Everything Has Changed

Everything Has Changed

By Mzi Mahola

I stood at the ruins
of my former school
where I was patiently moulded;
wild plants own every space now;
my soul was paralyzed.
What happened to the roofs
the doors and windows?
Can these dumb lonely walls
still recognise me?
Everything has changed;
the ground where we ran and laughed
and the corner of the playground
where I pummelled a schoolmate almost to pulp
are scarfed with wattle
to conceal my shame.
A short distance away
stands a renovated Church
(a Dutch Reformed formerly,
now Methodist)
embraced by a mute little cemetery
that claims the past
(the dividing fence has vanished)
though growth strangles it to near extinction;
cold names of departed whites
who were part of this community
and made monumental contributions
are etched on the headstones.
Sometimes whites come here
to clean and put flowers
on their family graves;
a voice whispers next to me
but I do not recognise its face
because Lushington has changed
except the graveyard.

Summary of Everything Has Changed

  • Popularity of “Everything Has Changed”: The poem “Everything Has Changed” by Mzi Mahola, a South African writer and poet, is a wonderful poetic piece. It is, however, not definite when he published this poem. The unique aspect of this poetic piece is the implicit reference to devastating development and remnants of colonialism.
  • “Everything Has Changed” As a Representative of Childhood and Colonialism: The poem opens the poem with nostalgic feelings that when he visited his former school that transformed his personality, he witnessed a sorry state of affairs. He saw that it was full of weeds. He was taken aback at this situation and saw that even the walls and the doors have changed. The playground was mocking him. He, however, saw a Dutch Reformed Church building duly polished and renovated with the cemetery beside it. Other than these things, he saw the difference that both remnants of colonialism have been renovated. The cemetery has not changed reminding the days of colonialism but the school building or education that colonization has left is now in ruins. He, the poet is, in fact, praising colonialism for its benign influence.
  • Major Themes in “Everything Has Changed”: Childhood innocence, the benign influence of colonialism and apologetic attitude toward neglect of the public places are three major themes of the poem. The poet has expressed his sorry in the very start when he sees that his former alma mater is in ruins and the building, walls, and the playground are making fun of him. However, when he sees the church building and the graves of the former white masters, he compares them with his alma mater and feels sorry. The only thing he sees left unchanged is the graveyard, while their neglect is peeping through their public place.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Everything Has Changed”

The poets use literary devices to beautiful poems and other writings. The analysis of these devices in the poem “Everything Has Changed” as given below shows this fact.

  1. Allusion: It means to refer to some events, incidents, happenings or persons of historical importance for emphasis such as Lushingston and a Dutch Reformed Church by the end of the poem.
  2. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “where I was patiently moulded”, /o/ in “of my former school” and the sound of /a/ in “are scarfed with wattle.”
  3. Alliteration: It is a device that means to use words in quick succession having initial consonants such as /w/ sound in “where we” and “with wattle” and the sound of /m/ in “made monumental.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ and /w/ in “the doors and windows?”, /p/ and /l/ in “where I pummelled a schoolmate almost to pulp” and the sound of /th/ and /t/ in “though growth strangles it to near extinction.”
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

a voice whispers next to me
but I do not recognise its face
because Lushington has changed
except the graveyard.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. The poem shows the use of imagery such as “my soul was paralyzed”, “to conceal my shame” and “to clean and put flowers.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poem shows the metaphors of school, church, and cemetery to compare the life of the colonizers and colonized in his country.
  3. Personification: The poem shows the use of personifications such as walls, church, and cemetery as if they have life and emotions of their own. The poet has personified them.
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows the use of the symbols of school, church, and cemetery as the orders of human life.

 Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Everything Has Changed”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction and tone: Although the diction is bedecked with metaphors and personifications, its tone is somewhat tragically satiric.
  2. Free Verse: The poem does not follow any rhyming pattern. Therefore, it is a free verse poem.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. This is a single stanza, having 34 verses.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “Everything Has Changed” are relevant to use when teaching the ravages of aerial bombing and its impacts on children.

a voice whispers next to me
but I do not recognise its face
because Lushington has changed
except the graveyard.