Nobody Ever Said AIDS Title: Nobody Ever Said AIDS I predict this poem will be about someone who learns that a friend or family member has died of AIDS. I think that the speaker of the poem didn’t realize the person who died had AIDS because that person never talked about it or was in denial of it.
Nobody Ever Said AIDS Paraphrase Speaker remembers a carefree life of dancing and partying with his friends. Then came AIDS. AIDS became something to fear. His friends got skinny and died of TB. The speaker questions what they really died of. Then the speaker gets skinny and ill. Everybody eventually dies of “TB.”
Connotation Kaffir- a derogatory term for a black person. It is similar to the “N” word in in America. “No Kaffir’s here” – we are not “trash” or low life’s- we are proud, good men. Shebeen – An illegal bar or club where they don’t have a license to sell alcohol. Sometimes they sell home brew. In South Africa and Zimbabwe, shebeens are most often
located in black townships as an alternative to pubs and bars, where under apartheid black Africans could not enter a pub or bar reserved for whites. Black Label – brand of beer Boer face – Africaans and Dutch word for farmer. There was a war between the
Dutch settlers and the Africans in the 1800’s. Thus, a “Boer face” means an enemy. Simile- “And skinny like broomsticks” They lose weight and become quite ill. “The children were born dying” Mothers with AIDS gave birth to children with AIDS, who will certainly die.
Simile- “Eating us like worms” Worms feast on the dead, the decomposing. He is saying that they are still alive, but so sick they are like the dead. Simile “Those who used to sing like superstars” They who used to be healthy and happy. “Whispering it at funerals / Because nobody ever said AIDS” – no one says it out loud. Repetition – “That was me.” He was cocky – full of himself, unaware of the dangers.
Repetition – “TB” He is pointing out the denial. Allusion – Freddie Mercury
Attitude I think the speaker’s attitude is one of sadness, despair, and regret. The speaker remembers his old life with fondness. He uses the word “whisper” out of frustration because AIDS is like a secret – something no one talks about.
I think the poet’s attitude is a little different. I think the poet wrote this poem to express frustration with the system. He is saying it is time to talk about AIDS and not hide it. He is trying to expose the fact that ignoring the issue will eventually kill everyone in Africa.
Shift I see a shift in the poem when the speaker talks with fondness of his old life (dancing and laughing). This part of the poem is reminiscent. That’s when the thing to fear was the police. Then his friends become sick and the poem becomes filled with sadness and fear. Now you had to be fearful of love and getting sick.
Title (again) Nobody Ever Said AIDS – Now the title seems a little more like the poet’s voice is speaking it. It seems to be mildly sarcastic (Ironic?) and seems to call for people to stop living in ignorance because the disease will kill you if you ignore it.
Theme Again, I think the theme of the poem is to stop living in ignorance. AIDS will kill everyone in Africa if Africans continue to live in denial.
Image taken from http://blog.ted.com/images/0012_aids_450x338.jpg