Considering “The Flea” and “To his Coy Mistress” as Metaphysical Poems: Chiedozie Ude

Chiedozie Ude
Department of English, UNILAG

😈

“The Flea” and “To his Coy Mistress” are two very similar poems. This similarity is exposed by the fact that they are, by form and content, metaphysical poems. The metaphysical tradition is one which discusses issues on religion or love in a philosophical way, usually through the use of specific poetic devices like conceits and hyperboles. It is based on the witty and philosophical manner in which Donne and Marvell treat their subjects that will constitute the focus of this analysis.

John Donne’s “The Flea” can be regarded as a typical metaphysical poem. This is brought to the fore through a lot of factors. One of such factors is Donne’s use of a passionate persona who does all in his power to woo his mistress into having sexual relations with him. The persona makes use of witty arguments in order to convince his lady to cave in to his demands. To buttress his point, the persona makes a very unlikely comparison, using an insect — a flea. He compares the act of blood-sucking done by the flea to the consummation of a union through sexual intercourse— “And in this flea, our two blood mingled be”. This unlikely comparison is a device known as conceit. Also, it is expected of the lady to rebuff the persona’s act of seduction.

Likewise in Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress”, the employment of a passionate lover as the poet persona also stands out. Marvell’s persona also employs wit in his bid to seduce his lady. He presents an imaginary situation whereby time is not a factor. The persona uses a series of hyperboles to educate the lady on the extent he can go to show his love for her if only time was nonexistent:

“An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.”

He informs his lady that he can afford to be patient if he had enough time, but because this is unlikely, he impatiently tries to convince the lady to use the opportunity presented by youth to have sex with him. Undoubtedly, the passionate stance of Marvell’s persona towards is lover reinforces the metaphysical origin of this poem.

Another thing that is noteworthy in these poems is the recurring motif of courtly love. Courtly love is one which requires a man to attempt wooing a lady. It is because of this convention of courtly love that we are presented with a passionate persona who does his best possible in order to convince a lady of his love for her. Thus, it comes as no surprise that both personae in the poems are presented as desperate men who use various tricks to aid the seduction of their mistresses. Both personae are philosophical in their approach. While Donne makes use of conceit, Marvell uses the shortness of time to strengthen his argument for the consummation of their union. On the other hand, the lady, the object of the persona’s affection, is expected to be unreceptive towards his advances.

Furthermore, metaphysical poetry is also marked through the argumentative style. Some times, this argument is in the form of a dialogue between a man and his mistress; but other times, it is in the form of a monologue. Marvell’s and Donne’s poems fall into the later category. Both poets craftily deploy their wits by citing various reasons why their ladies should submit to their demands. Donne presents his argument by using a flea who sucks blood from his mistress without having to go through the stress of winning her affection. To Donne, this act done by the flea is as inconsequential as the act of losing one’s virginity as a lady. So, Donne argues that the lady should be more accepting to his amorous desires. Similarly, Marvell presents his argument adroit fashion. He informs the lady of how time is an enemy of youth and beauty. He follows a pattern by first establishing what could be achieved if time was on their side. He then moves on by declaring that time cannot be defeated; thus, proving to his mistress thst the only logical thing to do is to seize the day — Carpe Diem.

To be continued….

A Song For Greatness Gone: In Memory of Christopher Okigbo: Chiedozie Ude

By Chiedozie Ude (May 21, 2020)

Dedicated to Oyinma, a lover of everything African.

Goodbye to a great genius
Who has crossed heaven’s gate,
A sufferer of the warrior’s fate
A destiny that is heinous.

Why did you have to fight that war?
Did not Ojukwu have other men
To prevent you from the lion’s den?
Or were you born to war adore?

Biafra cries as it mumbles your name,
Lamenting the great works lost
In your battle lust
The Biafran dream also burned with your flame.

For your daring, we have a tomb,
For bravery, a martyrdom,
The price you paid for freedom —
A facade of doom.

You sought the paths of thunder
In return you found man-made brontide,
Weapons which the Soviets supplied,
Now, you get to rest under.

Mother Idoto mourns her child,
Her watery presence is reinforced by her tears,
Grievous sounds enough to raise one’s hairs
For a prodigal who has forever been exiled.

Who now shall tell of your legend,
Beautiful river goddess?
Shall we also witness
The coming of your end?

On Nsukka’s hell grounds
There fell Okigbo Christopher,
Defending his ideals on anarchy’s altar,
A ram for the gods of the battlegrounds.

Wild you were in your creativity,
Unrestricted by colonial subjugation,
You rose to international acclamation,
A man with artistic proclivity.

Brief was your stay,
No sooner here than the other side,
An eternity where you must now abide,
Leaving only a piece of your intellect for display.

Your star departed when it was brightest,
Twinkling into the great beyond
Never again to respond
To the cock’s siren, even at its highest.

Dee Christopher, martyred for the Biafran cause
An ideal you dearly held
One which was mercilessly shelled
By the enemy’s airforce.

This hour stand I enchanted,
Overwhelmed in the labyrinths of your astuteness,
Which, by far, surpasses the ocean’s saltiness,
Wisdom which Mother Idoto granted.

As Time Flies

By Chiedozie Ude (May 20, 2017)

This is an old writeup. I hope it entertains you.

Like they all say, time waits for no one.

Today, instead of discussing religion or politics, I have decided to go back in time and narrate an incident which at first I did not find funny.

The year was 2013 and our SSCE results were out. I decided to go to Ilasa to see my friends. I had this friend called Dare Oke, a plump boy who seemed to roll instead of walking(we are still in touch). He, alongside I, decided to visit some girls (sisters) which I’ll call X and Y.

Being parochial, we hatched a plan to tell their mother that we had forgotten our WAEC registration number and we think that her daughters would help us remember them. Back then, this sounded like a master plan for we were sure that X and Y’s extremely smart mother will not suspect that we had other motives. The plan looked perfect; it was time to visit some ladies.

When we got to the house of X and Y, we could not garner the courage to knock at their door; so, we spent almost 30minutes rehearsing our speech, removing the parts we felt were wanton and also trying to embellish our speech with a plethora of high-sounding words because we knew that their mother was a tough one. We had to appear saintly.

At last we summoned courage and knocked, a maid opened the door and guess what?? We met them (the whole family) eating dinner. X and Y looked at us, really astonished that we had defied reason and common sense to visit them for we all knew quite well that their mother was a tyrant

The look we got from the mum could have frozen hell. In fact, I saw her eyes glint with danger. My heart melted. Maybe we were wrong to visit. We were in for it.

After dinner, their mum stood up and walked majestically across the room with the sure-footedness of an alpha wolf marking its territory. She was the embodiment of affluence, and also had this aura of charisma. To aptly describe her, she is the modern-day Madea in terms of sheer size.

God, she was huge! I don’t know why but for the first time I felt small, really tiny, and my nerve left me. I forgot all that we planned to say as the reason for our visit. In fact, the only thing that was still keeping me there was the fact that the doors were locked. Immediately she asked the first question which was “Why are you here?” I quickly blurted out that I was just escorting Dare, and in fact, I had no business there. Who WAEC registration number help?

😃😀😃

Time flies, I wish I could meet that mum again, let her see a Dozie void of fear, an alpha male.

BROKEN

By Dreary_Queen

What do you do when the one your trust shatters you?

For a few minutes, I was at a loss of words,
Not due to surprise or lethologica,
Because it eventually happened:
Reality finally struck!

With pain, I watched everything crumble
In a different picture, I saw the one I have blindly grown so fond of
Looking at me with a face full of scorn and hate,
Never have I felt so broken.

What happened to those days
When you’d come home with a smile on your face?
What happened to those words
Full of love and warmth?

Now, I wonder
If this was the same man I fell in love with.
All along, it had been a fantasy
With a hard hit, you brought me to reality.

Times like this, I just want to crawl into a hole
Create as many scars as possible,
Close my eyes and hopefully disappear.
Open them again to try closing them forever

At this point, nothing seems worthy
Not even I to myself
The same you who made me love myself
Got me hating my skin, even to irritation.

Trust me, I should have known better
But then, it took just five words
To make me yearn for you and all of you
“Let me make you better.”

For the times you tried making me better
For the times I had the invisible blindfold
You got to know the deepest of my weaknesses
Then half a year later, use them against me

Never have I had this sudden urge to leave
But in this situation, I need it badly
I want to be the girl I was before
But I’m not sure I’d be that girl or the obsolete creature

I succeeded in breaking free physically
Emotionally, not so much luck
Even though I knew you were on the run for me
I tried my possible best not to slow down

Like the prodigal son, I saw myself
Walking into my father’s house
Memories of my last time here hitting me hard
The look of disappointment on Joe’s face came like a flash

I thought of turning back
But I had nowhere to go
With my feet on the doormat
I opened myself to yet another trauma

I expected Pops to chase me out
All I got was a blank stare
I thought my lil sis would run into my arms
But it seemed like she had no idea who I was

I had no idea which one hurts the more
The people I’ve spent two decades of my life with
Looking at me like a stranger stormed into their home
Or my so-called Prince Charming being Lucifer in disguise

It’s hard letting go of the memories
It’s hard trying to act numb
When I try numbing the pain, it comes back worse:
I suck!

Then I look around me
I have friends but do they really care?
I have a family but they don’t know
I am not that ray of sunshine anymore

Pops warmed up to me
Tried his best to make me feel like his babe
Joe seems to have noticed me now
Hanging around to make sure I don’t do anything silly

The vibes I give is just to make them happy
At this point, my happiness does not matter
Not anymore
Nor ever, I guess

With these familiar people surrounding me
I have this yearn to rise and dance
But nothing comes easy
I guess to love again won’t come easy

“This too shall pass”
I heard it somewhere
I really want to believe it
So I will.

“A part of me” by Providence_Wright

Come to the Zenith.
No! To the right.
The left is not a myth.
Oh, down below is right.

Oh let me be,
I’ll make my choice
If need be,
Only one thing is vital – my voice.

An inch of my skin,
A gravel to my teeth,
Why not let it be my next of kin?
Precious, yes, but dangerous underneath.

A part of me,
My attention you seek.
Deserve thou the key
To all my possession thou seek?

I repeat,
Hear me out oh ye people,
All your thoughts of me delete,
Until I myself settle.

Oh let me be,
I’ll make my choice
If need be,
Only one thing is vital – my voice.

History: The Past Pandemic in Nigeria.

©Chukwuma K.

I’m fortunate to have both of my grand parents alive. I’ve spent the past weeks with them and I have a story to share with you.

My grand parents told me about the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu)- caused by a virulent type A virus. It is documented that about 21 million people died from the disease over a 12-month period, and perhaps 200 million at the end of the pandemic.

Grandma said it was called “OKORU OGBUE”. A centralized Igbo name would be “OFEE OGBUO”. The name implied that the disease was very contagious and that infected individuals most often died from the disease.

The disease was introduced into Nigeria by passengers and crews who arrived overseas through ships. Within months it was all over the place- every community in Nigeria. Anecdotal reports from my grandparents and others showed that every community lost between 50-80% of its inhabitants.

Documented reports, though, showed that about 500,000 Nigerians, out of a population of then 18 million, died in less than 6 months, and between 50 and 80% of the population was stricken. Undoubtedly, majority of the cases especially in villages were not reported.

On September 14th, 1918, a ship, S.S. Bida, arrived in Lagos, Nigeria. Some of the passengers were suffering from the influenza. They had boarded the ship in Accra, and on arrival in Lagos, passed on the disease to Lagosians.

The first cases were documented on 23rd September and a few days later the disease spread inland through the railway, appearing in Abeokuta on 1st October and Ibadan on the 5th of the same year.

On 14th October, the disease was brought to Onitsha from Lokoja and in a week or two the entire town and villages in the Onitsha province were thoroughly attacked.

From Onitsha, the epidemic spread to Asaba and all the towns of Western Igboland, causing much panic and consternation.

A report of the Roman Catholic Mission at Asaba stated that the people of Asaba, disturbed by the rumor that influenza was causing havoc, gathered each morning at the Post Office, expecting to hear from relatives who had emigrated to affected places in search of wage labor. One morning, while a large crowd assembled at the Post Office, news arrived that influenza had broken out in Asaba itself and everyone ran home to isolate, the crowd was dispersed. In a few days, Asaba was thrown into mourning as virtually every family had someone to bury.

From Asaba, the influenza spread to Agbor, appearing there on 19th October.

Also from Onitsha the epidemic spread eastward, appearing at Owerri on 25th October, Okigwe and Enugu-Ngwo on the 28th and Aba on the 30th.
Furthermore, the epidemic, having affected the towns on the Eastern Railway, began to diffuse eastward, appearing at Ikot-Ekpene on or about 1st November, Obubra on the 4th, Afikpo on the 5th, Abakaliki on the 7th, Ogoja on the 11th, Obudu about the 11th and Ikom on the 13th.

Every family had someone to bury. Grandma said: “After returning from a burial, all those who buried the dead were required to remove their clothes and burn them before coming into their homes….. But in a few days, they too will get the flu and would die….. When someone die, people cried not because the person died, but because others in the family will die after the burial and so on”.

Traditional medicine men and women died after treating a sick person. Non of the remedies seemed to have worked. But when our grandparents learned that isolation and quarantine was the remedy, the disease was contained.

It was like a war. None of our grandparents went to the markets or farms, because no one does that during a war. They starved, they didn’t visit relatives, they ate cassavas and cassava leaves, they improvised, the government DID NOT provide palliatives, they too, DID NOT EXPECT the government to provide palliatives. They passed through the pain of watching their dead rot away without a burial, only then was the virus contained in 1919- one year after!

Today we have another major pandemic, very, very similar to that of 1918. We know better today, we are more enlightened, we have developed medical sciences. We know that our government SHOULD provide palliatives, but if because of corruption they REFUSE, we should borrow a leaf from our grandparents. Let’s pull through.

You see, the rich and famous brought the virus always, but the poor are more vulnerable and will be hit the worse, because the rich will stay at home and the poor will go out to be killed by the virus or shot by the reckless officers. But whether this pandemic will last less than a year, a year, or more than a year depends on us.

This is like a war. Stay at home to save lives. Obey the Government.

Most importantly, you see those who do not believe that the virus exist, and those who think there should be no lockdown, avoid them because even our uneducated grandparents were wiser than they are.

Reference:
Ohadike D. C. (1991): Diffusion and Physiological Responses to the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 in Nigeria. Soc Sci Med. 1991;32 (12):1393-9

©Chukwuma K. April 25, 2020

A TRAVEL BACK by Alexiz

And to you my forgotten
I am fourteen hours away from you
Where every chapter reminds me of my unread pages
A season of discoveries in truth

I will soon reunite with you
Like age on youth
My heart is filled with joy my forgotten
For I am ten hours away from you

This is where it all began
The climax of my fall
The seed of reckless demands
I journeyed into growth and slavery
Storm and nice dreams
Just to reunite with you.

I am now six hours from you
Believe me when I say;
Like the dead and the grave
I will assuredly unite with you

For I have gone through blows and tempest
I have destroyed my love for harvest
Just to reunite with you
For certainly I will

For I am now two hours from you.
But this time is too small to unite with you
I’d rather start this journey again
Hasten my steps so I could have a year saved.

So my forgotten
Be patient with the process
For I am neither an angel nor the sun
I have no super power but my song
I could sing you into trances of my conquered kingdoms
Then you could see all I’ve done
To reunite with you my forgotten.

THE TEMPLE OF SURVIVORS

Advancing my academic climax
I always felt it was as easy as it flowed from my mouth.
With my infant knowledge I felt I knew it all.

I conquered all barriers set before me.
I felt like an encyclopedia of knowledge.
I anxiously anticipated taking on any challenger.
I felt fortified, I felt divine.

Soon I ascended the temple of survivors.
I wasn’t alone as I shared a similar fate with others.
The guardians welcomed us and spake to me in proverbs saying:
“Excuse may not mean Excuse.
Convict may not mean Convict.
Many have come this far.
There’s no going back.
You’ll survive, most definitely.”

The capital letter U and small letter u are similar but different.
Butter has two of the letter T.
Neither must be pronounced to honour the schwa.
An absent dot after “A Boy” renders it invalid.
Air systems are studied to forge sounds of harmony.
I took these to heart and proceeded.

After advancing in my quest; The guardians spoke again:
“Learn new proverbs and discard the ones learnt earlier like we never said them.”
Humbled by these words,
I withdrew from my high horse and thought to myself.
No wonder the guardians sang:

“We’ve all come this far.
There’s no going back.
You’ll survive, most definitely.”


Well to my fellow travelers this will be our song as survivors:
“We’ve all come this far.
There’s no going back.
We’ll survive, most definitely.”

© Sammie
2020

“A KILLER’S SPEECH “by OBISANWO, Oladipupo.

Kudos to my ancestors
Who had imbibed severity
Into my very personality.
Thus, with exceeding alacrity
I exercise my authority
Over all constituted sovereignty.

Only with a temporal appearance
On their sickly abuttal,
I showed humans their faces
In the leveler mirror.
By the might of my hands,
I pricked their puffed esteem.

I am a one man terrorist,
Daily updating my list.
Though I am not the giver of life,
I am a greedy taker.
I busy them with the rising figures
While I ravage their sickly figures.

Their glory shrink in fear
For my scorching scourge.
They try every measure
Yet they live under pressure.
I make their treasures worthless;
And their esteem worthless.

I have won my place
In the pantheon of the deadly.
I suck them dry
And cry the winning cry
Day after day
They are left with the killing cry.

Howbeit, I concede that I am as
A wild dog taken on a walk;
So I devour whatever comes my path
Knowing full well that
The offer is amply valid
Only while the stock lasts.

The Boys Who Dangled Their Phalluses

UDE, Chiedozie Orji.

Really?

I find it difficult to write fiction and this explains why my little forays into storytelling revolves around a past experience in my life. Today is not an exception because I want to tell you all a story. A story that has no regard for morals. A story of the absurd, by the absurd and for the absurd. A story about a plethora of phalluses, little ones. Do read carefully.

The time I spent in Junior Secondary School was a feisty period of my life. It was a time when I was beginning to come of age; a time of puberty. It was a time when I learnt that one’s penis was not meant to serve only as a pissing tool.

I was in JS2 and I was one confused preteenager. I could not explain why the little man decided to stretch out its limbs when I saw or heard the slightest erotic thing. However, this problem became explicable during Integrated Science class. I never really loved anything science based but the topic of the day was one that would fill my holy head with a lot of images; pictures about copulation. I was not much interested in boobs because all the girls in my age grade were yet to develop them, but the topic of the day drew my attention to everything worth paying attention to. The topic was reproduction.

Mr. Paul, our handsome tall teacher who was rumoured to be in an illicit affair with a girl in JS3, seemed to be enjoying himself. He graphically explained to us the concept of an erection, how the penis uncurled itself and stood gallantly, like a proud soldier hoisting the flag of his country, as it sought its way into a woman’s vagina. He revelled in the discomfort our small and innocent faces must have emanated, for we were all trying to look saintly; after all, we were all good children.

Mr Paul ended the class rather abruptly, for he did not completely tell us what an ejaculation was. I was curious, what did an ejaculation feel like? How would one know when one was about to ejaculate? Nonso speculated that the feeling must be similar to what one felt after one was able to urinate after holding up the urine for hours in one’s bladder, and we could not help but to agree with his masterful logic for Nonso was known for his intellectual dexterity.

Having satisfied our curiosity on what ejaculation felt like, we moved to the ejaculator itself. Comparing penis sizes became our next sport. Funnily enough, this new game was to spread like wild fire because many a boy decided to dangle his phallus like it was some award-winning object, maybe it was. It was a time of separating the wheat from tares; a time of “MACHOrity”.

So, showcasing our lower region to fellow boys became a habit. We would occupy a part of the class that was devoid of girls to practice our newly-found proclivity. We had no homosexual tendencies; we were just kids who were revelling in our latest invention — penis exhibition. In terms of size, none of us had much back then. In fact, the only person to have pubic hairs was a boy named Jerry. Jerry was older than most of us, and his age showed. He was the only one whose phallus filled his palms. The rest of us could simply use two fingers to pick ours. Because Jerry was the biggest amongst us, he had the envy of all the boys, he basked in his moments of stardom for it was the only time he had ever come first in anything.

Of course, there is always a comeuppance for stupid acts and the phallus danglers were about to be sold out. It happened on the last day of the term, that fateful sunny day. Jerry was becoming too big for his boots, behaving as if he was the only endowed teenager in the world (the posturing peacock of a boy). To say the truth, he was getting on my nerves, and I still know till this day that my anger was not based on the fact that he was bigger, even though he thought so (the bloody idiot!). Jerry was to make that costly mistake that would destroy the phallus danglers.

That day, I decided to stay away from the clique and that was the day Jerry showed his lice-infested stuff for a last time. He probably wanted to make a lasting impression on everyone before the holidays. Unfortunately, Taiwo, a tell-tale of a boy, saw him and reported to the authorities. This was the beginning of a long and rigorous process of fishing out other participants. Jerry was not going down alone, the bloody coward.

Names were mentioned and boys were implicated. Yours truly was among the names that were released. Gently, yours truly picked up his bag and gently walked out in the confusion, for there was an uproar and students were everywhere. When I got outside the gates, I ran faster than I had ever done before; in fact, it will be an understatement to say that I ran faster than the speed of light.

Up till today, I still take pride in the fact that I escaped a beating despite being among the pioneers who invented the sport of dangling phalluses. In addition, whenever you see boys clustered in a particular place, you may want to believe that they are comparing penis sizes. Also, it is important for me to point out here that I still do not know what an ejaculation feels like, really?

Literary blog. Critical analysis of texts. Everything literature.

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