Poems-in the Shadow of Signal Hill

1232 words 5 pages
In the Shadow of Signal Hill

Signal Hill is a strikingly shaped hill or small peak overlooking the harbour of Cape Town. It has been used as a lookout post since the early days of the Cape colony. From it, the viewer can see Robben Island, the bare scar where the suburb of District Si stood before its occupants were evicted and its buildings demolished and Langa, a black township on the outskirts of suburban Cape Town.

The overall significance of the title of the poem is that “Signal Hill” represents the higher, white authority or white government of the Apartheid era. The fact that it is a hill implies how the white government saw themselves as the superior party, the party that was raised above the nation they control.
The part “in
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When I read the poem, I almost feel sorry for the slaves and children. Maybe this is also what the poet wants - to create an emotional atmosphere so the reader can empathise with the black people.

I read the other students' analyses and I agree that the word "children" is used to suggest innocence, and this stands in contrast with the rest of the tone of the poem. My thoughts are that the images of "murky waters" and "howling wind" also contrasts against "children", because children are the symbol of happiness, laughter and care free circumstances. This, however is not the case with Langa. therefore the word "children" is used effectively to create contrast.

I read the other students said that the spears of the night is a metaphor for the black people fighting back. "night" and "spears" usually have negative, dark connotations, but in this instance it is the opposite: the black people represent freedom and light because they want to fight for what is fair and right.
Then I also thought that, although one reads it as "night", it can represent the homophone "knight". this will make absolute sense in the context of the poem and the explanation just given. (it is like "Bustle in the House" where "morning" can be heard as "mourning".)
"Knight" also has a positive connotation. In medieval times the knight represented the good. A princess was saved by a knight in shining armour.

Therefore the sentence "sharpen the spears of the night" can be reread as

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