A Portable Paradise Poem Analysis: AQA Worlds and Lives

A Portable Paradise

your white sands, green hills and fresh fish

Roger Robinson

Join us as we deconstruct the AQA Worlds and Lives poetry at GCSE level. This A Portable Paradise poem analysis takes the spotlight today, with the following explorations:

A Portable Paradise Poetry Analysis – Overview

A Portable Paradise wills the reader to hold on to their idea of paradise and keep it safe in the face of adversity, whether this is from their environment or from other people. In the poem, the speaker keeps his paradise closely concealed in his pocket so ‘they can’t steal it’ and only takes it out to look at it when he’s alone, by emptying it ‘onto a desk’. 

The notion of the paradise evokes sensory memories of a distant land, possibly Robinson’s own home country, Trinidad, with references to ‘white sand’, ‘green hills’ and ‘fresh fish’. The poem ends on a cautiously optimistic note, the paradise offering ‘fresh hope’ and the ‘morning’ connoting a new start. 

A Portable Paradise Context

Roger Robinson was born in 1967 in Hackney, East London. Aged four he moved to Trinidad with his Trinidadian parents and remained there for 15 years, returning to England just before he turned 20 to find work. Having a long and successful career as a dub poet, oralist and expansive verse poet, Robinson published his collection A Portable Paradise in 2019. Robinson says poets can ‘touch hearts and minds; they can translate trauma into something people can face’.

In A Portable Paradise, Robinson addresses controversial and taboo topics. The whole collection works as both separate poems and constituent parts of a longer, expansive form. In the haiku Beware, Robinson explores the real danger of police brutality against ethnic minority communities, written in response to the death of Rashan Charles, killed during a police chase in East London, 2017. Robinson also addresses the Grenfell Tower fire atrocity, Windrush, slavery, Bob Marley, the Brixton Riots and the premature birth of his own son. 

Recurring themes in Robinson’s work are the power of identity, Black culture and appreciation of the everyday items we collect in the course of our lives. In the poem A Portable Paradise, Robinson wills the reader to think of ‘Paradise’ as a collection of things that can be carried, ‘concealed’, then treasured in secret as an antidote to daily stresses and tribulations.

Form and Structure

The poem is part of a much longer, complex expansive form but also functions as a self-contained stand-alone entry. The use of caesura and enjambment provides its loose, conversational feel and the starting conjunction ‘And’ draws us as readers into the speaker’s confidence.


Memory and belonging: the poet speaks of a ‘grandmother’ in the past tense and in the same breath speaks of ‘Paradise’, which suggests that both are in the speaker’s memory and are interwoven. 

Personal triumph: there are repeated references to ‘stresses’ and other forms of adversity that must be overcome. Does this mean paradise is our reward or our safe haven from the trials and tribulations of everyday life? 

Identity: the speaker has a clear and deeply personal connection to his idea of paradise, which has become part of his identity. 
Belonging: the poet speaks of hiding his paradise in his pocket so nobody can ‘steal’ it. Therefore the paradise is precious and belongs only to him. Does the speaker also belong in paradise?

Linking to other Poems

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