Satire in Poetry - English Poetry Notes

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  • Satire is a stylistic device where a persona uses a mocking language to criticise people, things or situations. The poet might create characters at whom we can laugh, especially by depicting them in a ridiculous way.
  • Satire is mainly used to expose the wrong or foolish deeds or beliefs of a person or society.

Spoiling Our Celebrations

When last Jamuhuri day
The ceremonial flag stuffs were laid in our streets
It was soon discovered
Twenty of the new flags had been stolen
“We fear,” said the council
that if the theft continue
the whole of the Jamuhuri celebrations
may be ruined

We only recently acquired this new set
Of one thousand from the government
Each cost sh1000, we spent sh 1,000,000 on all
Police are searching for the thieves

The flags which are six feet by four
Are not being stolen for display
They are probably used as rags
Or bedcovers by beggars

This is misusing a national emblem
In an undignified manner
What a shame that beggars in their beds
Are not dignified with their bedcovers


Describe satire in the poem above.

The persona is mocking the government for putting so much emphasis on the dignity of the flag as a national emblem but ignoring the wants of the poor and beggars who have no beddings and have now resorted to stealing the flags for this purpose. It is funny that the government officials talk about indignity of the beggars when they actually have been abandoned with no self dignity by the government.

I Went to Church

I went to church today
Yes I went and prayed for all
Friends and foes alike
Dead and those alive

I also prayed hard
For the soul of that soldier
Who got shot
Fighting for our motherland
While I shot hot life into his wife

And I prayed to God too
That I live long
To go and pray again


Describe satire in the poem above

The poet uses the poem to ridicule church goers. That some of them go there to cover up their sins and do not really go with an aim to repent and worship. The persona thinks of carrying on with his adulterer behaviour which will keep him coming to church. He says he prays for the soldier who got shot while the persona was shooting hot life into his wife.

Western Civilization

Sheets of tin nailed to post
Driven in the ground
Make up the house

Some rags complete
The intimate landscape

The sun slanting through the cracks
Welcome the owner

After twelve hours of slave

Breaking rock
Shifting rock
Breaking rock
Shifting rock
Fair weather
Wet weather
Breaking rock
Shifting rock

Old age comes early

A mat on the dark nights
Is enough when he dies
Of hunger


Describe Satire in the above poem.

The poet mocks western civilisation. The received wisdom is that western civilisation is always associated with exotic modern things and ways of living but the persona in his quest for western civilisation experiences hardships working on hot and rainy days until he ages quickly living in a shanty house. This is the darker side of the civilisation that many people go through and that the persona knows well.

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