Full Summary and Analysis of Augustinho Neto’s “The Grieved Land”

This is a good full summary and analysis of Augustinho Neto’s “The Grieved Land.” This post begins by introducing who Augustinho Neto is and the full details of this his poem, including the background, contents and analytical details. Like most poems of its set, this poem is deeply immersed in the issue of proud blackness and battle against colonialism and its evil.

The Biography of the Poet. Who is Augustinho Neto?

Augustinho Neto was the first President of Angola. He was born in 1922. Before he became the president and a successful poet, he was a vital member or vital part of fight for the liberation of Angola. Angola didn’t get her independence on a platter of gold or through an easy way; it was a hard fought war of independence. His opinions about colonization and his experiences of fighting the war for freedom are part of what led to the creativity birthing his poetry.

Angola was colonized by Portugal. In the lead up to the independence, Portugal wasn’t that ready to let go, and so highly placed Angolans and the youth had to fight to achieve independence. Neto wrote most of his poems between 1946 and 1960. He served as the President of Angola between 1975 – 1979. He died in 1979 largely remembered for his poems than his stint as his country’s president.

Full Summary and Analysis of Augustinho Neto’s “The Grieved Land”

This poem’s major preoccupation is the extent by which Africa was subdued, colonized, destroyed and plundered by the colonizers. This is the reason why Africa is constantly being referred metaphorically as “the grieved land.” The continent is so destroyed and plundered that it grieves and continues to grieve.

In the first stanza, the poet makes allusion to the issue of slavery where Africa’s population is attacked and some are carted away to slavery. There’s mention of “seas” denoting how these slaves were carried across the oceans and seas in order to have them enslaved. Apart from slavery, the land is traumatized with the imagery depicted by the persona as “crushed forest,” “goalers’ keys,” “corpses thrown up by the Atlantic” and more as how hard Africa grieves.

It is pertinent you note that Africans were treated badly as slaves and even as colonized individuals on their continent. Majority of African slaves died aboard the ship to the new countries. The Africans, who were colonized, had little or no say whatsoever about the rule of the colonizers and were mainly maltreated and subjugated.

Even though Africans would want to live a free life devoid of the pain of the past, and forging of a new path, it doesn’t quite work out as the past plays a good role on the present. What this means is that the land continues to grieve. The effects of slavery, colonialism and subjugation of the land and the Africans would continue to be a haunting image and form of setbacks for the continent.

The poem is in seven stanzas and 41 lines.

Themes in the Poem

  • Exploitation of Africa: Africa was heavily exploited by other continents who had stronger force and institutions. Right from the time of intercontinental trade to the time of slavery to the time of colonialism to the time of neo-colonialism, Africa has always been exploited. This Neto’s poem focuses mainly on this issue as the state of disrepair of Africa is revealed.
  • Effects of Colonialism: Africa was partitioned and shared among the colonial powers in the Berlin Conference. This partitioning and sharing of the continent was done without the consultation and involvement of Africans. Thus, colonialism had large negative effects because it wasn’t done to improve the lives of Africans naturally. Rather, it was done to improve the economic situation of Europe.
  • The Evils of Slave Trade/Slavery: This is explored mainly by the persona as he recounts the issue and process of slave trade/slavery in Africa and to Africans. This issue led to the under-population of Africa at some certain points and the destabilization of the indigenous African economy. While humans are plundered during slavery, resources are plundered during colonialism leading to Africa grieving.

Poetic Devices/Figures of Sound in Full Summary and Analysis of Augustinho Neto’s “The Grieved Land”

  • Alliteration: “… baobabs … balances” – (line 20); “… victorious voice” – (line 14) and “… simple … stars” (line 35).
  • Repetition: Some words and expressions are repeated in the poem for the emphasis of the subject matter like “the grieved land of Africa,” “men” and “dream.”
  • Symbolism/Imagery: “… the flower crushed in the forest” symbolizes the economic performing and growing Africa crushed by the colonialists and invaders. Then through vivid imagery, the persona is able to depict to what level Africa is plundered and made to grieve.

Diction/Language Use

The persona uses mostly easy and understand words.


The tone and mood of the poem is that of pain and anguish as the persona writes about the “grieved land” of Africa.

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