Essay, Pages 3 (748 words)
“Like sheep after shearing” (line 8)
The above mentioned simile compares the men in chains to sheep after their wool has been shaved off. This image is effective because, as this is a form of animalization and also dehumanizing. This emphasizes how everything was taken away from the men including their most basic belongings. The sheep’s wool can be compared to clothing, so these men can literally be naked and also it can be symbolic for how apartheid stripped them of all their human qualities and they are now compared to animals in the poem.
“With steel rings like cattle at the abattoirs” (line 16)
This simile compares the men to cattle being taken to an abattoir (which is a slaughter house where animals get slaughtered). This means the men are traveling towards their own death. The prisoners are being compared to animals with no freedom at all and they live in their own “camps” where they are all going to be killed.
This tells us that white authorities treated black men like animals during the apartheid era and because of that, them being compared to animals is effective. This simile causes us to feel sympathy for these men.
When reading the poem and understanding the way that it is written, the word choice used in this poem (imagery and diction) makes you to feel sympathy for the men. The tone is set up in a manner that sympathetic feelings get awaken in the reader to feel for the men suffering in this manner, the appearances of the men and the daunting environment they find themselves in.
The poet does this by using both aural and visual imagery to clarify the description of the atmosphere of which the poem is drowned in.
He starts of by defining the dull weather which he says is frosty. Then he comes to express his vision, explaining what his eyes see. “Men shorn of all human honour” (line 6-7) he analyses their appearance as a lack of honour. They were deprived of their own rights of human honour, it has been vigorously ripped out of their lives. He uses alliteration to describe the way of which they are being handled, “like sheep after shearing” (line 8), alliteration emphasizes on the quote, attracting our attention and making us more aware of the description.
The word “shearing” used in line 8, clarifies how exposed or naked the men were to the human eye. How very little privacy they own, again linking back to the lack of honour in their favour. The poet again uses alliteration, “bleating at the blistering wind” (line9), this time he talks or describes the not so great weather that they are exposed to.
A man complains as the poet puts it about being “naked” (line 11) and this is not in a literal sense but metaphorically. They are disclosed to the world remaining exposed and their dignity invaded and taken away. “Bare feet” (line 13) and “wrists handcuffed” (line 14), this creates a clearer perception of what force the prisoners are facing and handcuffing someone means taking away their freedom. “Ankles manacled” (line 15) is an extension to his already proposed point of a tie up of one’s freedom using force.
When the poet makes reference to the wind, “Go away! Cold wind! Go away!” (line 10) the central understanding is that he does not literally mean that the wind should “go away” but figuratively he means that these people who treat them badly should leave them alone and set them free from what they are putting them through at the moment.
When he talks about the sun, “‘Oh! Dear Sun!” (line 23) he shows us how the men are pleading with God to help them see hope, to rescue them from this cold harsh environment they are in. They want to have their freedom back and at the moment the only thing they have is having hope in God to help them during this tough time.
The shortness of some lines emphasize some important words and the harshness and the suffering of the men in this particular dilemma they are facing. It shows the extent of their pain and hopefulness.
The implications of the last line “The train went on its way to nowhere.” (line 26), is that the prisoners want the train to take them away “giving them freedom” and yet it (the train) does not which means that they never got their freedom but instead were killed.