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Poem Analysis

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Pre-writing exercise 1
•Man: This primarily mean adult male but can designate any human being regardless of sex or age. Wikipedia (2011) •Wall: This is an upright structure of wood, plaster or any building material serving to enclose, divide or protect an area. Wikipedia (2011) •Berlin Wall: This is the wall that separated East Germany from West Germany. Wikipedia (2011) •Wailing Wall of Jerusalem: It is the remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple courtyard. With the rise of Zionism movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish community and the Muslims. Wikipedia (2011) •Impregnable: This mean it cannot be broken into. Wikipedia (2011) •Moat: This is a deep wide ditch, usually filled with water normally surrounding fortified medieval towns as protection against assault. Wikipedia (2011) •Heart: This is the hollow, muscular organ that circulates blood from the veins to arteries. Wikipedia (2011) •Window: This is the opening in the wall that functions to admit light and air to the enclosure or building. Wikipedia (2011) •Spirit: The nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character. Wikipedia (2004) •Door: This is the opening in the in the wall by which to go in or out. Wikipedia (2011)

Pre-writing exercise 2
1.Walls: This is a metaphor because this is not a literal wall but the wall is an image that represents division. 2.Walk: Love is personified. The poet conjures up a picture of love as if it has the human attribute, which is the ability to walk. 3.Man is great wall builder: This an irony because the walls that man built have divided society. Pre-writing exercise 3

1.No. Mtshali is critical of man for building walls because they have brought regimented society. He cites the example of the Berlin wall which divided East Germany from West Germany.

2.The moat or water is fear inspiring because it is more divisive. Whilst the physical wall can be broken into using equipments like hammer, you cannot break through water. Even if you try to swim through, the water may have creatures that may eat you. 3.The tone is bitter. The poet is very critical of the white regime in South Africa for bringing racial division in South Africa.


Writing Exercise: The Essay

The analysis of poem the walls by Mbuyseni Oswald Mtshali

According to the Wikipedia (2011) the wall is an upright structure of wood, plaster or any building material serving to enclose, divide or protect an area. However Mbuyseni Oswald Mtshali has used the word wall negatively as a symbol of division.

In Stanza 1, he is using an irony when he say “man is great wall builder” because the walls men built have succeeded in only causing division. He cited the Berlin Wall which divided Germany on the basis of economic philosophy. The Berlin Wall divided Germany into East Germany which mainly practised communism and West Germany which was more of a capitalist country.

In the same stanza, he cited the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem which according to the Wikipedia (2011) with the rise of Zionism movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish community and the Muslims. So it is apparent the he is very critical of this wall because it divided the Jews and the Arabs which are mostly Muslims.

Of all walls, the most divisive and impenetrable wall according to Mtshali in stanza 1 “has a moat flowing with fright around his heart.” This wall refers to water because whilst the aforementioned walls can be broken into using equipments like a hammer, we cannot break into water. When you are imprisoned by water you are totally helpless. You cannot try to swim through the water because creatures in water can eat you. That is why he says “it is flowing with fright.” Even Nelson Mandela was imprisoned by water for many years at Robben Island. That is why the poet called the moat or water “more impregnable.”

Another interesting feature in this poem is the poet use of language. The language is vivid. He has achieved this by the use of imagery. In stanza 2 he referred to the racial division in South Africa as a wall without windows. This make us picture somebody who is suffocated in a house, without enough fresh air. So he rebukes the whites’ regime in South Africa during the Apartheid era for being repressive.

In the last stanza, the poet is using imagery to help us conjure up a picture of door which can be option to admit fresh air in house without windows. But the poet is saying the wall does not have a door for love to walk in. This mean the non whites were totally repressed and they do not even have a consolation. Their social lifestyle was totally restricted even in the matters of the heart. The white regime even dictated who the blacks can love and marry.

So clearly the poem the walls by Mtshali is not merely praising man but is ironically protesting to white regime in South Africa for introducing Apartheid in South Africa that was so frustrating to non whites and very divisive.

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