Analysing Charles Mungoshi Before The Sun

1299 words - 6 pages

In before the sun Charles Mungoshi gives us a beautiful impressionistic picture of nature, as I assume, in his native Zimbabwe.
The first stanza strikes me as possessing of a somewhat matter-of-fact language, akin to that which might be used in a weather forecast.

'Intense blue morning
promising early heat
and later in the afternoon
heavy rain'

The word 'promising' here used to describe a warm sunny morning, inevitably causes associations in the readers mind with a report on the days weather. This has the effect of creating an external observer in the poem, one that is omnipotent in a way, as is eloquently (or rather with lack of eloquent embellishment) put forth toward the end of ...view middle of the document...

The natural references in this stanza, include a reference to air, water, wood, earth time and metal, emphasising the impressionistic nature of the poem.
With reference to wood, 'bright chips', to metal 'sharp axe', to air, 'through the air, time in, 'eternities later', and water in, 'settle down in shower' and 'dewy grass' which refers equally to land. The imagery created through this language use is very serene, even though the action through which it is represented is a violent one (ie. Chopping).This stands testament to Mungoshi's skillfull language use.

The shift from speed and acuteness to slow serene appreciation of the natural elements and time (for which we owe Aristotle), comes from first the shift from monosyllabacy to long words already described and the use of a single word line,'arc': Both these devices slow down the pace of the poem's movement. 'Arc' has the benefit of having a line all to itself, through which emphasis may be laid on it, causing the reader to halt momentarily, evn possibly experiencing the imagery of the arching motion of the wooden chips.
This is followed by another (the second and last) seven syllable line in the sentence:
'and eternities later'- through whose language the length of time that the chips are seemingly suspended in air is emphasised. The use of the word, 'eternities' does this through its meaning, of infinite time and its length, holding the honour of the longest word in the stanza.
The use of the word 'showers' furtherr emphasises the easy movement as it is soft sounding owing to the 'sh' sound and long owing to the long vowel sound and disyllabicity.

We are then introduced to the subject of this chopping with, 'It is a big log'. The overtly simple, matter-of-fact, childish language. The words 'big log' indicate simplicity regarding the appriach to the lod. As I understand it, Mungoshi uses the 'big log' as a metaphor for obstacles, but also as a double-entendre for a rather self-evident sexual reference by an indication of the chopper's age in 'but when you are fourteen'. He further clarifies the double-entendre with, 'big logs are what you want'., perhaps implying (the sexual refernece being blindingly obvious) that the boy intends to cement his ego through challenging himself.

The 'wood' reffered to in the next line of the 'big log' or the challenge, 'gives off/ a sweet nose-cleansing odour,perhaps implying that challenges rejuvenate.
I reach this conclusion as the scent given off is a result of trying to chop the 'big log' and metaphorically tackle a challenge. Therefore the 'nose-cleansing odour' is metaphorically a reference to the fruit of success resulting from having undertaken the endeavour.

Mungoshi then writes in the fifth stanza,
'It sends up a thin spiral
of smoke...

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