Are there any notes available on the poem 'Men in Chains' by Mbuyiseni Oswals Mtshali?

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Currently there are not any notes about the poem "Men In Chains" by Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali here on the enotes website, although if you do an Internet search you will be able to find it discussed on various sites online. In the meantime, here are some things to think about...

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Currently there are not any notes about the poem "Men In Chains" by Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali here on the enotes website, although if you do an Internet search you will be able to find it discussed on various sites online. In the meantime, here are some things to think about when you are reading the poem.

Firstly, consider the title, as it is our first sense of what the poem is discussing. Who are these men and why are they in chains? Is the title literal, metaphorical, or both? What is the narrator's relationship to these men?

Secondly, how does the poem explore the idea of humanity and dehumanization through the use of images and descriptions, particularly the use of words connected to animals? Think about, for example, the following lines:

men shorn

of all human honour

like sheep after shearing

Next, you could think about the message of the poem. How does the narrator-observer feel about what he is witnessing? How is the idea of hope portrayed? What is the poem trying to convey to the reader? Is it a hopeful or a despairing poem? What is the role and symbolism of the train, and how does this connect these men in chains to a longer history of slavery?

Finally, it is essential to consider the social and historical context of this poem. Mtshali's life and work were impacted by the effects of living during the regime of apartheid in South Africa and this poem should be read with that in mind.

There are answers to questions about other poems by the same writer on this website so you might be interested to take a look at them too to get a better idea of his work.

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