This study examines the use of symbols and images as poetic techniques in South African poetic writing. The poems seek to address the issues of socio-political injustice, apartheid, oppression and man’s inhumanity to man in the society, a kind of counter – attacking the apartheid system of the South African society, which allows for inequalities and abject poverty of a section of the society while the other section thrives in affluence. At the end we discover how Dennis Brutus and Oswald Mtshali expose the terrible state of affairs in South Africa through their revolutionary implantation of symbols and images.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Title Page i
Table of Contents vi
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Study 1
1.2 Biography of Dennis Brutus and Oswald Mtshali 4
1.3 Purpose of the Study 6
1.4 Justification of the Study 7
1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study 8
1.6 Methodology 8
End notes 9
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Poetry as a Societal Outlook 11
2.2 The Sociological Approach 12
2.3 Apartheid in South African 15
End Notes 18
(A) Symbols and Images as Poetic Techniques in the
Poem of Dennis Brutus “a Troubadour I Traverse” 19
End Notes 29
(B) Symbols and Images as Poetic Techniques in the 30
Poems of Oswald Mtshali
End Notes 37
CHAPTER FOUR: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
4.1 Summary 38
4.2 Conclusion 40
Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas, this literary device is used by poets to create a mental picture in the mind of readers, it is also used to widen their reasoning faculties see Northrop Frye “Anatomy of criticism” (1957) describes four types of symbol i.e Symbol as an image, a metaphor, a sign and it representation of an idea, this work is based on the symbolic image on Frye (1957) with reference to the sociological archetypes used by the selected poets.
An image is a mental representation of anything not actually presented to the senses but which appeal to our senses through words. Thus we often speak of “seeing” something in the “minds” “eye” some times we may run over a tune in our mind.
Writers of poetry always write with cryptic expressions to coach their themes, poetry is one of the most difficult genres of literature because of its use of symbols and other literary devices. The use of symbol makes poetry not easily accessible by readers, according to Sam Adewoye (1988):
Poetry constute a bazzar of fear confusion
for its reader especially students of poetry
Culler however believes that poetry has a complex effect which are very difficult to explain” (1981:37). Culler believes poetry has some elements in it which makes it difficult and not easily accessible.
According to him, poetry is one of the most difficult genres of literature because of the use symbols images, the diction, and other literary devices. Charles Bodunde (1999).
Poetry is a highly orderly artistic creations, a
cumulative verbal entity through which a poet
express a vision of life, hidden to the less imaginative
The statement above by Bodunde expresses the fact that a poet talks about things happening in life, in his environment and things happening in the globe hidden to the less imaginative, according to him a poet uses his poetry to express his own view of what is happening in the society. Furthermore, the high artistic creation in the verbal entity is a pointer at symbolism in poetry.
Poetry is the spring that stirs the mind. It uses
the language that is highly imaginative which
explains the reason why it is not always
understood by everyone.
Jones meant in the above statement that the use of diction, some literary devices and phonological elements makes use of highly imaginative languages, literary devices such as simile, metaphor, personification, imagery, allusion, symbolism among others in the poem and this literary elements make poetry a difficult course for students especially students of poetry and practical criticism. It is for this reason that our T.S. Eliot is of the view that:
“Poetry is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality in their poems but they write from experience which they have had earlier in life, they visualize societal ills using symbols through their poems they profound solutions to the ills poets therefore do not write their poems to express their personality but poetry is on escape from personality with references to Eliot once again:
Poetry has not a personality to express, but a
particular medium, which is only a medium
and not a personality, in which impressions and
expressions combine on peculiar and unexpected
ways, impressions and expressions which quite a
negligible part in the man, the personality. (1981:144)
As explained earlier that poets do not express their personality in the poems but they write on visible things in the human society, happenings, either positive or negative and trying to profound solutions to the negative ones.
This research work tends to see how two South African writers Dennis Brutus and Oswald oppression, corruptions and apartheid through the use of literary devices like symbolism and imagery in their poems. Dennis Brutus is a patriotic poet, he is a poet that has the masses in mind, through his poems he teaches and continues his campaign against racism and racial discrimination in South Africa using majorly the media of symbol and images Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali also writes about a people, a life and a hostile society. He knows very well and has experienced. He writes subtly about survival and the sufferings of his people. These poets have something in common and that is the fact that they both make use of local materials in their poems to portray their cultural background and to arrive at sociological theory of literature. This theory will fully be discussed in our chapter two.
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