The ranges of techniques that are used within a poem are essential because it gives the poem a whole new level. Within this poem Edward Kamau Brathwaite uses repetition a lot. For example he repeats the adjectives ‘dark deck’ on lines 16 and 14 to give feelings of imprisonment. He repeats these two words because while aboard the ship all the slaves are able to see is the ‘dark deck’ that is surrounding them. He uses the word dark throughout the poem, he uses it to describe the night (line 7), the deck (line 16, 17, 21 & 23), the ground (line 33) and when they are coming out of the dark (line 40).
In most cases using the same adjective over and over again can become a little boring but in this case it just gives the poem more structure and rhythm. Ambiguity is used first in the poem as the title ‘Limbo’ has 3 different meanings: the dance which on the slave ship was a way of keeping fit but on the other hand it was extremely uncomfortable as shown on line 28 of the poem when it says ‘knees spread wide’ this suggest a very vulnerable and submissive position.
It’s a place for lost and neglected things and also the Roman Catholics believed it was the place for unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls such as infants and virtuous individuals. The line ‘limbo like me’ can be ambiguous as it could almost mean the slave is begging the stick to favour him and get him under it, the slaves are stuck, unable to get freedom and it could mean limbo like I am doing.
The one word line that uses the word ‘down’ is also ambiguous as it can mean the movement of the slave under the pole, bending further down to get underneath the pole but also the feelings that are going through the slaved mind because they would be feeling more and more glum. However the word ‘up’ does the opposite, it shows the movement of the slave rising up in the dance as though they have finished the dance and made it right to the bottom also as they are rising up their sprits are also rising feeling a sudden amount of relief come across them.
When Alliteration is uses it gives the effect to draw attention to increase the feelings of imprisonment and it echoes the drum beat of the limbo dance. Alliteration is also uses to draw attention to increase feeling or foreboding. Also within the poem there is Consonance, this is evident in ‘dark deck’ both words end in the same letter and this creates a clicking noise which gives the deck more emphasis on how poor the conditions are. The limbo stick is ‘in front of me’ (line 7) and ‘down down down’ (lines 34 – 36) and ‘out of the dark and the dumb gods are raising me’ (lines 40 and 41).
This relates to what the slaves would see, for example ‘in front of me’ they would only see the ship in front of them after that they them would travel ‘down down down’ into the hull of the ship and then at the end of the journey they are brought back up to the outside of the ship so the ‘out of the dark’ section comes in. The poem ‘Limbo’ relates to Brathwaite’s ideas and feeling about the culture and tradition by using many different techniques to emphasise the feelings of despair and vulnerability.
Limbo suggest Brathwaite’s feelings on the culture were that they were quite passive and meek as they stood back and let the white people take them and take their families away from them. In slave time the tradition was that coloured people were less important than the white people and this is pointed out in the poems because he refers to the white slave drivers as ‘dumb gods’ this gives them no respect as he uses the word dumb. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Other Poets section.