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Theme of loss and longing in poems-Postcard from Kashmir, by Agha Shahid Ali and “Elena” by Pat Mora

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  1. Introduction
  2. Theme of loss and longing
  3. Postcard from Kashmir
  4. Agha Shahid Ali
  5. ?Elena? by Pat Mora
  6. Conclusion

Loss and longing are two universal emotions that are predominantly active in our human souls especially when we find ourselves away from the places we naturally call home. While migration has significantly contributed to the richness and diversity of cultures, ethnicities and races, it has also impacted the well-being of individuals involved including the general loss of cultural norms, and religious customs. Another issue immigrant have to deal with is the changes in identity and self-concept as they try to cope to the new culture they have been introduced to. Poetry serves as a great medium to address these cultural issues, through poetry we see the concepts of cultural identity and cultural bereavement being explored. A comparison of the literature poems, ?Postcard from Kashmir," by Agha Shahid Ali, and ?Elena? by Pat Mora will reveal to us how poets use the power of language and poetic techniques to lament this loss of culture.

In ?Postcard from Kashmir," the speaker of the poem yearns to go back to Kashmir, a place he once called home. When he says ?Now I hold the half inch city of Himalayas in my hand, this is home? (Lines 3-5), we see that the postcard has done nothing but further intensified his longing. The speaker also expresses sadness due to the realization that memories and pictures cannot compensate for being in your homeland. A postcard can also be said to refer to the fact that his understanding of his home has become shallow and incomplete, and his sadness is increased further when he realizes that it will be long before he returns back to his homeland.

[...] The use of the first person point of view in both poems intensifies the emotional effect these poems will have on the reader. First person narrative is the storytelling through the sound of the character, at a given moment, and referring to themselves (diverse Poets). It is effective since it allows us to experience what the speaker is experiencing in real time and therefore develop more empathy towards him or her as it creates and intimate connection between the reader and the speaker. [...]

[...] The general tone expressed all through the two poems is that of sorrow and nostalgia. Both speakers miss their homes, where they once lived, and are torn apart with the longing for these places. However , there is a shift in tone as the actual places are described for example, in ?Elena when the mother described her life in Mexico, it is with delight and fondness as seen when she says remember how I'd smile, Listening my little ones, Their jokes , their songs, their plots? (Lines 2-5). [...]

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