Island Man is a short poem that focuses on the cultural identity of a Caribbean man who wakes up in real time London, but who is still dreaming about his native island. Through the astute use of imagery and metaphor, the poem juxtaposes the two environments within the mind of the third person speaker. The main theme is the cultural split experienced by this individual, the contrasts between the two, island life versus city life. This poem by Grace Nichols reflects on the culture and life of a Caribbean citizen. It shows by using Personification such as ‘sun surfacing defiantly’ and other poetic techniques like metaphors in the sentence “grey metallic soar”, these techniques open up a wide variety of mixed emotions in the poem, these emotions can be seen as depressing, relaxing or free.
The first device that Nichols uses is imagery: Nichols helps us imagine the island and its nature surrounding it. The start of the poem starts by telling us what time of day it is by using the word “morning”. The use of the language lets us visualize and imagine the island itself. We can visualize to the sound of the sea when it says, “sound of the blue surf”. In the next paragraph, that Grace used in the poem is Vocabulary:
In the next paragraph, one more literary device will be spoken about.
The third device that Nichols used is language features: “Muffling muffling”, this time echoing the repetition of “Groggily groggily” and suggesting that there is a struggle to shut out one set of sounds in favor of another. Nichols uses the metaphor ‘crumpled pillow waves” to link to the ideas here back to the sounds and images of the sea at the beginning of the poem. The fact that the man ‘heaves’ himself out of bed gives the impression that he is unwilling to leave his dream of the Caribbean Island and face the reality of ‘Another London day’
Onomatopoeia- ‘The steady breaking and wombing’. This describes the sea as settling and then moving again. This may also imply that he feels left out and that he does not belong because every time he finds somewhere nice he has to move.
Taking everything into account, Grace Nichols has successfully written this poem for a person who has missed his home and feels alone in the world that he is living right at the very moment and the only way to make him happy is by going back to their homeland. She has shown this through the poem structure and figurative language, especially the use of metaphors and personification.