Remember the Ship

This study guide will help you analyze the poem “Remember the Ship” (1998) by John Agard. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

John Agard (b. 1949) is a playwright, poet, and children’s writer from Guyana who is currently living in London, in the UK.  He has received several awards for his writing including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2012.  

Extract

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide:

Inner composition 

The inner composition follows the speaker’s arguments for his initial plea to “remember the ship in citizenship” (ll. 3-5). The words “Remember the ship”, present in the title, are repeated twice in the story, becoming like a refrain, and stressing the speaker’s request.

In the first four stanzas, the speaker talks about language. He says he identifies “as citizen of the English language” (ll. 1-2), which shows that rather than identifying as a citizen of the country he was born in or the one he is going to live in now, he identifies as a speaker of the English language, which the two countries have as a common language. The speaker also mentions that language is something people carry with them wherever they go. The speaker uses this as an argument for people to embrace diversity and accept immigrants in their community.

In stanzas five and six, the speaker says that his desire to travel and settle in a new country is motivated by his desire to find love and acceptance: “and love’s anchor waiting to be cast” (ll. 14-15).This shows his wish to be embraced by his new community and accepted as one of their own.

In stanzas seven and eight, the speaker thinks about the issue of race and whether that will be a problem for him in his journey towards becoming a citizen of a new country. He says he wants to navigate, and thus look to the future, rather than worrying or punishing himself about the past. 

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Remember the Ship

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