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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 3: Analysis

Analyse poetry or short stories in class, (Faasamoa / faapalagi, Ua vilivili Faamanuao Matagi or any other work from a Pacific Island writer the teacher feels is appropriate) to prepare for close reading assessment. Be sure to revise figurative language, tone, symbolism and structure when integrating exploring language into the literature studied in class. You may decide to use the Ruperake Petaia poems, Kidnapped, and Star in the Marble and questions as a formative exercise.



I was six when
Mama was careless
she sent me to school
five days a week

One day I was
kidnapped by a band
of Western philosophers
armed with glossy-pictured
textbooks and registered reputations
'Holder of BA
and MA degrees'

I was held in a classroom
guarded by Churchill and Garibaldi
pinned up on one was
Hitler and Mao dictating
from the other
Guevara pointed a revolution
at my brains
from his 'Guerilla Warfare'

Each three-month term
they sent threats to my Mama and Papa

Mama and Papa loved
their son and
paid ransom fees
each time

Each time
Mama and Papa grew
poorer and poorer
and my kidnappers grew
richer and richer
I grew whiter and

On my release
fifteen years after
I was handed
(among loud applause
from fellow victims)
a piece of paper
to decorate my walls
certifying my release.

Star in the Marble

In my childhood
I used to crack marbles,
looking for the stars in them.
And every time I cracked a marble
I found a broken star.

One day I turned school-age.
My health teacher, middle-aged
with a handkerchief tucked into his belt
to show his cleanliness, told me
marbles were dirty
and dangerous when swallowed.

So I dropped marbles
and took up Book-keeping in School Certificate
and said to myself:
'Boy, you're educated,
Go ye and be a banker.'

For a year I worked in a bank
but the place smelled of starch
and I was getting breakable, marble-like.
I remembered what my teacher said
about marbles
and I quit for health reasons.

Now I am a faithful puppet
in a Government puppet show.
Man, my life has truly been
one long string of searches,
still searching for that star
in the marble.

Formative questions:


  1. How long is the poem? How many lines and stanzas does it have? Does the poem use Rhyme? Do you notice anything unusual about the punctuation? What effect, do you think, this has on the reader?


  2. What is the tone/feeling of the poem? What type of language has the poet used to create this feeling?


  3. Identify a language technique used in the poem. What is the effect of using this technique in the poem?


  4. This is a very political/socially aware poem. What are the issues? What stance/position has the poet taken on these issues?

Published on: 13 Apr 2009