Cultural identity is a very important aspect of our self. It is what we see of ourselves; it makes up our personal identity. “Limbo” and “Half Caste” are two poems by Edward Kamau Brathwaite and John Agard respectively. They both discuss the concept of cultural identity. The poets have constructed this issue using poetic devices such as themes, structure and language.
First of all, “Limbo” and “Half Caste” comprises of themes and ideas to do with race and culture. The poem, “Limbo”, incorporates themes of racial discrimination and religion. “Limbo” compares slavery to being in limbo, the place Romans believed to have existed at the edge of hell (hell being divided into four sections) or between heaven and hell. “Limbo” also makes reference to the Caribbean dance, Limbo. “Half Caste” explores a range of themes to do with the discrimination of dark-skinned people and the use of the word “half-caste”. “Half Caste” uses imagery to make comparisons between being a half-caste and half-caste objects. These themes are explored through language.
The language and the structure allow the poet to enhance the concept of cultural identity further. “Limbo” consists of 23 fragmented stanzas in free verse. The absence of punctuation helps the poem flow. In addition “Limbo” has a strong beat, making reference to the game. The word, “Limbo”, is often in a line by itself, indicating that the reader should say the word slowly to be in time with the rhythm. The chorus, “limbo limbo like me”, enhances the rhythm but it later changes into “down down down” and “up up up”. “Limbo” also has an inconsistent rhyme pattern. Most lines end with “me” and the end of the second lines of two stanzas end with the words “ready” and “steady”.
“Half Caste” consists of 4 stanzas with very short lines due to Agard’s use of enjambment. This creates the tone of a fast-paced ranting at the reader. The repetition of the words “explain yuself wha yu mean” gives the poem a Caribbean dance-like...