About the poet
Louise Bennett is a famous Jamaican poet, presenter, poetess, folklorist, and comedian. Bennett was born in Colonial Jamaica. She used to do a radio show on BBC Radio called Caribbean Carnival and West Indian Nights. On television, her popular show was Ring Ding. Apart from these, many of her shows were pretty well known on both mediums. She was given honorary Doctor of Letters by York University.
Louise Bennett is one of those Jamaicans who have supported the cause of restoring Jamaican identity and culture.
Language is the identity of any nation. Therefore, Jamaican Patois is known as the national identity. Patois was originally generated from the language of English masters and local African slaves. These slaves were brought to Jamaica for slavery reasons by Britishers.
The Background behind the poem
Like many of the other African countries, Jamaica was also a British colony. When the first constitution was passed in Jamaica by British Royal Committee in 1944, they decided to replace Jamaican Patois with British English. Such a decision clearly meant that the committee has denounced Patois as an official language.
Literary Analysis of Bans a Killin
In the poem, Bans a Killin, poetess Louise Bennette is addressing a made-up English character named Charlie. She is criticizing him for attempting to end Jamaican dialect.
Bennette begins her poem by talking straightaway to Charlie. She told him that she is aware of him and about the oath which he has taken in order to end the Jamaican dialect. She asked him further that whether this attempt is only about eliminating the Jamaican dialect or all the English dialects.
She inquired him again if the Jamaican vernacular is giving him some sort of inferiority feelings? because if this is the reason, then he must not forget that English itself is a dialect.
poetess Lousie has clearly asked for equality between two languages and uniformity when she says that if you cannot sing my folksongs, then why should I sing yours?
“If you can’t sing ‘Linstead Market’
And ‘Water come a me yeye’
Then We have to stop singing “Auld land syne
And coming through de rye”.
Bennett continues to bash Mr. Charlie and enlighten him by saying that the language upon which he is very much proud of and respects it. All of the Englishmen feel proud of this language, but poor Charlie may do not know that it has come out of dialects as well.
The English language was originated from the French language in the fourteenth century as we have studied Canterbury Tales, which is written by Chaucer by turning French into English. Poetess adds that it’s been five hundred years since then and English has more dialects than any other language in the world.
She grilled Mr. Charlie further that if he is wishing to end this one dialect, then he must start killing from other English dialects, such as Lancashire, Cockney, Yorkshire, etc. He should also look into the Scottish and Irish accents as well. Prior to killing Jamaica’s language, kill all these English accents first.
From the book of English verse, Mr. Charlie has to tear Lady Grizelle, Chaucer, and of course Shakespeare as these people are known as pioneers of English.
There is a number of content available in the English language and if Mr. Charlie wishes to end dialects, then he will have to do it step by step. In the first step, he will be killing wit and humor, which means all the material penned in this language will end eventually. It seems like that then all the variety of English will be no more. The original books and data will vanish as well. There will be no way through which they can read all those well-published books in this language.
At the end of the poem, Louise Bennett has said it all that all of these dialects are completing the English language and if you try to end any of them, you will end up killing your own mother tongue.
The poem Bans a Killin is written in Free verse style.
The tone of this poem is protesting and refuting.
Repetition can be seen in many lines, such as words like English, dialect, Mr. Charlie and language are repeated several times.
A whole lot of English oaths that say – 3
Are you gonna kill all English dialects – 7
Then what makes you feel inferior when
it comes to dialects? – 10
Are you gonna kill all English dialects – 7
Let me get it straight, Mr. Charlie, – 5
Poor Mr. Charlie, don’t you see that
Repition of the same sound was also found few times. For instance,
Let me get it straight, Mr. Charlie – 5
If you’ve examined the English Language, – 9
Then we have to stop singing ‘Auld lang syne’ – 14
From the fourteenth century – 21
When you’ve finished killing ‘wit’ and ‘humor’ – 32
Exclaimation mark is used in any senetnce to show some strong opinion or sentiment. Miss Lou has also showed such sentiments by using exclaimation marks in her poem.
So you’re the man I hear about!
It springs from dialects!
Before you start to kill me!
Post Colonial Aspect
The major post colonial aspect found in the poem is that Louise Bennett, the poet was born in Colonial Jamaica. Her expressions in poem clearly indicate her feelings of being a colonized.
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