I need help with a line by line analysis of the poem, "Love Poem for My Country" by Sandile Dikeni.  Can you help me understand this poem?I need more information in understanding this poem. I...

I need help with a line by line analysis of the poem, "Love Poem for My Country" by Sandile Dikeni.  Can you help me understand this poem?

I need more information in understanding this poem. I really dont understand it. I  also need help in identifying the figures of speech, if there are any. Thans

Asked on by kiri

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ssengupta's profile pic

ssengupta | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

The refrain, "My Country," at the beginning of each stanza emphasizes the national ethos of the poem. These are substantiated by attributes of love, peace, joy, health and wealth, and, finally unity.

Thus far, summarized like this, there is hardly anything remarkable about the poem.

But when you notice HOW these characteristics are described, that's where the poetic merits come in. Love is associated with the valleys and ancient rivers flowing the full circle of life; peace is spoken for by the SILENT and open grassland (veld). The juxtaposition of "spoken" and "silent" itself is intriguing. Nature is praised, even the traditionally ugly reptiles "carress" the surface, "glittering" with elegant motion."Health is equated with the sea, life giver to myriads of animals; and fish are described as "jewels. Finally, unity; probably the most important aspect of this patriotic poem. Whereas love, peace and joy are expressed by the plant and animal world of South Africa, unity is expressed by "millions in their passion...hands joined together, hope in their eyes."

Poetry, like the rest of literature, is essentially self-referential; i.e., while it has a message, like this poem is a clarion call for hope, peace and unity for South Africa, IT IS THE WAY IT EXPRESSES THESE FEELINGS which are most important for us the readers. Think about it: many people can and do love their country. But can they express their love in a way that draws our attention to it? If they can -- as this poet obviously does -- they are poets. The rest of are just patriots.

The main figure of speech in this poem is metaphors: because it makes valleys SPEAK love; velds declare peace SILENTLY; fish are jewels deep under the earth. Notice also that jewel fish are cleverly juxtaposed by the GOLDEN voice of the miners -- another metaphor.

Why do poets use metaphors? The easy answer is to make the poem attractive to others, to say it in such a way that is unique. A more complex answer lies in the way languages work in human thought formation. Metaphors, a famous linguist recently said, is of the flesh. Our ability to join disparate things together to create metaphors -- valleys speaking, silently declaring, the mountains talking, golden voices -- all lie latent in our desire to be effective when we speak. It is the human ego. When we speak with other people we use metaphors: Dikeni's poem goes OVER MY HEAD would be a good example. But when we write, especially when we are a Dikeni, we employ these types of poetic technique consciously, strategically so that people read our poetry and appreciate it.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The poem is a hymn of love for the nation of South Africa.  It extols the virtue of pride in one's own nation.   The first stanza addresses the notion of how Dikeni feels that his nation represents one of love.  The adorning imagery in this stanza supports this as the speaker suggests that the feeling of love emanates through "rivers" and "hills" in his nation.  The second stanza addresses the domestic tranquility and peace to which his nation strives.  This is enhanced with how Dikeni describes the shared belief of peace that even "reptiles" caress its surface with "their glittering" and "elegant" dances which reflect "pride."  The third stanza talks about how the joyous nature of the nation, which is highlighted with animals such as baboons who are able to scale boulders and cliffs with a motivating sense of majesty.  The fourth stanza  deals with the vivacious and lively condition of a nation, complete with "the blue of the sea" and the "jewels of fish."  This helps to fulfill the vision of a wealthy and healthy spirit that underlies a successful nation.   This praise of health is sung by all citizens, even a miner, who toils "under the bowels of the soil."  The closing stanza preaches the idea of unity of a nation immersed in a collective sense of consciousness and belief over a million strong.  The last line confirms this sense of hope and promise, as it closes with a future call to celebration.

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