City Johannesburg Poem Analysis

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The title of the poem could be seen as the central Tenor, metaphorically specified by a number of underlying vehicle and/or metaphorical constructions, which all serve to illustrate the ambiguous relationship the lyrical subject has with the city Johannesburg. The title may also suggest a central Vehicle referring to the conditions black people were subjected to during the apartheid era. In other words, as a central Tenor in the poem the title refers to the city only, but as a Vehicle, the title alludes to a deeper meaning that characterizes the oppressive nature of apartheid. Regardless of the reading one would prefer, “City Johannesburg” is about Johannesburg during the apartheid era and the lyrical subject vividly describes how s/he experiences the city in this era of ethnic oppression. Line 1 introduces the lyrical subject’s purpose in the poem by stating “This way I salute you”.…show more content…
However, the irony of this salutation is immediately overshadowed by lines 2 to 4 when the speaker states “My hand pulses to my back trousers pocket/Or into my inner jacket pocket/For my pass, my life,”. We realise that the Tenor in this metaphorical construction “My hand” and the verbal focus “pulses” constitute a metaphorical construction because it is language that has been deliberately made different. However, the objects “my pass” and “my life” are related to the subject and main verb because the connective word “Or” and the linking word “For” in lines 3 and 4 respectively extend the construction past line 2. So, to understand the hidden metaphor included in these lines we can read line 4 as, “My hand pulses for my pass [and] my life”. The objects “my pass, my life” are linked to the subject “My hand” by the verbal focus

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