Author intent has been criticized and analyzed for many centuries. For some, the intent of the author is very important. For others, the intent of the author is nullified given the reader's response is found to be far more important. In regards to understanding an author's intent behind a work, the author, him or herself, would have to be questioned as to why they wrote the piece in the first place.
That said, the intent of the author is typically inferred. This happens by the reader responding to the text. The reader can ask him or herself about the meaning of the poem, how the poem makes them feel, and the emotions elicited in the poem.
Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali's poem, "The Abandoned Bundle," tells the story of the speaker's interaction with a pack of dogs who have mutilated and killed a baby. The mother, relieved of her burden, walks away
her face glittering with innocence
her heart as pure as untrampled dew.
Therefore, Mtshali's intent may be to show the reader the horrors of life. He may also be wishing to depict the harsh reality of life where the poem takes place (South Africa--assumed given the poet's nationality and citizenship). Mtshali may also want the readers to understand the necessity of loss and acceptance (in regards to the lives of mothers who cannot care for their children).
In the end, the poet's intent can be based upon how a reader reads into the poem's action. Some may believe that Mtshali is wanting to shock the reader. Others may believe his intent is to show the reality of life.