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Lorna Goodison uses a wide range of poetic devices to discuss universal themes.

The above statement is one that have great merits upon which one can totally agree

with after reading the selected poems (Nanny, I am becoming my mother, For my

mother {may I inherit half her strength}, Mother, the great stones got to move).In

these poems Goodison often focuses on women's issues such as sexuality, equality,

love, and motherhood which essentially falls under universal themes because it

is relatable to all cultures. In her poems she also highlights racial issues and the

plight of the oppressed. Goodison makes this possible by using a combination of

various poetic devices such as verse, setting and symbol among others, which will

be discussed more in depth in the essay.

In the selected work chosen to be analyzed, a reoccurring seam runs throughout all
of Goodison's poems. When she writes of women, she writes with an
understanding of their situation, whatever that situation might be. She notes the
struggles of the poor Jamaican in a world that has many luxuries. Goodison praises
such people as Winnie Mandela and Rosa Parks not just for being strong, but for
overcoming hardship in the face of almost insurmountable odds. Her verse
captures the daily battle for dignity of the oppressed in society. In “I Am Becoming
My Mother", a wonderful, straightforward poem, pays homage to the poet's mother
and recognizes her strengths, resilience, and vulnerability. Here, and in “For My
Mother (May I Inherit Half Her Strength)” Goodison writes without homesickness,
and infuses these poems with sincerity, gratitude, love, and the beauty of the
commonplace. In “I Am Becoming My Mother" repetition of the lines ‘I am
becoming my mother// brown/yellow woman // fingers smelling always of
onions.’’ to point out the obvious fact that she is becoming her mother which can
be noted that there is nothing wrong with it, given the fact that Goodison already
reiterates the emotion that her mother is a very strong, hardworking, black woman
.Repetition is a technique used by contemporary poets ever so often to highlight a
specific point, I’m of the opinion this ties into the tradition of the society which is
that the male usually takes pride in becoming like his father and the female in
becoming like her mother. She also highlights the loving tenderness of a mother by
stating ‘My mother raises rare blooms and waters them with tea’ by mentioning
this line Goodison compares the love of a mother to her children to that of an
individual watering flowers with tea, it can be looked at as being dangerous but tea
is taken in this instance to have extra nutrients and can make the flowers flourish.
Her vulnerability in this instance was the face that even though a mother/woman
goes through this all she still protects her family and feels for their well being ‘to
pull shame out of her eye’ a mother usually goes through hell to give her
offspring heaven on earth. Generally in I am becoming my mother Goodison
evokes the feeling of continuity of motherhood and the sense of family on the other
hand in “For My Mother (May I Inherit Half Her Strength)” for the inception we
see the poet holds her mother in high regards and at a position even to she cannot
reach because from reading the title of the poem the reader gets the sense that the
poem is going to be about this mighty woman/mother. In this poem Goodison
addresses a number of universal themes such as the fixed requirements of
women/settled customs placed on them by society “And on her wedding day she
wept, for it was brazen in those days for a wife who smiled” to the vulnerability
shown by her mother after the fact that the father committed adultery and the
mother whether conscious of this fact or not never addresses the issue while again
the soft nature is highlighted of a woman through the metaphorical comparison of
bananas being delivered out of their skins. Goodison all in all as mentioned earlier
deals with a lot of issues in a manner that empowers women. Aside for the more
passive approach to women in the two previous mentioned poems in Nanny and
Mother, the great stones got to move, Goodison uses these poetic devices in a more
radical manner to address issues that were to great of a deal to highlight the soft
inactive nature of women, in a sense she uses these poems to address the ‘bulls by
the horn’ bulls in this case being the oppressive nature of the society against
women. In Nanny Goodison focuses on history, legend, traditions, symbol and
image, It makes a statement about womanhood and gender and about personal
sacrifices and triumph. She utilizes contrast and opposites to give the reader a
better insight into what she intends to reveal “I became most knowing
And forever alone” this line evokes the reader’s thought into deep thinking
because the one tries to find out how can one become knowing yet forever alone
this speaks also about the fact that women generally were unrecognized or should I
say simply looked over in a sense regardless of their contribution. In this poem
Nanny, She often focuses on slavery and the concept of ancestry “sold me to the
trader,” there is a strong focus on the woman, and feminism will be satisfied by
the way the poem celebrates the woman as a leader within a tradition of patriarchy
– a leader of a community, a leader of men, and the triumph of womanhood not
over men, but over slavery and over history “All my weapons within me I was
sent, tell that to history.” On the other hand “Mother, the Great Stones Got to
Move” in which mother and womanhood is the theme tries to limit itself to scenes
of domestic conflict. But Goodison’s uses her writing technique much broader than
that. Makes reference to the lineage of Caribbean women, Goodison confronts the
imperial history of the Caribbean, political tribalism and drug trafficking “Roll
away stone of poisoned powders” as equally oppressive forces in the lives of the
powerless for whom she speaks. Yet the voice in the poem is never high-pitched.
Slowly the plea becomes tangible: “Mother these great stones got to move.”

Universal themes are generally brought forward and expressed through poetic
devices by various poets whether it be the traditional poets or the contemporary
ones. Goodison gives a classic example of how professionals target epidemics and
social issues through craftiness their writings.