Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow. (20 marks)

The inmates

Huddled together

Cold biting their bones

Teeth chattering from the chill,

The air oppressive,

The smell offensive

They sit and they reflect


The room self contained

At the corner the ‘gents’ invites

With the nice fragrance of ammonia,

And fresh human dung,

The fresh inmates sit thoughtfully


Vermin perform a guard of honour

Saluting him with a bite here

And a bite there

‘Welcome to the world, they seem to say’

The steel lock of the door

The walls insurmountable

And the one torching tortuous bulb

Stare vacantly at him

Slowly he reflects about the consignment

That gave birth to his confinement

Locked in for conduct refinement

The reason they put him in prison


The clock ticks

But too slowly

Five years will be a long time

Doomed in the dungeon

In this hell of a cell


  1. Who is the persona in the poem?                         (1 mark)
  2. Briefly explain what the poem is about.                                     (2 marks)
  3. Identify and illustrate three aspects of style in the poem.                                                                             (6 marks)
  4. Give evidence from the poem which indicates the inmates are suffering.                               (3 marks)
  5. Why is the fresh inmate in prison?                                                                                                         (2 marks)
  6. Identify and explain the mood of the new convict.                         (2 marks)
  7. Explain the meaning of the following lines as used in the poem.
  8. That gave birth to his confinement                                                                                                 (1 mark)
  9. The room is self contained                                                                                                  (1 mark)
  10. What does the steel lock in the door and the insurmountable walls suggest?                                        (2 marks)
HOD Academics Changed status to publish November 22, 2021