“Hurricane Hits England” By Grace Nichols and “Storm on the Island”

“Hurricane Hits England” about a hurricane that came across from the Caribbean and hit the South coast of England (Sussex). In 1987 the poem takes place at night and follows the poet, Grace Nichols, as she talks and questions the hurricane like it were an old friend. “Storm on the lsland” is set on the top of a cliff on a barren island off the coast of Ireland. It describes the storm and how the village people are prepared for it and have built there houses “squat”.

This shows that there are storms there frequently and it also speaks of no “trees” to avoid falling branches.

“Storm on the Island” is written in blank verse. This reflects the crashing motion of the storm. It was often used by Shakespeare because it sounds like spoken English, this makes the poet sound like he his talking to the reader. However “Hurricane Hits England” is written in free verse which gives the poem a relaxed feel.

Also breaking it up in to stanza lets you see how the mood changes throughout the poem from questioning, to understanding. “Come to break the frozen lake within me” the “frozen lake” being her sense of belonging and home.

By not using an article before the title Heaney makes it sound blunt and gives a sense that he is not just talking about one storm in particular but many. To create drama Heaney writes the poem in present tense. Enjambment is used to create the surprise a storm would give “when it blows full / Blast” like a gust of wind suddenly “Blasting” in at the start of a new line.

Despite the confident start Heaney admits to being scared of the storm “it is a huge nothing we fear.” Whereas in the first stanza of Nichols’ uses a very effective metaphor to describe the hurricane “howling ship of the wind” this creates a ghost like quality to the hurricane this is later backed up by the word “spectre”. The view of the hurricane changes from stanza to stanza. In the third stanza Nichols questions the like it were an “old friend. The mood is then saddened when Nichols describes roots as “cratered graves”.

The island is described as “Wizened” which at first conjures thoughts of a desolate and barren landscape. “There are no stacks” suggests there are no crops, but as the hurricane is introduced the view of the island has been change and maybe it’s not just the ground that is “Wizened” but also the villagers. The fact the villagers are prepared for the storm is emphasised more so by the lack of trees. He uses the imagery of a “tame cat / Turned savage” because the sea is usually calm a gentle but can become violent and angry. The fact this is spread over two lines is to use the pause between them as the quiet before the storm.

The military theme is carried on when he uses words like “dives”, “strafes”, “salvos” and “bombardments” to show the distructive power of the storm. While the storm in “Hurricane Hits England” is show to be an actual person or a one point a God this is meant show that Nichols has not rejected her culture and is still capable of seeing things in terms of her native culture. The poet’s heart is “unchained” by the hurricane which breaks “…the frozen lake in me.” There is a clear implication that she has felt trapped in England and by riding the hurricane (a global event, of course) she finds her freedom.

Heaney’s poem is written in a repetitive and confident way and by using blank verse it reflects his mood that he will survive the storm. Although this changes throughout the poem, halfway through he uses phrases like “the thing you fear” and “exploding comfortably” to portray he is scared. While Nichols’ writes in free and open way which reflect her past in the Caribbean to show this she uses the words “the earth is the earth”

The final lines of “Hurricane Hits England” are a plea for multiculturalism and a pride in one’s own culture. The poet has realised that she can only be free and happy in England if she stops yearning for her own culture and accepts that, that culture is a part of her: she brought it to England with her just as the hurricane has brought a feeling of the Caribbean to England. This is unlike the ideas in “Storm on the Island” which concern our uneasy relationship to powerful natural forces and the feelings of vulnerability and fear. That we feel in the face of the potentially destructive powers of a storm.