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Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali

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Poem "An Abandoned Bundle":
- published May 1, 2001
- viewed 65199 times

»An Abandoned Bundle«

by Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali

The morning mist
and chimney smoke
of White City Jabavu
flowed thick yellow
as pus oozing
from a gigantic sore.

It smothered our little houses
like fish caught in a net.

Scavenging dogs
draped in red bandanas of blood
fought fiercely
for a squirming bundle.

I threw a brick
they bared fangs
flicked velvet tounges of scarlet
and scurried away,
leaving a mutilated corpse-
an infant dumped on a rubbish heap-
'Oh! Baby in the Manger
sleep well
on human dung.'

Its mother
had melted into the rays of the rising sun,
her face glittering with innocence
her heart as pure as untrampled dew.

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Read all comments to this poem
  •  Paul Tetteh: "note on this poem"
  •  Paul Tetteh: "note on this poem"
  •  wonke: "bra mtshali u r da bst"
  •  . . . S . . .: "i need a mini essay on the imagery of this this poem aswell as th sound devices used please."
  •  Deliwe a.k.a nomhle dini: "Wow!wow!"
  •  Sello mosikare {discipline}: "Its wonderful"
  •  Kabelo a.k.a motia mohitlhi: "Its superfantastic well done to oswald mtshali"
  •  Lawrence dini{kabila}: "This poem is sad and its belong s to human being and it is superb"
  •  Smartass: "This is the Internet. If I wished to be confronted with images of dead babies, being eaten by dogs on piles of human faeces, I'm sure there is a site dedicated to such. Quite why poets feel the need for sensationalism to compensate for an inability to use a simile properly, I do not know, but here it is. Quite why this poem is inflicted on pupils in a misguided attempt at literary patriotism also escapes me."
  •  frank: "I think this poem is lame!!"
  •  Thembinkosi Sithole: "The poem still addresses the impurity and the doom that we still go through in our society and the environment. Today's society is not different from the society that Oswald'sher face glittering with innocence is addressing. We do terrible things and behave as if nothing has happened."
  •  nqhovi kurisani rikhotso: "congrats this is a touching poem bt not so reader friendly"
  •  mpho selenga: "this is a nyc i wish i cud write sumthng to enspire my community mr senonoi is our englsh teacher in valtech he rili lyks the poem oswald u there man."
  •  Ilka C.Buttrick: "I understand what you are talking about. It is unfortunately becoming common place in our country. I feel you did a good job in using your words to paint this sadness."
  •  Carlos: "The ladies must accept what they applied cause baby is a gift from god"
  •  Musandiwa tshedza: "Eix wat a touching poem"
  •  Candice Swartz: "Great poem..."
  •  Cebo: "Which image is used by the poet in stanza 1 to describe white city jabavu as being sick?"
  •  Muzi Happyness: "This poem is one of the most wonderful poems around the world"
  •  Sibu M: "Beautiful poem. Although to some it seems too honest,shocking even. But for me it is this rawness that makes it a work of art. Thanks Mr Mtshali."
  •  Joshua Smit: "lol had this as one of my school pieces"
  •  William: "AWFUL poem!"
  •  takalani mutshidzi: "the poem is about the prblem of poverty that South Africa is facing that results to young girls having sex and end up getting pregnant,only to make a living...those babies are thrown away because they can handle the responsibilities."
  •  anny: "I think this poem is filed with sadness and to do that 2 ur child is just wrong"
  •  Cedrick Baloyi: "It is so intresting poem but also sad when reading it. oh baby in the manger Oswald was refering to Jesus Christ who was put in the manger after he was born. Scavenging dog also potray the situation where you can emagine dogs fighting for an abondened baby. This situation was the result of the apartheid system. The mother was not geting the help that she supposed to get from the government. The best option was to through the child away. She rather suffer alone than with a baby..."
  •  zuyana: "this is a very touching poem expecially for me as a joung girl, it realy brakes my heart to see young girls trowing away their little babies.i was crying when i read this poem."
  •  Kholeka: "This is one of my fevorite peom ever.GOOG WORK MR MTSHALI"
  •  Puleng Paulinah Monare: "all i can say is wow!"
  •  bd: "Mtshali was a man who had a vision of what SA would be like. We've grown into a nation of materialistic, society of scavangers!!"
  •  kay: "i am looking for a poem i read many years ago, i forgot its title and the exact words. its always been stuck in my head. Its a witty yet comical poem about a guy who persuades his fancy to get intimate with him, claiming that time waits for no one and that while she is still beautiful they should get intimate. lol. if you know it please inbox me thanx"
  •  patricia: "where can I find study notes for this poem?"
  •  mzwandile sibiya: "it is so interesting poetry but trueful is painful after you complite it plz womens stay away from left innocent child like this"
  •  NKULE.HOTCHICK: "Yoooh dat a nice poem n it tells us the truth i lke it...."
  •  Nqhovi kurisani Rikhotso: "Oh what a touching poem:I'd lyk 2 sy congrdulation 2 mr mstshali: through reading this poem I uz 2 cry' eventualy I realizd tht its a bible connotation indeed: kuri 4rm namankena"
  •  Lijanda van Weik: "dis are very goog poem I found it very delicious en well! Fanc ju"
  •  Itayi Nyakudya: "The poem arouses a lot of moral questions: The evils of baby dumping, the plight of innocent children probably born into poverty and then abandoned as a result, irresponsible men who get innocent girls pregnant and then shun responsibility, teenage pregnancy which results in desperation and frustration in the poor African communities... The list is endless! This is a great (but poignant) poem. If you don't get touched by this poem then get your moral sense (the seventh sense?) examined."
  •  Faber: "Do not forget the context/period in South African history - when this poem was written. I think that the aby in the manger refers to Jesus. Jesus' the Messiah brought a message of peace, hope, understanding, love, compassion, forgiveness, etc. The baby who dies tragically is also a messiah, but brings a totally different message - death, destruction, hate, oppression, heartlessness, etc. (that has a grip on humankind). Perhaps it demand that we rethink our lifestyle and attitudes towards other. Oh yes, and to find it in our hearts to forgive the mother for her transgression(s) - for are we without sin?"
  •  Theo Nyathela- Venda Shayandima.: "Truly speaking, Mr Mtshali has a way of using words to open our eyes, to see what we have been trying so hard to ignre. This poem shows how the social ill's of South Africa have polluted our way of life. This poem does it for me. Big Ups Mr Mtshali."
  •  Mulalo Mulaudzi-Venda Khubvi: "This poem is very touching and can reduce the number of unwanted babies as the will think of making a very painful decision of her life"
  •  thobs: "dis poem was very intresting and easy 2 understant as it related to life situations.i jst lv Mr Mtshli poems"
  •  gift: "indeed a deep poem that captures our attention and makes us wonder....."
  •  mshini : "what a wonderful poem,but i just cant deal with the sadness"
  •  J 1: "What general impression does the poem give of the living conditions in ''White city Jabuvu''(Line 3)?"
  •  Yolande Du Plessis: "Very talented poet."
  •  olivia kyere: "This poem talks about South Africa and Apatite rule and how it corrupted all the good things of the country. The poem is just a metaphor of Apatite ."
  •  Ryan Cremore: "Do not like the bay in the manger bit - spoils it for me."
  •  ayanda milkylane: "this poem seems to be a sentimental value to the author and it is quite intrestinging"
  •  red violin: "i think that we need to lern from this,it is one strong poem."
  •  nuclear hil: "this poem is a complex andit can confuse you in the exams and for everyone writing exams goodluck"
  •  khanya masango: "this is one poem a person woud fail,because of the unstending an"
  •  nuclear hil: "its a very interesting poem and very complicated"
  •  Phumla: "Il b writtng ma exams p2 engsh nd i hope ths poem cums u coz i got a total on it last term"
  •  mariam ali ibrahim: "excellent poem, paints vivid pictures of immorality and poverty."
  •  Moemise Motsepe: "that's why they call him Mtshali... 27 years later, the poem still assaults my senses with such volcanic force..."
  •  Werner Smal: "Wonderful poem! show us a bit of reality!"
  •  Romeo: "Beautiful very beautiful"
  •  Edward Makasane: "It shows the social challenges faced by female teenagers in South Africa in the apartheid regime."
  •  thabo letsoene: "qiet an iterligent"
  •  Khanari T.D: "I always liked his, what a marvel to read"
  •  you: "wonderful poem good work"
  •  me: "dont you have any notes on the poem?"
  •  Rappiesstt: "This Sad but not so good :("
  •  Hettie Van Zyl: "dit was baie mooi."
  •  victor kori: "he is very good,this poem is deeply sad,i even feel the pain the mother when takin that decision"
  •  hazel: "a masterpiece in its own accord, very sensetive and touching...."
  •  pitjeng: "i really think he is a good poet,i wish to have his skills of communicating such touching messages to his readers"
  •  Kingsley: "The poem is good but are the events real. Too sad. God bless the poor soul."
  •  Raps: "It breaks my heart in pieces. A picture well drawn."
  •  Zandre Erasmus: "it brings up a memory of my own..... and its makes me even more sad....."
  •  Steinei: "Linguistics"
  •  Laetitia: "This is my English teacher's favourite poem, we spend an entire term discussing it, doing a full analysis and expressing our feelings on how we felt about babies being abandoned. When I read it for the first time, I was highly impressed and still am. It is a great poem and affects everyone in some way, no one can read this and not feel anything."
  •  Dazzle Miss blingsta: "Food 4 thought..."
  •  Christopher Kudyahakudadirwe: "It potrays the blight of the present day ills of our humanity that has lost direction."
  •  Chauke Malvern Tiyani: "it shows how situation can deform our humanity and the rottenness of society translates into our behaviour causing the innocent pain and suffering."
  •  SIjabu: "in the poem, what does this line mean? flowed thick yellow as pus oozing from a gigantic sore ?"
  •  Sivuyile Godongwana: "Lovely poem. I once read another one he wrote(The shepard and his flock).love that poem if anone has it please email it to me at"
  •  pd: "a foolish poem.if he had not written, I would not spend the whole of my time today , in the Cafe"
  •  Masechaba Wessie : "Beautiful and sad"
  •  Simmz Cele: "I read this peom back in high skool and it moved me then as it still does now.. any kind of poet to be really exceptional must not only be good with words but also have a great deep-feeling heart. I salut you"
  •  fayolla: "a vry touching poem. felt like crying wen readin it. to understand it deeper go to knowledge4africa, explains it deeper. love your poem"
  •  Anonymous: "As I read this , I could not help but realize the fate these people have been given by their society. And to capture this Fate in a work of art is genius. Very nice work! although it may be a sad reality and a crude piece of work, it was eye opening."
  •  Understanding Reader: "To answer a question posted by another visiter:"Baby in a manger" refers to Jesus Christ, who innocently died for the sins of Christians, conveying the innocence of the baby. This poem give me a feeling of total distress, it must be the hardest dicision a mother(still a child herself) can ever make, no matter how wrong it is in our eyes. I cried my eyes out during and after this poem, it had me thinking for weeks! A truely gruesome and awakenig poem as to life in a South-African township (Jabavu being a part of the infamous SOWETO township in South-Africa)."
  •  gabi: "What can I say about this poem? I can say it is wonderful, sad, an eye opener. But all these comments seem mediocre for this mans work."
  •  Violet: "Very sad but wonderful"
  •  Sfi 4 sho: "Wow what a wonderful poem"
  •  mel: "It is a very interesting poem but it should be explained for the deeper understanding."
  •  bridgettee: "the poet calls the child " Baby in manger". to whom is he referring?"
  •  MCW: "Damn, wonder what inspired this. Sad but luv ur work"
  •  tammy: "project"