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Gabriela Pearse


Some more 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:

"Asking to be held
like no-one held her."
  • What is the subject of the participle "asking"? (1)

[Need help?]

  • What is meant by "like no-one held her"? (4)

[Need help?]

  • What language device is being used in the above quotation? (1)

[Need help?]

"Asking to be fed
like no-one fed her."
  • Explain what it is that the woman needs to eat. (3)

[Need help?]

"She crawled beneath
my skirt trembling and
afraid and clasped
my lifeboat legs."
  • What image is being used in these four lines? Explain your answer. (4)

[Need help?]

  • Why would the subject be crawling "beneath my skirt"? (4)

[Need help?]

  • Explain the significance of "my lifeboat legs". (4)

[Need help?]

"But I had meetings
to go to,
and a world to save."
  • Explain the irony of this final verse. (4)

[Need help?]

Some general questions:
  • Is there any reason for the short verses and the very brief lines? (4)

[Need help?]

  • Why is this poem entitled "Today"? (4)

[Need help?]

Try another worksheet?

See also:
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