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Meaning of Life and Poem Essay

Introduction Chinodya is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe. A good writer, he won the first prize in Literature in English in the Zimbabwean Book Publishers Associations’ Award in 1991. He has also published several children’s books in his life. Discussion There is no set garentee to unlock the meaning of a poem. Each poem dictates an individual mode of approach. A useful approach to the analysis or discussion of a poem is to list some of the elements that are foregrounded in the poem.

M H Abrams defines foregrounding as follows: `To foreground is to bring something into the highest prominence, to make it dominant in perception’ (Abrams 1993:274). Foregrounding may be achieved in several ways. The writer may repeat certain words or an entire line to draw our attention. Sometimes, the typography (setting of type) and punctuation may be manipulated for effect. Even images, such as visual or auditory, may be heightened for attention.

Now that you know the meaning of the term foregrounding, use it sometimes in your discourse of poetry. Just as Banoobhai foregrounds irony in his poem `He’s a Good Boy, This One’. Chinodya foregrounds certain elements in his poem for our immediate attention. Before proceeding any further, list at least THREE elements that are foregrounded in `Recollection’. Your list would probably look like this: . Repetition of words: remember, thorn . Use of sound devices (appealing to the sense of hearing)

. Use of colour (appealing to the sense of sight) . Conversational tone . Use of long vowel sounds to slow down the rhythm . … and so on. Try to incorporate some of the above points in your discussion of the poem. The English poet William Wordsworth celebrates the power of the imagination to recall and re-live memorable experiences in his famous poem `I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ (often referred to as `The Daffodils’). Chinodya’s poem is reminiscent of Wordsworth’s poem.

The foregrounding of the word `remember’, by its repetition, suggests that the speaker’s memories of his childhood days are vivid. It also induces a nostalgic mood which contributes to the overall effect of the poem. Minute details such as `crouching thorn trees’, `criss-crossing bush paths’ and `coarse crop of grass’ suggest memories that are still alive after all these years. Unlike Wordsworth’s poem, `Recollection’ sketches a past which was not always idyllic (look up the meaning and pronunciation of this word if you are not sure).

In the third stanza, the speaker’s description of his childhood days is interrupted by the unpleasant memory of a harsh law: I remember the big sign that said Something about people not being allowed in ? Such memories are indelible and often shape our attitudes as adults. We recall how in our own country apartheid laws restricted Black people (including Indians and Coloureds) free access to public places. Although as a child the speaker was too young to know the significance of the `big sign’, its effect on him as an adult is a lasting one.


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