Poetic devices



One of the most important poetic devices in the poem “The British (serves 60 million)” by Benjamin Zephaniah is the metaphor. The entire poem presents the mingling of the various elements of British society, past and present, using the extended metaphor of a food recipe. This is seen from the beginning:

Take some Picts, Celts and Silures 
And let them settle, 
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors. 
Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years 
Add lots of Norman French to some 
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously. (ll. 1-6)

Here, the poet uses the metaphor of the food recipe in a humorous way to describe the early history of Britain. This sets the tone for the rest of the poem, where the metaphor will be used to describe the evolution and diversity of British society:

Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians, 
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some 
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese 
And Palestinians 
Then add to the melting pot. 
Leave the ingredients to simmer. 
As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish 
Binding them together with English. (ll. 14-21)

Here the metaphor draws attention to all the elements that form British society, hig...

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