Please provide an analysis of the poem "Hurricane Hits England" by Grace Nichols, including literary/poetic devices used such as language, themes, imagery, tone, structure, etc.

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This poem uses the symbolism of a natural occurrence, the eponymous storm, as a positive force that brings a feeling of hope and an assurance of life to the speaker.

We are told immediately that:

It took a hurricane to bring her closer

To the landscape.

The title of the poem provides us with a kind of paradox, because we usually don't associate hurricanes with England or with Europe in general. This is the anomaly that is the key to the poem's message. It's also a paradox that a destructive storm is construed as a life-giving force. The underlying metaphor is that of the hurricane's bringing together of continents and, by extension, peoples.

Nichols personifies the hurricane with symbolic names—though perhaps we should say she apotheosizes it, because these are names of gods: Oya (in Yoruba, the Niger river goddess) and Shango (brother to Oya, to whom she has given the power of storms). Though this is actually what the Weather Service does by assigning human names to storms, in this case, the speaker is not merely giving them divine qualities but also alluding to her roots in the West Indies and Africa. The hurricane can be said to bring the New World back to the Old. The questions, as the speaker apostrophizes the storm, suggest the metaphor of the hurricane as an avenging force that brings the "havoc" wrought upon other coasts and other peoples back to the Old World:

Tell me why you visit

An English coast ?

What is the meaning

Of old tongues

Reaping havoc

In new places ?

The paradox of destruction and life-giving is extended in these lines:

The blinding illumination,

Even as you short-

Circuit us

Into further darkness ?

The enjambment of the second and third lines, which is extended into the breaking up of a hyphenated word, is itself symbolic of a disconnect, not only the literal one (of electricity that goes off in a violent storm), but that between the life-giving force and the destructive one. But, the question remains: how or why is it life-giving ? What in fact does the hurricane illuminate?

There are multiple answers, but my impression is that the underlying metaphor encompassing the whole poem is one of the unity—or potential unity—of the world. Between peoples there are no barriers, because this godlike storm touches them all. It also reassures the speaker that even in a foreign land, she is at one with that land, and that her homeland is here as it was elsewhere. In the last line the thought it summarized:

Come to let me know

That the earth is the earth is the earth.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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