“The child is not dead” is a free-verse poem of five stanzas. It makes extensive use of repetition, parallelism, and anaphora, as well as lists and litanies to evoke a sense of time and place. The first two verses parallel each other, with the child lifting his fists against his mother, then his father, and the sense of place reinforced by the line:
Who shouts Afrika! shouts the breath
This line in the first stanza is repeated with slight alteration in the second, while “the veld” is contrasted with “the streets.”
The third stanza begins with a litany of of locations that connect massacres and the death of innocence around the world, referring to Nyanga alongside Langa, Orlando, and Sharpeville. The fourth stanza is the longest and most expansive, and the repetition of “the child” at the beginning of four consecutive lines emphasizes the presence of the child's influence at all times and in all places. This is explicitly stated at the end, with the assertion that the child is “everywhere” and “grown to a man treks through all Africa.” Finally, the child is “grown into a giant” to travel “through the whole world.” The long fourth verse and extended lines give a sense of space, allowing the child who is not dead to grow into a man and a giant, and to expand his influence across the world.