By Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (Kenya)
Atieno washes dishes,
Atieno plucks the chicken,
Atieno gets up early,
beds her sacks down in the kitchen,
Atieno eight years old
Since she is my sister’s child
Atieno needs no pay
While she works my wife can sit
Sewing every sunny day,
With her earnings I support
Atieno’s sly and jealous
Bad example to the kids
Since she minds them, like a school girl
Wants their dresses, shoes and beads.
Atieno ten years old,
Now my wife has gone to study
Atieno is less free,
Don’t I feed her, school my own ones,
Pay the party, union fee
All for progress? Aren’t you grateful,
Visitors need much attention,
Specially when I work nights.
That girl stays too long at market
Who will teach her what is right?
Atieno rising fourteen,
Atieno’s had a baby
So we know that she is bad
Fifty-fifty it may live
To repeat the life she had,
ending in post morten bleeding
Atieno’s soon replaced
Meat and sugar more than all
She ate in such a narrow life
Were lavished on her funeral
Atieno’s gone to glory
ANALYSIS OF A POEM
1. THE POET
Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (Kenya)
The title of this poem is ironical because it satirizes the speaker who also does the things contrary to what he is supposed to be doing.
The title symbolizes the various forms of fight for freedom. A freedom is a song which when it is sung, it awakens people and encourage them to fight for freedom. The house girls and other disadvantaged children have to be emancipated from the chains of torture, exploitation and oppression.
3.BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE POEM
This poem deals with the story about a girl, a house girl who is heavily exploited by her Uncle. The girl wakes up early every day, does everything in the house, and she is the last one to go to bed as well. Apart from doing so many works while others are enjoying more freedom, she is not paid and she has no access to basic needs like education, shelter and clothes. Desperately, she tries to finds her own solutions but she gets pregnant and she dies during giving birth.
SUMMARY OF THE STANZAS
Atieno is eight years old. She wakes up early in the morning every day. She beds her sacks in the kitchen floor because she does not sleep on either mattress or bed. The stanza also talks about the works Atieno does such as washing the dishes and plucking the chicken although she is only eight years old only.
Atieno is the persona’s sister’s child. She is her uncle. According to her uncle, she is his sister’s child and so she needs no pay for what she does. Her uncle’s wife can just sit and sew every sunny day while Atieno works.
Atieno is ten years old now. Because she is child, Atieno is also sly and jealous to other children who go to school. She wants to be like them, to dress like them, but her Uncle does not want that to happen. She also needs other things because she is growing already.
Atieno is now busier than before because her Uncle’s wife has gone to study. Now she has to do everything at home. She is less free. Her Uncle brags himself that he feeds her and he gives her many things and she should be grateful to him instead.
Atieno is now fourteen years old and her Uncle is now complaining about her new behaviours. Her Uncle says nowadays, Atieno stays too long at the market. Sometimes she stays long at the market while there are visitors at home who need attention. Her Uncle also explains and asks himself that ‘who will teach her what is right?’
Atieno is pregnant and she has a baby now. This time, she is blamed that she is a bad girl although no one taught her what is right or wrong. However, the baby’s condition is worse and she is also in terrible condition. She ends in post mortem while bleeding badly.
Atieno is dead. After her death, her departure is replaced with ceremony; meat and sugar which she never had when she was alive, were eaten in her absence. She had such a turbulent shorter life, but now people are enjoying things during the funeral. Her Uncle invite many people to her funeral and they lavish her funeral while she is gone to glory.
(Who is speaking in the poem). The persona of the poem is an ironical man/Uncle who does things contrary to what he is supposed to do. He is the exploiter and oppressor who enjoys doing these for his own good.
(Whom the speaker is speaking to). The addressee or the audience of this poem are those who exploit and oppress others in this way or other. The audience of this poem is also the people like Atieno who unfairly suffers for the benefits of others.
The tone of the poem is ironical, satirical, and hypocritical one.
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