Outer composition

The poem “The British (serves 60 million)” by Benjamin Zephaniah follows an atypical outer composition. The poem does not have rhyme or meter, and some of the verses are longer than others. These features are often encountered in modern poetry.

The poem can be divided into three stanzas with an unequal number of lines. The second stanza is the longest, with twenty lines, while the third stanza is the shortest with only one long line.

Ideas are often continued from one line to another. For example:

Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some 
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously (ll. 4-6)

The process of continuing an idea from one line to the next is called enjambment. This offers a certain musicality to the verses and captures the reader’s attention.

We should also draw attention to the visual appearance of the poem. At the end, we have two sections written in italics. The first is introduced by the word “Note” written in bold and italics and the second by the word “Warning”, similarly written. These two sections visually draw the reader’s attention to them. The choice is effective, as the “Note” and the “Warning” point to the poem’s main topic ...

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