An Analysis of Breyten Breytenbach's Poetry

Topics: Psychology, Mind, Allusion Pages: 3 (1190 words) Published: October 17, 2001
In his poetry which he wrote during his time in jail, Breyten Breytenbach shows that his wife and his love for her had a tremendous influence on his survival under the physically and emotionally harsh conditions of prison. The thought of his wife allowed Breyten Breytenbach to escape from the horrors of his surroundings in prison and gave him psychological freedom; word from her let him escape into a world of space, peace and freedom created for him in her letters, memories of being together with his wife transported him psychologically to another time and place where he had been free.

Breytenbach's poem your letter is delightful… shows the important role that his wife plays in his life. She is his "God", for even as God's powers become useless in the chaotic world around him, she is able to bring him joy and hope and free his mind. Breytenbach compares his wife to God in this poem by using biblical allusions. The letter from his wife is "…lighter than the thoughts of a flower when the dream is the earth of a garden…" She brings light into his world, just as God brings light to the world at the beginning of time. With her letter comes images of light, of freedom, of joy. The "earth of a garden" brings to mind the garden of Eden, a paradise, to where Breytenbach can escape from reality. His wife also brings "word from the outside", and in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. The poem contains many allusions to Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd", which reinforces this role of Breytenbach's wife. "…allow me to live in your letter / all the days of my life" is an allusion to the part of Psalm 23 "…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord throughout the years to come". Her letter creates a safe place for Breytenbach to mentally escape to, and he would like to be able to stay in that place, away from reality, from prison, for all the days of his life. Breytenbach's wife needs to replace God in Breytenbach's life because God seems to have...
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