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read through my essay? (gcse aqa english lit poetry)

hello, so the question is compare how poets present power and conflict in checking out me history and one other poem. feedback would be appreciated!!

In Checking Out Me History, Agard exposes the limitations (and perhaps even failures) of an education system designed by a hegemony. In particular, his poem is a provocative condemnation of Eurocentric history, and a celebration of a heterogeneous identity. In this way, he demonstrates both the power of colonisers over the oppressed, but also the power that we in the present now hold to change history and the Eurocentric narrative. In London, William Blake illustrates the misery and weaknesses of those living in London. These people lack power because they are suppressed by the institutions such as the monarchy, the church, and the legal system, similarly to the oppression of the education system in Checking Out Me History. But in London, the people are complicit in their suffering: they have allowed themselves to be psychologically chained by indoctrination, whereas in Checking Out Me History, the speaker is trying to break out from the oppression he has faced and learn more about his ‘identity’ and ‘history’.
In his poem, Agard pairs English nursery rhymes and history such as ‘de cow who jump over de moon’ and ‘1066 and all dat’ with black historical figures who have been ignored such as ‘Nanny de maroon’ and ‘Toussaint L’Ouverture’. By doing so, he encourages the reader of the poem to question what they have been taught, particularly by the education system, which prioritises even nursery rhymes and fictional figures (e.g. ‘Robin Hood’) over non-English aspects of history. However, the speaker’s reclamation of his history and educating the reader shows an increase in power of those previously ‘blind(ed)’ by oppressors. In London, William Blake refers to the ‘blackening church’ and ‘palace walls’ to demonstrate other aspects of society that oppress people as Agard presents the school curriculum- particularly the Church and the monarchy. He specifically mentions a ‘chimney sweeper’- who typically would have been a young child, small enough to climb into chimneys and clean them- as a particular individual, or representation of a group of individuals exploited and oppressed by society.

Both Agard and Blake also express the inability of oppressors to control nature. Despite their wishes to ‘blind’ people like Agard and tell him only ‘wha dem want to tell me’, the oppressors are not truly able to control everything. Agard uses a recurring motif of light and vision throughout the poem- Toussaint L’Ouverture is called ‘a slave/ With vision’, Nanny de Maroon is a woman who can ‘see-far’, and Mary Seacole is called a ‘healing star’ and ‘yellow sunrise’- an allusion to the ‘lamp’ (i.e. a source of light) used by Florence Nightingale, another nurse who served in the Crimean War, which she was remembered for as ‘the lady with the lamp’. By tying a symbol of light to Seacole, Agard underscores the fact that she also deserves a place in history for her work. In London, William Blake refers to the ‘chartered Thames’, implying that oppressors such as the Church, the monarchy, and the rich, try to own natural features like rivers, but the Thames still ‘flow(s)’, giving the impression that actually while oppressors believe they can control everything, they do not actually have power over things such as nature.
As well as this, both poets use a first person narrator to demonstrate their experiences. Blake does this in order to show how his narrator is the only one within London to see the flaws in the city and the system, the only one to ‘hear’ the ‘mind-forged manacles’ and ‘mark in every face I meet/ marks of weakness, marks of woe’. Using first person narration here also shows the power held by the narrator. Though he cannot control the city, he is not controlled by greater forces and is not imprisoned by the ‘mind-forged manacles’. When Agard uses a first person narrator, it is also to show how he is no longer under the control of ‘dem’ and is able to ‘check(ing) out’ his own history and ‘carv(ing) out’ his own ‘identity’ rather than be shown only Eurocentric history. Furthermore, these two verbs in the final stanza are in the present continuous tense without a full stop, showing how Agard is not done with this process, and that there is still more to learn and more power to take back from ‘dem’.
To some extent, Blake also uses a cyclical structure. As the narrator walks throughout the city, he observes the ‘woe’ and misery of the people, and this does not change. In the first stanza he sees ‘marks of weakness, marks of woe’, and the poem ends with ‘marriage’ being ‘blighted’ by the ‘youthful harlot’s curse’. There are also sustained references to crying throughout, particularly from ‘infant(s)’. Agard does not use a cyclical structure, and his narrator’s attitude changes entirely from the beginning of the poem. Initially, the narrator is angry at ‘dem’, the political other, particularly emphasised by the plosive ‘b’ sounds in ‘bandage’ and ‘blind’ in the second stanza, which could also represent the force and violence used by oppressors to retain power. But the poem ends with an inspiring image of self-discovery, and a wish to learn more, and rather than anger towards oppressors it seems that the narrator is just ignoring them and ‘carving out’ his own path.
Both Blake and Agard both refer to specific people when delivering the messages of their poems. Blake specifically refers to the ‘soldier’, a ‘chimney sweeper’, and ‘the youthful harlot’- all victims of the cruel abuse of power within the city. By doing so, he shows the corruption of power and how they drive innocent people such as a ‘youthful’ girl to desperation to the point of exploiting her own body. When Agard does this, he is referring to historical figures such as ‘Mary Seacole’ and ‘Shake de great Zulu’, who are meant as inspirations to the reader and to impart hope for those like the narrator who were denied their own ‘identity’ and ‘history’.

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