Song – George Szirtes

Song is a poem dedicated to Helen Suzman, a liberal South African who was an anti-apartheid activist and politician. This poem is all about how changes can be made when people stand in unity and protest for what is right.

Themes –

  • Future: The poem inspires hope for the future, it is all about standing in unity and helping, ‘however small the hand’, to fight for what is right. People just need to work together in order to make a change in the world for a better future.
  • Power: ‘Song’ also looks at the power and ‘weight’ other people hold over those that are seen as inferior. People are forced to stay ‘hushed’ by those ‘that they oppose’.


Tone of the poem –

  • There is a very hopeful and inspiring tone to the poem as it starts off showing us that ‘nothing happens’ if people stay ‘hushed’, however the moment people have ‘a place to stand’ and have the support of one another is when ‘something does’ change for the better.
  • Inspires people to stand up for their rights and what they believe in, it is about working together to fight for what is right.


Structure –

  • The poem is set out like a ‘song’ with a running rhythm throughout. The first 2 and the last 2 stanzas act as a chorus and a before and after contrast, hence they are in italics. A song is something that is memorable, can be passed on by word of mouth and allows everyone to join in, therefore showing us that if we all spread awareness and take part, we can make a change.
  • There is also a full stop at the end of the last stanza. This little change in the stanza is a representation of how the little changes that people make can have a huge impact.


Techniques –

  • Szirtes uses enjambment in the poem to maybe represent the fact that the issues of the past will carry on into the future unless people stand together and make a change.
  • There is also a juxtaposition used in the line ‘small hands in a monstrous hall’, this is a presentation of how ‘small’ and powerless these people feel against their ‘monstrous’ opposition. Shows how people feel that they cannot win, the battle is too big.
  • There is also imagery used in the 5th stanza of these people join together to ‘fill the hall’ and rise up together. This image of unity and a community of people standing strong together.


Important quotes –

‘the broken voices of the hushed.’

This quote tells us that these people have had their spirit and ‘voices’ taken away from them and destroyed, they have been forced to stay ‘hushed’. However this poem ends by telling us that once they power through this oppression, they gain power over their lives and can make a positive change for their future.


‘however small the hand’

People may not feel that their support will make a difference, however part of standing as a team is taking part and standing up one by one. Even the smallest thing can make the biggest difference.


‘even the Earth can be made to move’








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