Youth Day

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This poem is about High School children that began a march for a better education system on 16 June 1976. They had banners that showed their hatred at being forced to undertake 50% of their schooling through the medium of Afrikaans. They wanted the chance to freedom of spirit and speech. Police intervened trying to spread out the youth by means of teargas and live bullets. This resulted in a lot of lives being lost and South Africa made June 16th a public holiday, Youth Day.

The poet places himself in the shoes of one of the teenagers who participated in the Soweto uprising of June 16, 1976. He sees himself the day before the event, foreseeing the tragedy that is due to erupt. By using no punctuation in the poem the poet allows for individual interpretation, the lack of punctuation refers to a freedom from all rules, it can also be interpreted as portraying a freedom of spirit. Punctuation often offers precise meaning to a sentence so it makes you feel like the poet was trying to make you notice the freedom of spirit.

Figurative language is used by the poet. The reader has to use his own imagination in order to construct the meaning of the expression. The poet highlights sadness when he speaks the “sad song sung by a woman. It is not a song but the dirges sung by the women who are wailing the deaths of their children. The poet also makes use of alliteration “sing my sad song sing for me” to emphasise the dirges and wailing of the parents. The poet truly brings out the emotion of sadness and hopelessness in this sentence.

The poet also uses a lot of metaphor in his poem. He writes “strummed by an old man with a broken bow”. They are strumming a metaphorical guitar of sadness and shock and the “broken bow” is the creased foreheads of the old men who are in shock and mourning. Sunset is used as a metaphor for death; “sunset is drenched with red” it is the blood that has been shed on that day, when the sun is setting a life is lost and the...
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