Brathwaite “Wings of a Dove” 720
This poem needs to be read aloud. It imitates aspects of Rasta speech. Rastafarians
reject the language of the white oppressor that carries within it the oppression of
Africans. They have invented their own kind of speech. They also believe that the
Bible, which promises that Africans shall be redeemed, has been twisted by white
oppressors to encourage the oppressed to accept their oppression. Rastasfarians try
to restore the true meaning of the Bible.
Blessed are the poor: these are the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the
meek for they shall inherit the earth.
Ganja: marijuana, a holy drug among Rastafarians.
I Rastafa-I: Rastafarians do not say “me” (the position of object) but always say “I”
(to emphasize that they are agents who act).
Babylon: in the Bible the Jews are carried into exile to Babylon. Rastafarians call
the white world Babylon and see themselves as exiles in Babylon.
Trench town, the Dungle: poor neighbourhoods in Kingston.
Rise and walk: what Jesus told the cripple whom he miraculously cured
Brown man: people of mixed race who, in Jamaica since independence, have
historically held power
Browns: see brown man above
Atwood “Marsh Languages” 796
This poem laments the many languages that are disappearing as English conquers.
In English “I” is separate from others and from the world. In English there is only
either/or. There is not both/and.
Gutturals: sounds from deep in the throat
This poem uses no vowels except “e.” That is the point.
Exegete: someone who interprets texts
Esthetes: people who care only for art and beauty
Screed: long rant
Plebes: ordinary people (from plebian)
Repetend: something that repeats
Demesne: property of a nobleman
Serfs: peasants in bondage to a lord