Friday, 30 May 2014

Half-Caste by John Agard

John Agard, Half Caste, GCSE poem
The playwright, poet and children's writer, John Agard was born in Guyana in 1949 to a Caribbean father and Portuguese mother, he moved to Britain in 1977. In 2012, he was selected for the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. His poem Half Caste  has been featured in the AQA English GCSE anthology since 2002, meaning that many students (aged 14 – 16) have studied his work for their GCSE English qualification. (Wikipedia).  Listen to John recite the poem and hear his thoughts on Half-Caste via this link to BBC Learning Zone

To find out more about John follow this link to Literature British Council


Half-Caste                                                                     
by John Agard 

Excuse me
standing on one leg

I’m half-caste
Explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when picasso
mix red an green
is a half-caste canvas/
explain yuself
wha u mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when light an shadow
mix in de sky
is a half-caste weather/
well in dat case
england weather
nearly always half-caste
in fact some o dem cloud
half-caste till dem overcast
so spiteful dem dont want de sun pass
ah rass/
explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean tchaikovsky
sit down at dah piano
an mix a black key
wid a white key
is a half-caste symphony/

Explain yuself
wha yu mean
Ah listening to yu wid de keen
half of mih ear
Ah looking at u wid de keen
half of mih eye
and when I’m introduced to yu
I’m sure you’ll understand
why I offer yu half-a-hand
an when I sleep at night
I close half-a-eye
consequently when I dream
I dream half-a-dream
an when moon begin to glow
I half-caste human being
cast half-a-shadow
but yu come back tomorrow
wid de whole of yu eye
an de whole of yu ear
and de whole of yu mind
an I will tell yu
de other half
of my story



1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful poem, which when taught creates a huge discussion from my students. Firstly on what the poem is actually about - looking at the references, then the meaning behind the poem. One of the key aspects of this poem is that it is to be heard and not jus read - the dialect is so important. When we see Agard speak and perform he is an inspiration to 15/16 year olds from all walks of life-and goodness knows we need more of that!!!

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