‘Points of View’ Commentary ‘Points of View’, written
‘Points of View’ Commentary ‘Points of View’, written by Lucinda Roy, is a poem that features different points of view (as the title suggests) on the subject of water: those of women collecting water in, what can be assumed to be, an African country and those of a person living in a modernised (possibly a ‘Western’) country. Furthermore, Roy seems to be critical of the aforementioned Western lifestyle and this poem presents an underlying moral that everybody should be grateful for what they have, regardless of how basic those things are.Roy’s poem is comprised of two main stanzas; the first of which details the women’s daily struggle to provide water for their families. The term “scoop up” evokes an image of a woman scooping up water with her bare hands, which is definitely an image of poverty – perhaps these women are unable to afford buckets and are forced to resort to desperate measures; although it isn’t stated by the author, the reader may assume that these women have travelled great distances to acquire this source of “life”.
Referring to water as “life”, or as a source of life, is representative of how African (and other regions in a similar state) would view water: quite literally, finding clean water is their source of life and as such it is extremely precious. Thus, near the end of the poem, water droplets are compared to “diamond-drops”, which demonstrates its worth by comparing it to diamonds.Although the role of a woman, in the first stanza, is presented as a life giver for her family by “offering” life to the husband, children and elders – even putting a “blistered cooking-pot” before herself – females are ultimately, fairly or not, presented as inferior to everybody or everything: they “offer” water, as though to one of a higher status. Alternatively, the role of women in the poem is more one of a provider, providing water for her family as the strongest individual in the same way that a parent would provide food by working, in Western society.
Furthermore, the first stanza is written in the third person which allows Roy to narrate from an omniscient perspective; which she does, detailing the struggle of multiple women in their search for water. The poem does shift into the first person in the second stanza, which brings about an immediacy and allows for great sympathy from the reader – which, ironically, isn’t necessary (the narrator seems unaware of the important of water, considering that there is no trouble in finding it).In the beginning half of the second stanza, in contrast to the first stanza, the narrator details how easy it is to serve water and seems unaware of its importance to life. By compartmentalizing the “beast in ice” and then serving it to distance friends, Roy is comparing the two points of views of collecting and serving water: the women in the first stanza have great difficulty in collecting water and so will only serve it to their immediate family, whereas the person in the second stanza can afford the luxury of handing out water to distant friends.
The final part of the poem starts with the question, “What do I know of water? ”; it appears as though the narrator has questioned her own beliefs about water and then turned to a different society for comparison to her own. After asking the question, she appears to go back in time, swimming through rivers “thick with time” (possibly a reference to how water has always been a part of human history, the eyes symbolic of the water ‘watching’ us), to ask the women mentioned in the first stanza to show her what water means to them.Which, as she finds out, is a complete contrast – instead of compartmentalizing it, the children jump through the “diamond-drops” (another reference to how valuable water is). It is interesting how some of the narrator’s Western-like education seeps through into the stanza; now, in contrast to the first stanza, there are terms such as the children jumping not through ‘water’, but from “element to element” (air to water) and imagery of diamond-drops shooting along “trajectories too long for me to measure”, as opposed to the first stanza’s fairly basic lexical choice.Overall, this poem displays two different points of view surrounding water – those of an assumed Western woman and African woman (I feel that it is safe to assume that the narrator is a woman, since there is a lot of references to women in the first stanza – thus setting the tone for the rest of the poem).
As we can see, the two views are vastly different but it is as though the narrator questions her own views of water and seeks answers from the people who value water the most; something that would be a somewhat humbling experience, I’m sure. Finally, I would say that this poem is very relevant to today – many people living in a Western country do seem to take water for granted, and this poem seems very critical of that, as there are people who have to struggle to obtain what is considered one of life’s most basic needs.