1. Check your dictionary to find the meaning of these words from the poem: fierce, fists, paws, searching, prodding.
2. Read the poem. In the second verse, the poet writes: ‘ I’ve not been touched for the past 7 years’ . Where do you think he has been for the past 7 years: in hospital, in a war, in prison? Justify your answer with lines from the poem.
3. Look at the different forms of the word ‘touch’ in the poem: touch(ed), untouched, out of touch, untouchable. How do these words relate to the themes of the poem?
4. Compare these 2 lines, which appear in the middle of the poem: ‘Don’t touch me/ Please don’t touch me’ with the last line of the poem: ‘Please touch me.’ The first 2 lines seem to be contradicting the last line. Why do you think this is so?
5. The poet Hugh Lewin spent 7 years (1964 – 1971) in prison in South Africa for sabotage activities against the apartheid state. During this time he secretly wrote about his experiences and in 2002 these original writings (including poems and original illustrations) were published in a book called Bandiet Out of Jail ISBN 0958446814 (Random House SA) The author has written: ‘It was only as a prisoner – as a bandiet in a South African jail – that I could begin to realise what life is like for most South Africans. I am white. I had to go inside to know what it is like to be black.’ You can have more information about the history of apartheid and see how the author’s expeience in the poem relate to what happened in South Africa during this period by looking at these websites: