Much could be said about the metaphorical significance of inside/’outside’ and the resolution of bringing the outside in – and why the first person narrator does this. I would, therefore, expect you students to consider the significance of the person outside the door being like your own son, who is variously described in terms such as:

‘lurks’, ‘is waiting’, ‘watchful’, ‘defying every shadow’, lost in shadows’

The poet revises such emotively biased  terms, such as ‘terrorist’, ‘freedom fighter’ ‘guerrila warrior’, ‘hostile militant’  into viewing the outsider as a cautious young who courteously accepts the host’s hospitality.  As he removes the confusing labels, Dharker shows us the humanity of ‘the outsider’, describing him is someone who valiantly defies the metaphorical ‘shadows’ (perhaps of doubt and fear), and yet who, ironically at the same time, uses the literal shadows for safety.

Have a look at this youtube video, by J Brierley, about ‘The Right Word’, which is in The AQA’s poetry ‘conflict’ cluster.  It covers analysis of form, structure, language and tone.  Note that the GCSE ‘Poetry Across Time’ exam does not test for AO4 (contexts).   The analysis of this poem is not up to Brierley’s usual quality: it is wordy, hesitant, rather vague and lacking in deeper insight – however he does make some useful initial observations.

Imtiaz Darker’s poem ‘The Right Word’



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