LinkedIn emplea cookies para mejorar la funcionalidad y el rendimiento de nuestro sitio web, así como para ofrecer publicidad relevante. Si continúas navegando por ese sitio web, aceptas el uso de cookies. Consulta nuestras Condiciones de uso y nuestra Política de privacidad para más información.
LinkedIn emplea cookies para mejorar la funcionalidad y el rendimiento de nuestro sitio web, así como para ofrecer publicidad relevante. Si continúas navegando por ese sitio web, aceptas el uso de cookies. Consulta nuestra Política de privacidad y nuestras Condiciones de uso para más información.
Checking out me history
AQA English Literature Paper 2
Section B-Conflict and Power Poetry
• John Agard is a poet
Guyana in South
America, near the
• He came to England
• His Portugese mother
is white and his father
• Many of his poems
are about identity and
• John is a well known writer,
especially of children’s poetry
• He has performed his poetry at
more than two thousand schools
with the aim of raising
awareness of Caribbean culture.
• He is a performing poet for
whom the sound of poems is
• His poems often use humour to
convey a serious point.
• He lives in Sussex with his
partner, the poet Grace
• Let’s listen to a brilliant song-like performance of
the poem by the poet himself, John Agard.
What’s it about?
• The narrator is talking about his identity
and how it links to his knowledge of
• He was taught all about British history but
he wasn’t taught about his Caribbean
roots. He lists famous figures from British
history, literature and nursery rhymes and
questions why he isn’t taught about people
from other cultures who did great things.
• He mentions men and women from black
history who should be celebrated.
• At the end, he says he’s going to create his
own identity based on his own heritage.
Dem tell me
Dem tell me
Wha dem want to tell me
Bandage up me eye with me own history
Blind me to me own identity
“Dem” =Caribbean pronunciation of “them”.
“Me”=Caribbean pronunciation of “my.”
What is the effect of this phonetic spelling?
Who are “Dem”?
Repetition/rule of three is song-like,
like a chant-repeated at the end.
What is the effect?
Metaphor-not knowing history
described as like being blind. Why?
Read the next line!
“Wha.” Elision. Missing
off the “t.” Effect?
What are bandages supposed to be
used for? Why is this ironic here?
Dem tell me about 1066 and all dat
Dem tell me bout Dick Wittington and he cat
But Toussaint L’Ouverture
No dem never tell me bout dat
“1066 and All That”-a
humorous history book first
published in 1930.
What does the phrase “and
all dat” suggest?
Toussaint L’Ouverture led a
revolution of slaves on the
island of Haiti-a French
colony at the time. He
A pantomime. A poor boy
becomes rich because his cat
is a great rat catcher. He
eventually becomes Mayor of
wrote a sonnet
about him. It’s
at the end of
this PPT if you
have time to
Toussaint A slave
And first black
Toussaint de thorn
To de French
Toussant de beacon
Of de Haitian Revolution
Haiti. A republic is a
country without kings.
Agard uses Italics to highlight this important
figure from black history and separate him from
the “European” and “white” version of history.
Draw a box around this section.
in a French jail
Notice how the
images of him
all dress him
like a European
Can you spot any rhyme
and repetition in this
section? What is the effect?
Napoleon-ruler of France.
Battalion a large group of
is compared thorn in
the side of the French.
int compared to a
beacon of light.
Dem tell me bout de man who discover de balloon
And de cow who jump over de moon
Dem tell me bout de dish ran away with de spoon
But dem never tell me but Nanny de maroon
Nursery rhymes seen as more
important than an important
figure from black history.
A Jamaican national
slavery and formed
the maroons: a
runaway slaves who
fought a guerrilla
war against the
British on the
The French Montgolfier brothers
inventors of the hot air balloon
Nanny See-far woman
Of mountain dream
To freedom river
What is the effect of
each of the images
highlighted in red?
Agard again uses Italics to
highlight this important figure
from black history and separate
him from the “European” and
“white” version of history. Draw
a box around this section.
Dem tell me bout Lord Nelson and Waterloo
But dem never tell me bout Shaka de great Zulu
Dem tell me bout Columbus and 1492
But what happen to de Caribs and de Arawaks too
greatest naval hero.
Died at the Battle of
in 1815 when
Napoleon was finally
defeated by the Duke
“discovered” America in
The original people who
lived in the Caribbean
who were killed,
displaced or enslaved by
the European settlers
Powerful leader of
the African Zulu
Dem tell bout Florence Nightingale and she lamp
And how Robin Hood used to camp
Dem tell me bout ole King Cole was a merry ole soul
But dem never tell me bout Mary Seacole
A white British nurse who helped treat
wounded soldiers during the Crimean War
(1853-6). She was known as the “lady with
the lamp” as she used to do her rounds at
night with one.
Robin Hood and Old King
Cole-figures from folk
tales and nursery rhymes.
Poet suggests they are
seen as more important
than important figures
from black history.
She travel far
To the Crimean War
She volunteer to go
And even when de British said no
She still brave the Russian snow
A healing star
Among the wounded
A yellow sunrise
To the dying
Mary Seacole was a black Jamaican nurse who saved
many lives during the Crimean. She offered her help to
the British Government. They refused but she went
anyway! Less famous than Florence Nightingale.
What is the effect of these two
metaphors? Why does the poet choose
to use rhyme in this section?
Another black history
hero. Draw a box
around this section.
Dem tell me
Dem tell me wha dem want to tell me
But now I checking out me own history
I carving out me identity
Returns to and repeats the
opening lines-what is the
effect of this refrain?
An old name for a refrain is a
“burden”. Why might this be
a more appropriate term
Metaphor-why is researching
your past and discovering who
you are like carving?
What do these images have to do with
the poem? Choose one to explain.
• ANGER-The narrator is angry
because the education system
didn’t teach him about his
culture. He is unaware of his
heritage even though it’s an
important part of who he is.
• ADMIRATION-He respects the
Caribbean figures he describes
in the poem. He admires their
achievements and wants to tell
their stories to show the role
they played in history.
• CELEBRATION-At the end he
says he will embrace his own
identify in a positive way.
1. Look at the italicised stanzas about Toussaint,
Nanny and Mary Seacole.
a) Pick out words which show the writer’s
admiration for these “hidden” figures of black
b) Why do you think the writer sets them apart in
c) Why do you think the poet decided to use an
irregular pattern in his rhyme in this poem?
2. Why do you think the poet uses both male
and female figures from history in the poem?
3. What is the effect of the verbs “checking” and
“carving” in the final lines of the poem?
4. Why do you think the poet decides not to use
punctuation in the poem?
5. What natural images does the poet use and
why are they important?
• Power of humans
• Identity (Tissue)
• Negative emotions-
• Click the link above to see John Agard
performing another of his poems, Listen Mr
• What similarities can you hear between this
and Checking Out Me History?
TO TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE
TOUSSAINT, the most unhappy of men!
Whether the whistling Rustic tend his plough
Within thy hearing, or thy head be now
Pillowed in some deep dungeon's earless den; -
O miserable Chieftain! where and when
Wilt thou find patience? Yet die not; do thou
Wear rather in thy bonds a cheerful brow:
Though fallen thyself, never to rise again,
Live, and take comfort. Thou hast left behind
Powers that will work for thee; air, earth, and skies;
There's not a breathing of the common wind
That will forget thee; thou hast great allies;
Thy friends are exultations, agonies,
And love, and man's unconquerable mind.