The analysis of the poem “Remember the Ship” by John Agard shows that the outer composition is irregular. The poem is written in free verse and has no set rhyming scheme or meter. The poem’s inner composition presents the speaker’s arguments for why people should “remember the ship”.

The speaker of the poem is an immigrant. The speaker is most likely John Agard himself, as the poet’s background fits with what the speaker describes. 

The language of the poem is formal and contemporary. The poem uses wordplay in order to add double meanings to certain lines of the poem and to create clear images. 

The poem uses many poetic devices such as alliterations to share its messages. Metaphors and symbols enhance the text and highlight the main themes of the poem. 


Outer composition

The poem “Remember the Ship” by John Agard has an irregular outer composition. The poem has 48 lines in total, which are structured into 18 stanzas of varying lengths. Most stanzas contain three lines, which is the longest length of a stanza in the poem. The shortest stanza is the final one, which contains only one line: “to begin” (l. 48).

 The poem does not follow a set rhyming scheme. Sometimes two consecutive lines will rhyme, such as in the second and third stanzas: 

I say remember
the ship
in citizenship

for language
is the baggage (ll. 3-7)

In the example above, the lines follow a coupled rhyme scheme of AABB. The same rhyme scheme can be found in the lines:

I’m here to navigate
not flagellate (ll. 19-20)

Sometimes, the final word of a stanza will rhyme with the final line of the following stanza, such as:

for language
is the baggage
we bring -

a weight
of words to ground
and give us wing – (ll. 6-11)

Stanzas six to eight also have such a rhyme, though it is imperfect as the word “cost” (l.18) does not have the exact same rhyme as the words “cast” (l. 15) and “past” (l.21). 

The irregular composition of the poem with stanzas of varying length and without a set rhyme scheme helps to offer rhythm and musicality to the poem. Moreover, the fact that the poem is written in free verse and has no set rhyme or pattern helps give the poem fluidity rather than constraining it to set rules. This fits the content of the poem, which has water and sailing ships as one of its main motifs: 

for is not each member
of the human race
a ship on two legs

charting life’s tidal
rise and ...

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