General Discussion
 Topics of or related to poetry. 

eMule -> The Poetry Archive -> Forums -> General Discussion


Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In
"Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Chad (---.cnslabs.ualberta.ca)
Date: February 01, 2005 09:46PM

can someone help me in analysing this poem? here it is.

Oswald Mtshali

Slowly he moves
to and fro, to and fro,
then faster and faster
he swishes up and down.

His blue shirt
billows in the breeze
like a tattered kite.

The world whirls by:
east becomes west,
north turns to south;
the four cardinal points
meet in his head.

Mother!
Where did I come from?
When will I wear long trousers?
Why was my father jailed?


i have a few ideas about it...cultural identity, philosophy change from east --> west (the whole communism democracy thing) , same thing with north and south hemispheres...innosence of the boy...

still thinking any help would be appreciated. thanks.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-01rh15-16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: February 02, 2005 11:45AM

I suppose one could interpret many messages conveyed by Mtshali (I wonder how he pronounces that), such as comparing the swing to a boy's growing up. The swirling, ever-growing questions of life, boggling the mind with their intensity, I mean. But personally I feel the boy, much like the emperor, will never wear long trousers, nor any clothes at all. Could be it makes more sense in Swahili, sure.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: heather altree albright (---.ph.ph.cox.net)
Date: February 02, 2005 03:35PM

That poem is so cool!
Swings are so cool
Boys with butterflies in their bellies


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Marian-NYC (---.nyc1.dsl.speakeasy.net)
Date: February 02, 2005 04:55PM


Wow.

Up to the last line, it's a great evocation of childhood. The boy is totally caught up in the moment of swinging. The world he can see is the whole world to him, and the Great Questions in his mind range from esoteric ("Where did I come from?") to mundane ("When will I be old enough to..."). Then the last line hits you and says, "Children are the same everywhere, but where there is oppression, they have to deal with things you would hate to have to explain to them."

Very effective, I think.

The imagery - kite, compass points - is chosen, I think, to emphasize the childs FEELING of being unlimited, which is then sharply in contrast to the extreme limitation he will face when he is old enough for long pants. Likewise the verbs - swish, whirl - are about free movement, in contrast to being in jail.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: LRye (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: February 02, 2005 10:10PM

When I first read this poem, I thought, cripes,
how boring and overly simplistic.

It's about a boy on a swing---images images, blah blah
nothing unusual or very interesting

and the over-used image of his blue shirt like a kite---

and the word "swish" seemed out of place---water related---
so the shirt would have been better likened to a sail on a boat . . . maybe.

But then we get to this third stanza and something strange occurs---

"The world whirls by:
east becomes west,
north turns to south;
the four cardinal points
meet in his head.

Ok, so we get the idea that up in the air, like a kite, the world becomes
directionless. But what is this "four cardinal points"---the tails
of his shirt, or some Catholic reference, or both?

This is beginning to hit on some ideas now---

is the boy destined to become a priest?
I don't know (for his sake, I hope not).

Then the next stanza---

"Mother!
Where did I come from?
When will I wear long trousers?
Why was my father jailed? "

seems to refer to religion again,
or how none of us as humans really know who we are
or who our parents are on a spiritual level.

It sure would help to know some history about its author
in analyzing this poem.

Sorry to not be more help,

Lisa


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-05rh15-16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: February 03, 2005 12:05PM

I suspect we are all tempted to read great meanings into anything that purports to be a poem, but I suppose you both could be right while I am (shudder) wrong.

Make the swing an African country; make the boy one of its citizens; make the motion of the swing events that take place in such a country; make the boy's questions statements on that country's development or lack thereof, and one could infer a deeper meaning than I get from it.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: LRye (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: February 03, 2005 12:40PM

So, another e x t e n d e d metaphor eh?
Beats me.

Lisa


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: February 03, 2005 02:10PM

I vote for Marian's

Kid in the country...a really crappy country


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Marian-NYC (---.nyc1.dsl.speakeasy.net)
Date: February 03, 2005 02:15PM

It could as easily be a kid in the U.S., I suppose.

Someone said it was written in Swahili, so I pictured Africa. Also, in the U.S. we don't use the word "jailed" that way.

But wherever the boy is, he's a normal boy with a heavy question.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Linda (---.l1.c2.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: February 03, 2005 02:24PM

I don't see religion in the third stanza. The points of the compass, north, south, east and west, are known as the cardinal points. You then have the half cardinals (north west, etc),intermediates and by points.

Nothing to do with men in red hats in Rome.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: February 03, 2005 02:52PM

or St Louis for that matter


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: LRye (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: February 03, 2005 06:26PM

Well thank heavens that little boy was spared a life of misery
within that realm.

Lisa


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: February 03, 2005 11:37PM

Q: Why did the Pope raise the urinals in the Vatican?
A: To keep the cardinals on their toes


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Chad (---.ed.shawcable.net)
Date: February 04, 2005 01:34AM

ya I didn't think there was a religious reference either.... im still confused as to what the shirt/ kite really stands for... i thought about it as a metaphor for sailing as well...maybe traveling?

also "tattered" reminded me of the poverty of the Blacks during the apartheid. (this poem was a soweto poem from the 1960s in south africa)

no one else got the political and philosophical changes from the 3rd stanza about theological changes happening throughout the world? hmm

im still confused as to what the author is really getting at...there should be some underlying sociopolitical message he is trying to convey to other Black South Africans, as poetry was one of the ways in which to tell other Blacks about the "Black-Consciousness" and fight for feedom etc etc...


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Linda (---.l1.c2.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: February 04, 2005 12:33PM

Why shouldn't the poet write something simple and straightforward about what he sees outside. Maybe he was fed up with social comment that day.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-04rh16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: February 04, 2005 12:52PM

Make the shirt the country's flag. Sorry, I left that out before.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: February 04, 2005 02:03PM

No, its just a shirt !


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-04rh16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: February 04, 2005 02:44PM


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: nanchin (216.147.137.---)
Date: March 26, 2009 06:59AM

This is my opinion on the poem.The boy probably had those questions on his mind and the swing was meant to distract him. But like hunger pangs the questions keep coming and until he is satisfied, the questions will remain. He says 'when will I wear long trousers' This may mean a sort of maturity. Those with long trousers are the grown ups. He wants to be like them, he wants to participate in the struggles but he is not permitted to because he is not yet of age.


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: IanAKB (124.168.65.---)
Date: March 27, 2009 06:24AM

You may be right, Nanchin, about the boy having those questions on his mind. But then again, it could be that he had repressed them in the harsh reality of his day to day existence, and it was only the disorienting motion of the swing (east becoming west, north turning south, etc) that freed him from his normal inhibitions and caused him suddenly to articulate them.

Looking back 4 years it is interesting to see how much my fellow E-mulers of those days (some no longer in the Forum, alas) managed to read into what at first reading seemed a fairly light weight poem.

Ian


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: Ordinary_girl (82.38.60.---)
Date: November 05, 2009 04:24PM

I may be compeltly wrong but persoanlly I think it is about when all the important elemts of your life completly change yet all come together, about the sense of growing up and suddenly wanting to know everyyhthing you never thought to as because you realise everything matters and can change in a second.

I am sure this has more cultural references but I think that it also symbolises this for everyone.

Beth


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: barakobama (120.50.18.---)
Date: November 18, 2009 12:36PM

ya I didn't think there was a religious reference either.... im still confused as to what the shirt/ kite really stands for... i thought about it as a metaphor for sailing as well...maybe traveling?

also "tattered" reminded me of the poverty of the Blacks during the apartheid. (this poem was a soweto poem from the 1960s in south africa)

no one else got the political and philosophical changes from the 3rd stanza about theological changes happening throughout the world? hmm

[url= [www.pasangiklanmurah.com]]Kerja Keras Adalah Energi Kita [/url]
[url= http:// www.iklanbarispro.com ] iklan gratis [/url]


Re: "Boy on a swing"
Posted by: adamholland73 (112.202.5.---)
Date: December 03, 2009 01:39AM

That poem is so cool!


adam holland

Adam Holland




Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This poetry forum at emule.com powered by Phorum.