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The selected poems we read by Lorna Goodison are fascinating in their contrast. “The Road of the Dread,” for example, is vastly different than any of Goodison’s other poems because it is written with phonetic spelling in the dialect of her native Jamaica.

And look no fi no milepost

fi measure you walking

and no tek no stone as

dead or familiar

This stanza is a little hard to understand at first, but after coming across the word “fi” in later stanzas and using the context clues provided, I decided that it means “to.”  Some of these stanzas are hard to decipher because of the unique spelling, but I found this to be a fun challenge rather than an inconvenient obstacle to reading the poem.

The language in this poem is a stark contrast to the other poems we read.  “Songs of the Sweet Fruits of Childhood,” for example, is full of language that we would immediately recognize as being poetic.

A mint ball

is divided by thin

varicolored stripes

like the porcelain

marble of a prince.

The rest of Goodison’s poems use similar language to this, meaning that they have proper grammar and syntax and complex language and imagery.  I love the images and rich descriptions in this poem, but I also really enjoy the cadences of the language in “The Road of the Dread.”  These two poems are interesting in their presentation and subject matter: the jargon-y sounding poem seems to be addressing deeper topics such as the passage of life, while the poem with more correct language is more focused on simple childhood enjoyment.

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