This poem was written during the Nigerian civil war. It was also the period of the First Military Coup d’etat and its aftermath. In the poem the poet warns his opponents that their victory and celebration is premature as there are strong major terrible destructions which seem to be eminent. This poem was written during the Nigerian civil war. It was also the period of the First Military coup d’etat and its aftermath. In the poem the poet warns his opponents that their victory and celebration is premature as some strong, terrible major destruction seems to be eminent. He foresees a lurking sinister force threatening to destroy the country totally. He seems to sound a warning when he writes “Now that the laughter, broken in two, hangs tremulous between the--- teeth, and cautions the jubilating victors to “Remember, O dancers, the lightning beyond the earth….” that might strike them when they are least prepared.
The poet-employs a number of images and metaphors such as “thunder”, “lightening”, “blood”, “iron”, “stone”, “night”, “waters” and “death” to warn the impending doom and destruction that Nigeria might face. The rhyme and rhythm gives the poem an original and fresh form.
9.4 SELF- ASSEMENT EXERCISE:
1. What is the poet speaking about in the poem?
2. Pick any three images and metaphors and describe their relevance in the poem.
10.0 TOPIC: THEMATIC AND STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF WOLE SOYINKA’S POEM 10.1 INTRODUCTION:
The thematic and stylistic forms deployed in a poem by Nigeria’s foremost poet Wole Soyinka will considered.
By the end of the lecture you should be able to : i. Discuss the use of tradition in the poem .
ii. Identify the traditional techniques used in the poem.
10.3.1 Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka is one of Black Africa’s most distinguished writers. A foremost dramatist, actor, producer, poet and author of a number of satirical reviews, is also bitter critic of the Nigerian society. A prolific writer he has published fifteen plays and a number of skits. He has also published three volumes of poetry, Idanre andOther Poems, A Shuttle in the Crypt and Ogun Abibima and an anthology Poems of Black Africa. Like Okigbo he too was educated at University College, Ibadan before he left for Leeds.
Soyinka often explores, human themes in his poems through his cultural milieu. He has won many international prizes including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Abiku is both interesting and intriguing. The poet among other thing expresses hi culture consciousness in the poem.
Soyinka’s Abiku seems to enjoy the anguish of the parents who are desperate to make him live. In their desperation they engage the services of various medicine men and diviners who put “bangles” round his ankles, a kind of amulet “In vain”, useless, of no consequence. He enjoys his status as Abiku “I am Abiku, calling for the first / And the repeated time”. In stanza 2 he makes the various rituals they perform to hold him down : the goats they slaughter, the cowries they throw at crossroads, the palm oil they pour and the ashes they sprinkle as part of the ritual. He wonders if they are supposed to evoke his pity, or make him weep. In stanza 3 he taunts the practice of cutting up the bodies of suspected Abiku. He urges them to sharpen their knives “And the repeated time , brand me / Deeply on the breast. When he is reborn they will know him by the marks their knives have left on his body from the cuts they gave him from his early life. He stresses the futility of their efforts “And when you pour Libations, each finger points me near / The way I came,” and reinforces it in the next stanza where he casts himself in the image of a “Suppliant snake coiled on the doorstep” In that context the only option a mother has is “the killing cry.” This means that the desperate efforts of the mother to save her child will ironically amount to killing him. In the last stanza, he states that the older he gets the more devastating is his departure. “The ripest fruit was saddest.” He finds the love the parents show him to be “cloying” – sickeningly annoying. He complains silently while all the time devising how to convert life to death or a grave”… shaping / Mounds from the yolk”. The “Mounds” are the graves or death and “the yolk” is the life giving part of the egg. Abiku here is implacable; no effort of the parents can alter his tragic destiny.
Abiku is the Yoruba word for a child that dies young to be reborn by the same woman over and over again. Soyinka explores the myth and essence of the capricious, elusive and tyrannical qualities of Abiku. . The poem speaks of the uncontrollable cycle of birth end early death, until the two ideas of birth and death unite in the paradox of destruction of life only to beget life. The images are all drawn from Yoruba beliefs and practices about Abiku. The real meaning of the poem cannot be fully understood if one is not conversant with the beliefs and practices of the Yoruba’s. Soyinka’s great quality as a poet is his ability to distance an immediate experience through the selection and deployment of expressive images.
SELF –ASSEMENT EXERCISE :
What seems to be the message abiku has for the unfortunate mothers?
Name and explain four images that indicate death in the poem.
TOPIC: 11 TABLE OF CONTENTS
TOPIC: FORM AND CONTENT IN J. P. CLARK’S POEM- 37
11.1. INTRODUCTION - - - - - - - 38
11.2. OBJECTIVES - - - - - - - 38
11.3. IN-TEXT - - - - - - - - 38
11.3.1. J. P. CLARK - - - - - - - 38
11.3.2. ABIKU - - - - - - - 38
11.3.3. FORM AND CONTENT IN THE POEM - - 39
11.4. SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE - - - - - 39
11.0 TOPIC: FORM AND CONTENT IN J. P. CLARK’S POEM 11.1 INTRODUCTION.
The form and content expressed by J.P. Clark’ poem will be analysed. Clark is another Nigerian poet who has also contributed immensely to the growth of modern African poetry.