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Before the Next Song and other Poems Analysis


The poem Savannah Man is a sarcastic poem that’s laughing at the youths. It is a poem filled with an important message for the young and the old The poet laughs at the younger generation for its senselessness Although there is a tendency of ridiculing the elderly, the poet contends that the joke is in fact of the young. Younger people are portrayed as being deluded into thinking that ageing is synonymous with redundancy.

Amid widespread ageism and discrimination of the elderly, Chihota raises his voice on behalf of the despised generation. Ageism is one of the contemporary issues.  The poet explores the attitudes of the younger generation towards the elderly. The tendency to  marginalise the elderly in social circles as well as at the work place is growing. Growing old is synonymous with becoming ugly and redundant.  The simile of “the morning-after’s mouth” creates an unpleasant and smelly olfactory image. This brings out the disparaging attitude with which the young regard older people.  It is common for younger people to look down upon the elderly and to deem them as irrelevant. It is this prejudice which the poet seeks to lay bare.

The metaphor of the “dry donga-bed lips” creates a concrete visual image a lifeless feature devoid of any succour. This reveals the derogatory attitude defining the modern younger generation. Today, the

media is awash with content glorifying the ‘forever-young’ ideology while portraying ageing as an unwelcome guest hence the use of the metaphor that suggests barrenness. Advancement of science and technology threatens to replace the elderly as the stewards of knowledge and wisdom. In today’s world, counsel is a click away. Be that as it may, Chihota contends that the grey-haired generation is important.

The poet argues that without the elderly, the society is not complete.  The metaphor of sparkling “wavelets” refers to the wise words uttered by the old man. The words have the power to generate meaning in life. As wavelets carry fresh and clean water, so are the words of the old man. They rejuvenate the society by pointing out what is right and what is wrong. Here the poet portrays the elderly as the custodians and repositories of wisdom. The poem invites the younger generation to take heed of the counsel of the old. Harmony is brought out between the old and the young as the wavelets and “Mupfure” river are engaged in a play. In this context, the persona validates the relevance of both the old and the young in the society. According to the persona, these two groups of people are important as they compliment each other.

Symbolism has been employed aptly to  capture the significance of the elderly in the society. The word “early-morning” and “summer” connote not only a new life but also one characterised by delight. The words also emphasise the aspect of enlightenment emanating form the guidance of the elderly. The poet subtly suggests that the younger generation is lost. In its prejudice and arrogance, it has neglected and marginalised the older generation only to be taken aback upon realising that it is losing out on wise counselling from the old. The metaphor of “dry donga-bed lips”conveys the notion of contempt and a condescending attitude on the part of the youths.

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