A Young Mans's Thought Before June 16th

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A young man’s thoughts before June the 16th
in English, Poetry
by charles lin
SEPTEMBER 28, 2012
A young man’s thoughts before June 16th
Fhazel Johennesse
tomorrow i travel on a road

that winds to the top of the hill

i take with me only the sweet

memories of my youth

my heart aches for my mother

for friday nights with friends

around a table with the broad belch of beer

i ask only for a sad song

sung by a woman with downturned eyes

and strummed by an old man with

a broken brow

o sing my sad song sing for me

for my sunset is drenched with red

Analysis
Background
In 1976, the students of Soweto lead the protest against the government’s plans to implement Bantu education. This marked the beginning of the Soweto uprising, many were shot or killed by the police during this demonstration against education in Afrikaans.

This pathos poem communicates the thoughts and feelings of one of the students in 1976, who would lose his life in the protest. This poem concentrates on the human aspects rather than political convictions.

Title
A young man’s thoughts before June 16th
“A young man” is a general reference to the protesters of June 16th, by being unspecific, this suggests that the casualties of the protests are of a high number and also the large group that participated in the protest on the 16th,.

“thoughts” suggests that the poem is reflective.

Body
tomorrow i travel on a road
that winds to the top of the hill

In lines 1 and 2 the speaker expects to encounter a difficult and unpredictable path ahead of him, it is a metaphor for life.

“i” suggests that the speaker feels that he is insignificant when compared with his comrades in the protest.

“winds” suggests the unforeseeable future. The path ahead of the young man is not straight-forward but rather twisted and difficult. It requires strength, effort, discipline and courage to reach “the top of the hill.”

i take with me only the sweet

memories of my youth

Lines 2 and 4 conveys the bitterness of the young man, it suggests that the young man is required to sacrifice things that mean a lot to him.

The enjambment and isolation of “memories of my youth” further emphasizes the sacrifices of the young man, which is meaningful to him and lacks material items.

my heart aches for my mother

In line 5, the speaker conveys his distress, which suggests that danger awaits him.

“aches” suggests suffering and a continuing pain. It also suggests that the speaker’s mother would grief for his death.

“for” suggests the speakers longing for a sense of security and protection provided by his mother. This longing implies the strong bond between the speaker and his mother.

for friday nights with friends

around a table with the broad belch of beer

These 2 lines, 6 and 7, suggests that the speaker is an ordinary young man. Here he collects his thoughts and memories before joining the protest.

The alliteration of the f-sound suggests harmony and good friendship.

The speaker’s relationship with his friends is suggested to be unconditional, they accept each other’s “broad belch” unconditionally.

i ask only for a sad song

sung by a woman with downturned eyes

Lines 8 and 9 suggests the speaker’s absence.

The alliteration of the s-sound suggests a hushed, sorrow song.

“downturned eyes” is a submissive action which may either suggest sincerity or that the woman is hiding her sorrows by avoiding eye contact.

a broken brow

This line conveys an image of the old man’s brows, which may either be ‘broken’ by a scar, which then suggest violence, or it may be ‘broken’ by wrinkles of grief.

The forceful sound of ‘b’ suggests suppression and oppression.

o sing my sad song sing for me

“o” this is an interjection which emphasizes the speaker’s grief.

“sing for me” suggests that the speaker is no longer present, therefore he cannot sing for himself.

for my sunset is drenched with red...
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