Dramatisation in Poetry - English Poetry Notes

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Introduction by Richard Ntiru

Perhaps it was his ugly shirt
The missing button
The unassertive collar;
Perhaps it was his knotty hair
That boasted little acquaintance with the comb
Or maybe it was his usualness
--one more impersonal handshake
Along the constant street—
That induced the functional smile
And operated the mechanical handshake.
His name didn’t help either;
Mugambo Mugenge—you’d hear the name
In the out-patient’s attendance queue;
Not in the current telephone directory

You certainly needed prompting
I said he was an old-time friend
But you continued to wave to passing cars;
I added that he was a high placed man
And you promptly too you cue
--“A university teacher, author of several works”—
“RE-E-E-ally? Er-um-oh...”
And you became word and emotional perfect
Like a dog that mistakes a thief for a visitor
And remembers to bark at his mater’s coughing,
You renewed and pumped the handshake
--reshaped your mouth to a proper smile
--recalled his famous public talk
That you had regretfully missed...
And observed, thoughtfully,
How unlike his photograph he looked

You were tuned—
Delved deep into his latest novel
And wondered why his main characters
Do not walk on the solid earth
And fail to effect living communication
You’d have rambled on, no longer looking at him
But he quipped: “They are in good company!”
And was about to add when you knowledgeably interrupted
“Society is a market stall
And men goods on display
Where the label is more important than the labelled
And price more fascinating than the value.”
We parted hoping to meet again
You went away rehearsing his name
But probably unremembering his face


How would you say the following lines?

  1. Perhaps it was his ugly shirt.
  2. Perhaps it was his knotty hair.
  3. That induced a functional smile.
  4. But you continued to wave to passing cars.
  5. But probably unremembering his face
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