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Listen Mr Oxford don

This study guide will help you analyze the poem “Listen Mr Oxford don” by John Agard. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.

Presentation of the poem

Title: “Listen Mr Oxford don” [1985]
Author: John Agard

John Agard (b. 1949) is a playwright, poet, and short story writer who was born in British Guyana. In 1977, Agard moved to the UK. His works largely focus on the immigrant experience and the clash between the British culture and his Caribbean culture. You can listen to Agard interpreting the poem “Listen Mr Oxford don” here.

Excerpt 

Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Mr Oxford don

Mr Oxford don is a name given by the narrator to the typical Englishman in the UK. Although he is not directly described, most of the Englishman’s traits can be observed by the use of contrasts.

For instance, lines 4-5 show that the Englishman graduates while the immigrant immigrates. Readers sense that there can be no other way.

When the narrator makes references to weapons, we get more information about Mr Oxford don:

“I ent have no gun
I ent have no knife”
 

Even if the narrator tells nothing specific, we get the sense that native Englishmen always discriminate immigrants, seeing them as extremely dangerous criminals. The result is that Mr Oxford don symbolises racism and an extremely traditional view of the world, becoming rather nationalist and refusing everything that is different.

The line “dem accuse me of assault”  also shows that Englishmen normally accuse immigrants of crimes without even knowing whether this is true. Mr Oxford don becomes, then, a stereotype of the typical Englishman, who cannot accept anything except what he already knows. He becomes a symbol of the racial discrimination in the UK and readers cannot help but view him as the negative character in the poem. 

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Listen Mr Oxford don

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