A Comparison of Two Poems Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi and Search for my Tongue by Sujata Bhatt
In this essay, I will be showing you how the writers use their own
poetic devices within their work to their advantage and how the poets
have used different themes to overcome in their own poems.
To begin this essay, I will be presenting to you how Alvi and Bhatt
have used different viewpoints within their poems to put across their
message to the reader.
In the poem 'Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan', Alvi chooses to
present her work in the narrative viewpoint of the first person,
reducing the chance of her poem being a conversational one. She then
chooses to phrase her work in the past tense, so that she is getting
the reader to ponder on the characters state of mind and explore into
The poem 'Search for my Tongue' starts off in the past tense but later
converts into the present, towards the end of the poem.
Secondly, it soon becomes aware to me that, whilst comparing both
poems, the poets have used their work to portray their emotional
status' in response to almost possessing dual cultures.
In 'Presents from my Aunt in Pakistan', Alvi concentrates on cultural
dislocation, which is unquestionably the poets feelings about her
ethnic background. From quotes such as 'half-english', 'Marks &
Spencer's' and 'salwar kameez didn't impress the schoolfriend', I
begin to picture that she is caught in the middle of fashion and
popularity in England and her original, cultural traditions.
In 'Search for my Tongue', Bhatt seems to feel that she is betraying
her background by forgetting her mother tongue. This is implied in the
quote, 'if you had to speak a foreign tongue, your mother tongue would
rot'. Also, if you examine the structure of the poem, you find that
the Gujarati language is sandwiched in between the English language.
This is obviously a reflection of the poet's feelings on how her
language is treated second class to that of the English.
Throughout both poems, the main issue is about how have both the poets
adjusted to the change in culture and society.
In 'Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan', the poet takes to the English
culture almost instantaneously (e.g. fashion) even though she is
subconsciously aware that she is Pakistani.
In 'Search for my Tongue', the poet almost forgets her foundations and
adjusts well. But, she finds her vernacular tongue towards the end of
the poem which makes her feel guilty and angry at the same time for
forgetting it. Yet, she only seems to feel bad when she remembers that
she's not English.
There seems to be a whole range of different cultures mentioned within
In 'Presents from...