is strong imagery in the poem as Alvi uses thorough and vivid descriptions to build up an image entwined with personal interpretation. That is cleverly carried out throughout the whole poem.
In the poem she recalls the function of her mother's jewellery being taken. She comments how important the jewellery was to her mother as she 'appreciated' the Indian gold. The fact from it being stolen perhaps shows how her mom wasn't part of the Asian culture.
She then once again admires the clothes and state governments 'the presents were radiant in my wardrobe'. This stanza ends with the irony that the aunts who directed the original clothes themselves wanted cardigans from Grades & Spencer.
'I often respected the mirror work, tried to glance myself in the small glass circles'. The fact that they were so small means Alvi wouldn't normally have had the opportunity to see her whole reflection, just a section which underlines the thought of a split identification. She briefly recalls her voyage from Pakistan to England. 'Prickly heat possessed me screaming on the way' emphasises pain and the difficulty of being divided between two cultures.
She attempts to visualise her birthplace using images. She reads about the issue in Pakistan in the newspaper publishers talking about it as a fractured land, which shown her fractured identification. She pictures her aunts, screened from male tourists by fretwork, wrapping presents.
She considers 'beggars, sweeper-girls'. She pictures herself: 'of no permanent nationality'. This shows she feels no sense of owed. Like her aunts, she is behind a screen, the display screen symbolises section and prevents her from witnessing the complete image.
The clothes make her humiliated as she blushes: 'my outfit clung to me and I was aflame' she then says: 'I couldn't rise up out of its flame, half English, unlike aunt Jamila' and feedback on her presumably Pakistani aunt Jamila and exactly how she can 'surge up out of its flame' by being bold enough to wear such garments and look properly natural. Her half English heritage makes such display seem unnecessary. She feels as though her half English heritage contains her again from looking natural. Alvi: not being as daring, 'longs for denim and corduroy' plainer but comfortable and inconspicuous.
Moniza Alvi shows a paradox as she secretly admires the presents but felt these were too exquisite for her and lacked block credibility. That is shown when her school good friend is 'unimpressed' by her clothing.
Moniza Alvi tends to use more descriptive terminology in her poem and does not use many metaphors but frequently explains in detail accumulating images for the audience. Whereas Bhatt uses more colloquial vocabulary at the start and then continues on to make use of more metaphoric terminology including a protracted metaphor: Alvi will not.
The other similarity between the poems is the tense. Both poems have a changing tense, reflecting the thought of changing personal information.
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