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Chapter 16 - South Africa

from Part II - Nations and Voices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 January 2023

Jane Potter
Affiliation:
Oxford Brookes University
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Summary

South African First World War poetry is unique in its inclusion of Africanised metaphors, metonyms, and images, and the distinctive form and fluid structure of the indigenous war izibongo or praise poetry. White soldiers metamorphose into supple springbok antelope and black soldiers into powerful bull-calves to dispel the reality of battlefield rot. An Africanised bush and sea are superimposed on metaphysical and Romantic literary landscapes and seascapes in an effort to hide the corpse of war deep inside their ambiguous beauty. Furthermore, the indigenous war izibongo’s fluidity of form and dynamic orality allow the corpse of war to slip farther from psychological view. However, in the war poetry, the image of the monster Adamastor lurks that symbolises physical and psychological breakdown within an alien wartime and colonial milieu. Significantly, war poets used satire, irony, and imagist verse to foreground wartime jingoism and blunder, and war- and colonial-induced trauma.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • South Africa
  • Edited by Jane Potter, Oxford Brookes University
  • Book: A History of World War One Poetry
  • Online publication: 18 January 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009120098.017
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  • South Africa
  • Edited by Jane Potter, Oxford Brookes University
  • Book: A History of World War One Poetry
  • Online publication: 18 January 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009120098.017
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • South Africa
  • Edited by Jane Potter, Oxford Brookes University
  • Book: A History of World War One Poetry
  • Online publication: 18 January 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009120098.017
Available formats
×