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Poetry Coursework:Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes (Lawrence Ferlinghetti) and Nothing's Changed (Tatamkhulu Afrika)

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Introduction

Poetry Coursework: Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes (Lawrence Ferlinghetti) and Nothing's Changed (Tatamkhulu Afrika) The American Constitution clearly states that all men are created equally and should have the same opportunities as each other. However, Ferlinghetti believes this is not true. In his observation he sees the garbagemen or 'scavengers' tired and weary from their route, working hard but still in unavoidable poverty. Also using a word like scavengers he compares the garbagemen to rodents scrounging a living at the bottom of society. He then sees the 'elegant' couple in an 'elegant' Mercedes, loving their life, not a care in the world, both wealthy and smart. The woman 'so casually coifed' and the man in 'a hip three piece suit' who, have both benefited from the inequality of the American Constitution, taking it easy in their heavenly life. Ferlinghetti understands the unfairness of the Constitution but knows deep down that it cannot change and will never change. In the poem Ferlinghetti makes many contrasts between the scavengers and the elegant couple. The title shows us straight away that the poem will be about the contrasts between two pairs of people. 'Scavengers' is a derogatory term for the garbagemen because it suggests that they live off the rubbish of others - a scavenger beetle lives off rotting flesh. However, 'Beautiful People' is a compliment. So, right from the start, we feel the garbagemen are at a disadvantage. ...read more.

Middle

In the 1960s, as part of its policy of apartheid (or separate development) the government declared District Six a 'whites only' area, and began to evacuate the population. Over a period of years the entire area was razed to the ground. Most of it has never been built on. The poem was written just after the official end of the apartheid. Afrika returned to District Six and was shocked to still see the same inequalities as before. Its title of 'Nothings Changed' suggests that Afrika's hopes for a fresh start and a better community for the inhabitants had failed. The poem is set out in six stanzas, each of eight fairly short lines. This kind of regularity in the layout creates a sense of control, the poet is very clear about what he is feeling - no sudden flying into a rage. But within that pattern the length of the sentences varies from a whole stanza to just two words. The first stanza is a calm opening to the poem that puts us 'in the poet's shoes'. It is as if we are walking with the poet across the rough ground seeing what he sees. Afrika cleverly expresses a possible future for District Six by using the word seeds. A seed suggests a potential for growth and expansion for District Six. The people have the will to change the are for the better and all they need is a little time to do so. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nothing's changed.' And indeed nothing has changed at all. Although these poems were written at opposite ends of the Earth they both have some striking resemblances. Firstly, they both depict the inequalities of different types of people. In Two Scavengers Ferlinghetti compares the rich and the poor and cleverly identifies the many differences between them. In Nothing's Changed Afrika shows us how different races of people are treat just because of the colour of their skin. Their differences however, are superficial, as they are exactly the same inside. They also both speak about the corruption of the systems of which they are under. Ferlinghetti uses the phrase 'across that small gulf In the high seas of this democracy' This simple phrase begs the question - Is this really a democracy? Afrika chooses not to ask the question directly, but expects you to ask the question yourself. In his autobiography he wrote: 'We may have a new constitution, we may have on the face of it a beautiful democracy, but the racism in this country is absolutely redolent. We try to pretend to the world that it does not exist, but it most certainly does, all day long, every day, shocking and saddening and terrible. I am full of hope. But I won't see a change in my lifetime. It's going to take a long time. In America it's taken all this time and it's still not gone... So it will change. But not quickly, not quickly at all.' ...read more.

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