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Poem commentary - Jack Mapanje, from "Of Chameleons and God".

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Daniel Hutt 04.09.03 POEM COMMENTARY Jack Mapanje, from "Of Chameleons and God" This voice in this poem describes a certain character describing the evolution of a dance that he and his fellow tribesmen used to practice constantly back when they were younger. He goes on, talking about how he was the "big dancer" and how he was the original at doing this rain dance. He is comparing himself (or the way him and his fellow tribesmen) used to dance, compared to how his offspring now dance in a more modern age. The description in the first stanza of this poem is informing us about how this dance was done a long time ago. The author uses such descriptions as "with snakes around my neck", "with spears in these hands" and "in animal skins with amulets rattled with anklets". By the way he speaks, we can tell that he is quite full of himself, in the second stanza he says "Haven't my wives at mortars sang me songs of praise, of glory". ...read more.


The first stanza consists of descriptive lines, explaining how this dance used to be. In the second stanza, there are also some descriptive lines, showing the reader what it was that he used to do during these dances. However, in the third stanza, he begins to ask questions instead of continuing to describe things. He asks "why don't I stand up". This shows us that something has changed, and that he wants to make a stand and do something about it, but unfortunately he cannot seem to figure out why he is unable to do anything about it. In this poem, there is a very minimal amount of rhyming. There are, in one or two cases, some rhymes, but they are not continuous. For example, "amulets" and "anklets" are used in the first stanza. There is not much rhyming because this poem was written in a spoken rhythm. ...read more.


The third stanza mainly introduces what the dance is like in the eighty's. We learn that everything is different, the dance is not the same, the people who are doing the dance are not wearing the same things and the music is artificial (cheating abstract voices of slack drums). Also, we realize that this dance is no longer done in the traditional way. It used to be done as a rain dance, in which tribesmen would wear specific items which could possibly correspond to their way of life. But now, in the eighty's, this dance has changed, and is done solely for pleasure reasons, not for religious or traditional tribal reasons. As the tribe's man finished off the last stanza, he begins to understand that things are just not like they used to be. He questions "why does my speech choke", realizing that he is not one of the mighty tribe's men (possibly Chief) that he once used to be. He does not accept this, and continues, even at the very end, to ask himself the same question, "Haven't I". ...read more.

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