Whats your interpretation of the following poem?I’ve justnever knownwhatto callthat country.If I sayEnglandI don’t thinkI sound sosmart. I keeptripping upon their language which is Englishso...

Whats your interpretation of the following poem?

I’ve just
never known
to call
that country.
If I say
I don’t think

I sound so
smart. I keep
tripping up
on their language which is English
so shouldn’t their
country be the
same. Britain seems wrong,
does anyone
go to Britain?
People go to London
that’s where they go.
There’s really no country at all
just a city
huge, old
haven’t been there for a while.
& UK is just a concept
a fashion statement
an economy
it seems you could have
a relationship
with that
but you wouldn’t go there
you would allude.
Though, it includes everything,
doesn’t it: the UK.
Ireland, Scotland,
England, all of it.
England is right

in there, but no place
else, which is why
I never say it.
But what about the
language they speak.
English. My penmanship
sharpens up. I go to
Slowly the words appear
on a line. Could I
write in that language
Think in it
Do I
am I missing something.
I really think a lot:
The second l in really
staggered into a y
the letters got
drunk. I wanted
to fuck up this
language & blame
its nameless
the victors got drunk
they came & came
the words were never
the same again
in the last century
it came to us
to speak American
which means
to speak
where you land
which means
nothing now.
Not proud
but invasive.
Not the language
not the place
not them
not us
neither an island
nor a continent
nor a world
a spin without
a home.

An edgy
feeling. A coin
on its
speaking up

Expert Answers
kimfuji eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem's narrator is struggling with how to name England because he is not from there. He thinks he is supposed to say "England" and then to know what it means. But he only sees a large city like any other large city.

He cannot use English properly even though he goes to school and studies.

He is angry because of the hypocracy of England, the surpremacy of English as a language and the power of the British.

He wants to make mistakes in English, and in a way, butcher the British, as a way to vent his anger against the British for "controlling" the use of English.

He is American.

He is angry because there is an ache inside of him for a place to call home, where English has a home. (This is an unstated assumption but there is a feeling of yearning that runs underneath the poem, that this "home" for the language is what he is searching for.)

However, language has no home. The land(continent) people arrive on is called America or England but it is only a name.

He says he wants to "fuck up this language and blame its nameless homeland".

In the poem he does this. He uses the rules of the English language inappropriately. And he is blaming it on who?

In short, he cannot blame it on a place(country) or a civilisation that owns English because it does not exist.

The poem is a comment on language. It asks: who has the permission to claim a langauge as it's own and therefore make its rules? And who has the right to judge the people who cannot speak it properly or write it properly?

The answer is: no one owns a langauge or a continent.