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Gabriela Pearse


Some challenging questions!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 4 March 2014
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The poem is a very brief but poignant look at the desperate cry for help from a person in despair, and the ironic response with which this plea is met.


Gabriela Pearse was born in Colombia (South America) of a father from Trinidad but with a British mother. She would later move to the United Kingdom, where she studied at Warwick University.

Her poem -- "Today" -- sums up very briefly the impersonal world in which we find ourselves today, a world in which one person has no longer the time for another's despair.

Pearse uses very short but stabbing verses and lines. Indeed, there are just four verses, while none of the lines exceeds six syllables. Does the poet have any specific reason for doing this?

On the other hand, is there any reason why the number of lines in each verse gets fewer as the poem proceeds -- from five lines in verse 1, to four in verses 2 and 3, and then only three lines in the final stanza?

The poem must also not be seen simply as the story of one person in need but is rather a microcosm of today's world where people are becoming more and more individualistic, and less and less caring.

Today we are concerned more about ourselves and less about others, more about our material pursuits and less about helping others whom we meet on our journey through this life.

Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:

"A woman with a gash
so deep and wide in
her black soul."
  • Why does the poet refer to "her black soul"? (4)

[Need help?]

  • Why should the poet speak about "her soul" and not "her spirit"? (4)

[Need help?]

  • Comment on the significance of the words "a gash so deep and wide" in her soul. (4)

[Need help?]

  • Why does the poet speak of "a gash" and not "a wound"? (4)

[Need help?]

"her black soul
came and spilled her
self over me."
  • Is there any reason why "her self" is divided into two words -- and is divided over the two lines -- and is not written simply as "herself"? (4)

[Need help?]

  • Comment on the fact that her black soul came and spilled herself "over me". (4)

[Need help?]

  • Why does the poet use the word "spilled" and not, say, "poured"? (4)

[Need help?]

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