Inner composition


The title “Listen Mr Oxford don” suggests that John Agard's poem will be a monologue and that the speaker wants “Mr Oxford don” to listen to him. The term “don”, which is used to refer to professors at Oxford University, implies that the speaker is addressing an imaginary English professor from Oxford University. The title is repeated at the beginning of the second stanza: “But listen Mr Oxford don/I’m a man on de run” (p. 69, l. 7), highlighting the imbalance of power between the speaker and “Mr Oxford don”.

“Mr Oxford don” stands more broadly for English people who are well-educated but who discriminate against immigrants for not using the English language correctly, and who probably believe they are superior to immigrants because of this. As the author comes from British Guyana, the title could suggest the imbalance of power between English people and immigrants coming to the UK from countries formerly colonized by the British.

The speaker’s message to the Oxford don is that immigrants who are discriminated against or seen as criminals might become dangerous (p. 69, ll. 22-25). However, the speaker will not use weapons, but will ironically use the cause of the discrimination – his language – to protest against prejudice and discrimination: “I’m not a...

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