I believe praise song for my mother by Grace Nichols is a poem honoring the attributes of a mother. Thus the title praise song for my mother. She was born and brought up in the town of Guyana then moved to London where she still lives up till today. The mixture in her race is as a result of her Caribbean heritage where most people tend to be of mixed race. This then influences her use of English and Creole (a language resulting from the contact of many languages) in her poetry.
Her Caribbean heritage also influences the images of the poem immensely. Praise song for my mother is a metaphoric poem using imagery to describe the intense emotional relationship she had with her mother. The poet is thankful and rejoices her mothers’ presence using the term ‘praise’ in her poem title. The poet describes the importance of her mother in her life. the poem is one of short and simple stanzas. She uses natural imagery perhaps as a memory of her childhood days. She says that her mother was ‘water’ to her.
This is a symbol of bringing forth life. She continues to describe her mother as ‘deep and bold and fathoming’ and this only emphasizes on how intense, emotional and true their relationship was. How confident, courageous and brave she was and at the same time she was a able to portray the quality of understanding making her easy to talk to. She says her mum was the ‘moons eye’ to her, representing the light she was unto her path during her dark moments. Her mother was her leader and guide and cheered her up when she was down.
‘pull and grained and mantling’ during those hard times her mother pulled her close, cushioned and grounded her, became her strength and foundation and showed her even more affection. Her mother was ‘sunrise’ to her which could be a metaphor representing the joy and happiness that her mother brought into her life. Sunrise meaning she never set she was only becoming better than she already was. Warm representing how she soothed her daughter and mantling showing her presence was conveniently everywhere. In the fourth stanza, she uses metaphors influenced by her life in the Caribbean.
She describes her mother as ‘red gill’, A symbol of being fresh and not stale. ‘trees spread’ a symbol of being a shelter or shade in her life. ‘crab’s leg/the fried plantain smell’, a delicacy in the Caribbean that brought out the goodness in a situation. ‘replenishing, replenishing’ emphasizing that she only added value to her life. ‘go to your wide futures you said’ her mother was now sure she could conquer anything. Her daughter was ready for anything in her eyes. She had prepared her enough and was confident that she would make wish it in the world.