Noshi Gillani

Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self by Noshi Gillani

Although ‘Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self’ is a short poem it packs in a lot of content and thought-provoking ideas as well as some striking metaphors. Ostensibly I think the poem is about fitting in and finding your place in the world and that oft received the feeling of wanting to return to the familiar. This concept is informed by Gillani’s own life as no doubt she has felt the way the poem describes meaning that the poem is likely to be at least partially autobiographical. The poem has an air of desperation as the narrator pleads for a return to their old life. Even going so far as to call out to God for help. There are suicidal undertones prevalent throughout the poem as well which helps to emphasise the emotional turmoil that the narrator is enduring. This makes for a very powerful poem.

Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self by Noshi Gillani


Form and Tone

‘Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self’, which can be read in full here, is presented in six couplets, making it quite a short poem. There is no rhyming pattern; in fact, rhyme isn’t used at any point during the poem. It is quite morose in tone and clearly the narrator is experiencing a great deal of stress at this point in their lives. The language used is colourful and poetic and this really helps to drive home the intense feelings that the narrator is experiencing. ‘Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self’ translates beautifully into English.


Analysis of Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self

First Stanza

Can someone bring me my entire being?
My arms, my eyes, my face?

As mentioned above, this first stanza of ‘Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self’ introduces the idea of displacement and probably springs from Gillani’s own experiences of diaspora, which is the process of having to disperse from ones homeland, often due to religious persecution. Gillani is much travelled having lived in her native Pakistan, the USA and Australia. The feeling of lacking her entire physical body is an interesting concept. This is clearly a slight twisting on the phrase “can someone bring me a new pair of legs, often uttered when a person has tired legs. Using this device really gives the impression of the narrator not being comfortable in their own skin. What is also very thought-provoking is the fact that the second line is a question rather than a statement. As if the narrator is questioning where these things have gone.


Second Stanza

I am a river flowing into the wrong sea

The narrator objectifies themselves in this stanza describing themselves as a river. A river is fluid and dynamic. Which would on the face of it give the impression that the narrator is in full control and adaptable. However, they state that they are flowing into the wrong sea. This is really interesting as it gives the impression that despite being a well-adjusted person that they are really struggling to fit in in their current environment, like a fish out of water if you will. The second line is remarkable as the narrator requests to be returned to the dessert. One wouldn’t usually associate a river with a desert. Perhaps this is the narrator’s way of saying they want to be somewhere where they feel they are useful?


Third Stanza

Life goes on but I want no more from it


In the third stanza of ‘Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self’, we see the poet attempt to be optimistic, using the oft-uttered “life goes on” this is the title of a famous Beatles song. But the poet’s optimism is quickly diminished as the end of the line says that they want no more from life. Is this an allusion to suicide? Could it be that the narrator’s feelings are so intense they are considering “taking the easy way out”? The enjambment line gives this impression, but we see from the stanzas second line that this is not the case as the poet nostalgically longs for her father. This is a clever poetic device that leads you to believe one thing to be true and then subverts it. However, this technique here does help to emphasise the significance of the narrator’s feelings.


Fourth Stanza

My vision does not admit this new season


The narrator is steadfast in their views on their current status. They do not admit it. They describe their situation as a season which is an interesting choice of words. This suggests that change is possible. As we all know the seasons change with time. In the second line, once again the narrator pines for their old life. However, they refer to it as a dream. Is this meant to suggest that their old life was so good that it was like a fantasy or the idea that getting that back is unrealistic? Like it is a dream and probably won’t become a reality.


Fifth Stanza

Of finding one face among the many in my city


This couplet runs on from the previous one. This suggests that the narrator’s dream is to find a person who “gets her”. The suggestion is that they feel lost in the city and they are searching for somebody that is special. Finding “the one” suggests that they are searching for love. Could it be that love is the key to feeling like they belong in the city that clearly doesn’t feel like home?


Sixth Stanza

My life has been a boat in a whirlpool for so long


In this final stanza of ‘Can Someone Bring Me My Entire Self’ the narrator again emphasises how emotional they are about their current situation. They liken their life to being a boat in a whirlpool. This points to a turbulent life. A life where they have never been able to settle. In the final line the narrator makes a plea to god. The wording here is really interesting, asking God to let them sink, is this once again a hint at wanting their life to end? The other option they pray for is a return to the desert. As previously mentioned they feel that draw to home. Although there is an interesting mix of metaphors here. Whereas before the narrator longed for the dessert, this was when they were likening themselves to a river, a river in the desert would feel important, relevant if you will. Here the narrator has likened themselves to a boat. A boat would be far less useful in the desert. Is this a subtle hint that perhaps the grass isn’t greener on the other side?


About Noshi Gillani

Noshi Gillani is an Urdu poet from Pakistan. She was educated at Islamia university. All of her work is written in Urdu but some of it has been translated into English. She is married to another Urdu poet, Saeed Khan and the two of them reside in Sydney, Australia. She has more than half a dozen poetry collections to her name. Her poetry style is very frank and to the point. As well as working as a poet she has acted as a translator too: translating poetry from English into her native Urdu. Growing up she had to live with diaspora and this process seems to inform many of her poems including this one.

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Lee-James, a.k.a. LJ, has been a Poem Analysis team member ever since Novemer 2015, providing critical analysis of poems from the past and present. Nowadays, he helps manage the team and the website.
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