9 Sep 2015

Half-caste by John Agard

Just recently I have started studying England Literature at A Level and am loving it! The fact I chose to study English probably doesn't come as a surprise to most people since I almost always have my nose in a book. However, if I said I was a massive poetry reader then I would be lying.

And Bethany does not lie she is too amaze-balls

It isn't that I hate poems or that I don't appreciate how absurdly intelligent poets must be to write some of their work. It's just that sitting down to read a poem doesn't have quite the same appeal as sitting down to read a book. And I think for most people that is probably the same.

However in the past I have been introduced to several poems which have really touched me and made me think about things in a different way. This is one of them and I wanted to share it with you.

Maybe this will be a new series on In The Clouds, maybe not. What do you fancy?

Anyway, this is a rather controversial poem by John Agard in that it is challenging people to think about every day words that they use and whether they are still suitable words to use in the 21st Century. The word in focus is  'half-caste', a term that seems to suggest that people of colour are less human than white people because they come from a family of mixed races. And really it does seem such a strange idea to even think of somebody as 'half' of something because that is simply not possible.

I suppose this poem touched me more than others because 'half-caste' is a word that I have heard thrown around a number of times, just like 'midget' for describing a person with dwarfism, without even a second thought as to what it really means and how hurtful it could be to the person it is directed at.

I know they say that only sticks and stones can break your bones, but we all know that words will and can hurt you just as much. Maybe, even more.

Of course we have moved on a lot from the times of slavery and segregation, where black people were physically and emotionally abused simply for the colour of their skin. Although I am sad we ever had a part to play in that truly disgraceful behavior, society is now becoming a lot more accepting of different cultures and races. And for that I am thankful that maybe one day my children and my children's children can live in harmony with one another and look beyond people's appearances.

At the end of the day we are all human beings. We all have hearts and brains and lungs and kidneys. We all bleed the same colour for god sake! So if inside we are all the same, why should the outside even matter?

All I ask it that we just be a little mindful sometimes and think before we speak, letting the beautiful words of John Agard guide us through our path in life: 

Ah! I do adore that poem,
Love Beth xx


  1. I remember reading this poem when I was studying for my Alevels! It is such an interesting poem and it did hit me quite hard when I understood the meaning. xx
    Bethan Likes

    1. That is one of the reasons I decided to share it with you- not a lot of people read poetry so it's nice to try and expose people to something different.


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