S-Cool Revision Summary

S-Cool Revision Summary


The poem can either be simply read as being about one person's experience of moving to a foreign country and speaking two languages.

Or it can be seen as using language to represent the struggle of colonial experience. By trying to control the language colonisers tried to control the thoughts, feelings, values and ideas of the people they colonised. The poem shows how the native culture survives, at a deep level, and is able to overthrow in the end the invading culture.


The attitude of the poet is difficult to read in this poem. Clearly there is a sense of wonder about the re-flowering of the native language, and the imagery of rotting suggest some of the pain of losing access to your mother tongue.

The poem however is quietly, subtly rebellious.

It celebrates the overthrowing of a foreign language/power and the resurgence of native language/culture.


Bhatt uses a mixture of language in her poem. There is the conversational of the opening, the extended metaphor of language being like a plant, and there is also the use of Gujarati. This is a word that my computer doesn't even provide a spell-check for.

The language works by concentrating attention on the metaphor and by making us hear but not understand the Gujarati.


The poem shows that people have prejudices for and against particular accents and dialects.

As language is a big part of culture and identity the poem is also about how 'Middle England' sees itself as superior to other regions.


Although this seems at first a funny satirical poem, it is also deeply felt and angry.

The BBC accented newsreader is shown to be aggressive, actively taunting the viewer and suppressing their language: 'belt up'

It is difficult to tell who is speaking the second half of the poem, and this perhaps reflects the mutual feelings of hostility. The middle class presenter is hostile because he thinks the Glaswegian inferior; the Glaswegian is hostile as a result of this.


Leonard manages to convey the way the Glaswegian accent sounds by writing phonetically.

His rejection of the claims and values of the 'standard' view is also represent d by his unconventional punctuation.

He makes his point by being perfectly understandable despite not following any rules for 'correct' English.

The paired down form of the poem suits this unfancy, realistic, straight-talking language. There are no breaks, no doubts, the poem is as solid as the views and culture it represents.


The poem is about prejudice. It attacks people for holding racist, separatist views. It shows these views to be offensive and poorly thought through. In particular Agard homes in on how language can be used to re-enforce racist thinking, using the word 'half-caste' to illustrate his point. This word was commonly used until fairly recently and shows that racist views can reach wider into society than is comfortable to acknowledge.


The poem is a powerful expression of Agard's anger and frustration with racist thinking.

The tone is one of confrontation, of a clear challenge to racist people to try to justify their opinions.

Despite the strong feelings there is also humour in the poem. The opening image, for example, is jokey, absurd. Agard also uses irony in the fourth stanza.


Agard uses a mixture of language. The poem is clearly written in an Afro-Caribbean dialect, but this is modified so that it is easily understandable to other English users.

Lines like 'ah rass', and 'some o dem' are mixed with the standard 'I'm sure you'll understand.'

The form and rhythm of the poem is irregular. Agard imposes his own voice and the rhythms of West Indian culture on English language and poetry.


The poem is about an incident where a pipe bursts and a whole community rush to collect the water.

At first it seems just an exciting occasion vividly brought to life.

However from the first line there is a sense of something darker, and harder hitting.

The layers of the poem reflect the way different people will see the same scene / culture differently.


The poet appears at first to be objective, describing but not commenting on the incident.

And to some extent she leaves the reader to decide the feeling and meaning of the poem.

Perhaps though there is horror and pity in that opening image of skin cracking 'like a pod'.

To me the poem seems like a lament for the poverty of these people and for the value system that keeps them poor, yet humble and thankful.


Dharker uses sensual imagery to evoke the scene, and builds the rhythm of the poem into a crescendo at the bursting of the pipe.

She uses an extended metaphor, comparing water to a god.

She makes lines intentionally ambiguous, uncertain, so that the scene can be interpreted in more than one way.


The poem is about oppression, specifically here the suffering of ordinary servant girls in Victorian England. It shows how hard their lives were, little better than prisoners or slaves, doing the lowliest work, at the beck and call of their masters.

The poem contrasts the working girl with the idle employer, and shows the injustice of a system that spilt the rich and the poor into master and servant.


Fiona Farrell obviously sympathises with the servant's lives. It is written from Charlotte O'Neil's perspective.

The emphatic repetition, the empty justifications of such an unjust system, and the defiance in the last stanza all convey a sense of anger.


The language used is appropriate to the voice of the poem; a young Victorian servant girl. It is simple and straightforward.

The form is also simple, using the rhythms and end-stopped rhymes of songs.

Most of the poem is a list of the jobs these girls had to do.

The decisive, long-suffering tone of the poem creates its power.