An African Elegy Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 26 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of An African Elegy.
This section contains 1,378 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
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Stanza 1

Elegies are poems written to lament someone's death. In "An African Elegy" death isn't literal but figurative. The speaker is lamenting the death of a part of himself. The opening stanza creates a symbolic landscape full of exotic African creatures such as wildebeests, zebras, elephants, and okapi, a giraffe-like animal found in the Congo. Swahili are part of the Bantu peoples of eastern and central Africa. Duncan makes an explicit connection between the "marvelous" jungle in which the animals live and the "mind's / natural jungle." "Marvelous" primarily has a positive meaning here, but it picks up less benign associations as the poem develops. The preparation and hunting rituals engaged in by the Congolese men and women create a strange and ominous atmosphere in which death is omnipresent.

Stanza 2

Developing the image of death with which he ends the first stanza, Duncan personifies death here as "the dog-headed...

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This section contains 1,378 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the An African Elegy Study Guide
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An African Elegy from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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