Vocabulary: Winds – takes a twisting route “to have many bends and twist” Aches – to hurt with a dull pain “to feel a continuous dull pain” Belch – to burp noisily “to let air come up noisily from your stomach and out through your nose” Strummed – to sweep fingers over a stringed instrument “to play a guitar or similar instrument by moving your fingers up and down across the strings” Brow – is a person’s forehead “the part of the face above the eyes and below the hair” Drenched – to be soaked through “to make something or somebody completely wet” “ ”
Hornby, A.S. ed 2010. Oxford Advanced leaner’s Dictionary of Current English. 8th Edition: Oxford University Press My Notes: The poem is a free verse there is no punctuation; it describes the anxious thoughts of a teenaged boy who does not know what tomorrow will hold. The title of the poem includes the words “June 16th. ” This date is a very significant date in the history of South Africa, as Youth day is commemorated and celebrated on this day. It goes back to the time in South African during the Apartheid regime.
On June 16th 1976 thousands of students marched in the streets of Soweto to protest against Bantu education, which limited the level of education to most South Africans. There was an angry youth crowd fighting against and angry government and this resulted in the police killing two hundred young people and injuring hundreds more. This poem is therefore a good poem as it reflects how the people felt during this time in history and it also reflect where we come from as a nation and how the youth can play such an important role in changing an entire history of a country.
Critical analysis on the poem: A young man’s thoughts before June the 16th, by Fhazel Johennese. To me “A young man’s thoughts before June the 16th”, written by Fhazel Johennese is quite a good poem. I must admit I had to read it quite a few times before I started to understand it. Although it is a short poem, the style is simple and the writer gets straight to the point. I understand that the poem is about a young man who is about to go and fight for his rights in South Africa, but I feel that he would rather be somewhere else.
I like the poem, it is not difficult to read and you can feel the emotions of the young boy through the words written in the poem. He is anxious about what tomorrow will bring and just wants to be a normal young person. He longs for his mother and wants to spend time with his friends and he knows that he will probably die. In this poem, Fhazel Johennesse is placing himself in somebody else’s shoes (this person knowing that he was going to die as a result of the march of June the 16th). Therefore he is not the narrator of the poem but rather a character which will result in his death.
The poet uses words like “I, me and my” which make the poem very personal and you can imagine the young man going through all the emotions that he is going through. The poem can be seen both as literally and figuratively therefore making the reader or narrator enjoy how the poem has been described. In the literal sense, the person in the poem is going to march, “travel on a road” (line 1) on June the 16th. There is a use of alliteration which occurs by the use of the phrase “broad belch of beer” (line 7). However figuratively, the “march” is the journey, the struggle, against apartheid for a better tomorrow.
The speaker slows the poem down when reading it because of the repeated alliterations, this make the poem full of sadness. In the last line the poet writes that his sunset is drenched with red. This symbolises that there is going to be a lot of lives lost and their blood will be spilled all over the place. The poet uses a lot of literary devices in the poem: Firstly the whole poem is written in small letters. This shows that the person in the poem feels inferior and does not think highly of himself. Also there are no punctuation marks used in the poem, the lines just go on and on.
This emphasises the fact the he is in an on-going struggle that just goes on and on. His thoughts, “his sweet memories of (his) youth” are unstoppable. He thinks about the important things like his family and friends, despite his trials and tribulations. “The Friday nights…with a broad belch of beer” (alliteration in line 6 and 7) for example, were important to him. His thoughts run onto the next line and maybe death will ultimately make his thoughts break. The lines of the poem are long and because there are no punctuation marks in this poem, one does not know when to pause because of this.
This therefore makes the poem to be slow paced and makes you think of a sad song, sung at funeral. This emphasises that the poem could be some kind of a tribute to one of the young men who died on June 16th. In the poem we also read about the “my heart aches for my mother…” (line 5) and “sweet memories of my youth” (line 4). This makes me think that he must be very young and if he had the choice he would rather be somewhere else instead of facing death. When we read a poem such as this it makes us realise that many people old and young alike have died to make a difference in South Africa.
On June the 16th we should remember what so many young people stood for and even gave their lives for. In the poem all that the young man wants is for someone to remembers and to tell others the story of what happened on June the 16th, so that those of died did not die for nothing. BIBLIOGRAPHY * Hornby, A. S. ed 2010. Oxford Advanced leaner’s Dictionary of Current English. 8th Edition: Oxford University Press * Ways of knowing: Fiction, Poetry and Drams, Tutorial letter EED102G/101/3/2012.