Nigeria, country blessed with wealth But many people there do dwell In squalor, lack and ill in health As government claims to change propel. By strife and greed her seams were slit To serve those who must riches gain, Few men who morals did omit With ruthless hands these things they drain. The tribes around the Niger spread With hatred each the next does view From east to west and north ahead All plotting bloody change through coup. So let us mourn our crumbling home That sinks in deep and dreary foam.
This is the intellectual property of UDE, Chiedozie. This poem should not be copied or printed in any form without the writer’s permission.
“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.
The poem “Love’s Deity’ is, indeed, another work of literature which possesses a huge degree of mimeticism. This implies that this poem is one which projects several key issues that are peculiar to everyday life. These issues, no doubt, make the poem one that can be defined based on the extent to which it imitates life. The poem captures the plight of the persona who finds himself in an uncomfortable situation of unrequited love — that is, he is in love with a girl who does not share his feelings and affections. Through this knowledge, it comes as no surprise that the persona either knowingly or unknowingly raises several issues which serve to explain not just his predicament, but also, the predicament of others who find themselves in love. Therefore, it can be said that the poem “Love’s Deity” captures themes which include: the theme of love; the theme of fate; the theme of defiance; the theme of callousness of the gods; and the theme of man’s belief in the supernatural amongst others.
The theme of love is obviously central to this poem. This is because it is the very reason for the persona’s struggle. He, the persona, just like many others, finds himself in a situation whereby his love is not being reciprocated by the object of his affection. The subject of love is a universal concept which has always complicated matters or made people happy. Hence, it can be said without any form of doubt that the theme of love, as projected by the persona, reflects the society.
Another theme which helps to project reality is the theme of fate. This theme is captured through the persona’s insistence that he has been given a part to follow by the childish god of love; hence, he has no choice but to follow this part — that is, the part of loving someone who will never love him. This theme, also, is in tandem with the classical notion of unavoidable destiny; little wonder the persona accepts his fate by constantly stating in the refrain that he loves a person who will never love him. This theme, definitely, projects realism through the insight provided on the persona’s condition and of course, through the similarities it shares with the classical notion of unchangeable destiny.
Closely related to the theme of fate is the theme of man’s belief in the supernatural. Man, as an individual, is one who believes in the existence of superior beings such as gods, demons and angels etc. It is, therefore, because of man’s belief in these elements and in the power they possess over man that makes man to always acknowledge them through praises when things are going well, and of course, blame them when things are not going well. This theme is well captured in the poem in that the persona believes that the god of love is the cause of his predicament, even without any clear evidence. The persona does not believe the fault may be from him, probably in terms of affluence or physical attractiveness; hence, he seems it worthy to blame not only the god of love but also, the gods who created the god of love. The presence of these supernatural beings is also exposed in the third stanza where the persona suggests that if the god of love is allowed to continue acting with impunity, other gods will likely follow suit, and by so doing, these gods will challenge Jove’s supremacy.
Of course, another theme which depicts realism is the theme of man’s defiance towards elements of the supernatural. The persona describes himself as a rebel and atheist. These words imply that he does not have much regard for religion and the gods, and he acts out these descriptions by insultingly calling the god of love a child. He continues to show his defiance towards authority by suggesting that the gods who created the god of love did not mean much. This suggestion implies that the gods are incapable and restricted when it comes to handling critical affairs. Finally, the persona brands the god of love as irresponsible. This, unequivocally, speaks of the persona’s blatant disregard for superior authority. Obviously, this theme is a universal concept because many a man, from time immemorial, has always been blasphemous towards the supernatural beings.
In conclusion, this essay has discussed the poem “Love’s Deity” based on the extent to which it imitates life. Several themes were raised and succinctly discussed with a view to proving that John Donne’s “Love’s Deity” is a poem that has a lot of verisimilitude with life.
I am a toxicon. I made a rash decision coming. I have caused a rash on your skin.
I have levelled grounds. I have made fame worthless. I have toyed with the rich. I shouldn’t have taken the poor, But I made a bargain.
I made friends with death. I became the cheerleader of sicknesses. I drew to myself pictures of flu. If you’re reading this, I didn’t come to you.
I had no choice of my own. I had to do as agreed. I received coins from Hades. And made an enmity with Zeus. I know the world hates me. I know I can’t be forgiven. Neither forgotten. Generations will hear of me.
I am Corona, I apologise for the damage caused.
I’m leaving now; I may return in a few years To remind man what he will soon forget. I will come to remind him that nothing, absolutely nothing matters; But Air, Water, Food and People Goodbye.
The poem, “May 29”, is a realistic one that graphically depicts the Nigerian political society. The poem is a satiric one which centres on the farcical nature of the Nigerian democratic system. According to the poet, democracy, as practised in Nigeria, is not in line with the tenets of true democracy. Instead of the Nigerian democracy being an affair for every citizen of Nigeria, it is an affair for a select few, that is, the rich, the political godfathers and the electoral candidates which are metaphorically referred to as “sacred cows”. The poet continues to criticise the Nigeria’s version of democracy by mentioning several flaws in it. He shows these flaws by describing the system as one that is infected. Finally, the persona admonishes that Nigerians should practise proper democracy by giving the people the opportunity to select their own leaders.
The title is significant to the subject matter and thematic content of this poem because it is a date that shows our return to the democratic system of government after decades of military rule. Little wonder why the 29th of May is regarded as Democracy Day in Nigeria. This day is one that should represent a new beginning for us Nigerians; however, it is not so because our democratic system is flawed by issues such as violence, preference for the rich, incompetence, godfatherism, anarchy, restriction of the press, amongst others. All these issues, no doubt, show that this poem is one which accurately portrays the Nigerian society.
Obviously, the issue of violence is central to the understanding of the subject matter. Violence, as an act, is one which pervades the Nigerian political system at all levels of government. It is not uncommon for political leaders and candidates to employ thugs that will aid them to suppress or intimidate the opposition. The persona sheds light on this issue by mentioning the disregard with which the rule of law is held in the country. He emphasises the obvious irony by defining democracy as a system of government where the practice of the rule of law is absent, that is, instead of having peace during elections, we have bloodshed. The except below strengthens this argument: “Democracy Without rule of law” Democracy with Deoxygenated blood”
Closely following the theme of violence is the theme of anarchy. Anarchy suggests a state of lawlessness. The Nigerian society is described as lawless by the poet due to several anomalies. To exemplify this state of lawlessness, we use several instances highlighted in the poem such as the decision to allow only the rich to govern; the violence that mars our elections; the absence of press freedom; and of course, the blatant disdain with which our constitution is treated by the political elite. Anarchy is further emphasised in the poem when the poet advises the ruling elite to give the people the power to constitutionally choose their own leaders instead of imposing leaders on the people through unconstitutional means.
“Let authority Emerge from the people Let the have the right To alternate leadership” What makes anarchy stand out as a theme is the sharp contrast between the two systems — democracy and anarchy. One symbolizes orderliness while the other represents chaos. Due to the obvious difference between the two ideologies, it becomes ironic that the Nigerian democratic system is deeply embedded in lawlessness.
Another theme that is central to this analysis is the theme of incompetence. The poet draws an image of a blundering person as he tries to define the Nigerian democratic system. To him, nothing about our democratic process is worth emulating and this is because those in charge did the weigh the advantages and disadvantages before making the decision to return to democracy. This explains why the persona, in the fifth stanza, describes the system as “premature”. He goes on by stating in the subsequent stanzas that our democracy is counterfeit; hence, it will never work unless we go back to the basis by giving the people the power to select those they want as leaders.
One cannot discuss the Nigerian democratic system without mentioning the problem of godfatherism. Political godfathers are powerful individuals who impose electoral candidates on the people. These godfathers can go to any length in order to ensure that their candidates win. This practice, unquestionably, limits our democratic system. The presence of these godfathers make the candidate untouchable, that is, these candidates cannot be rejected by the people irrespective of whether they are qualified or not. To further show that these candidates are untouchable, the poet describes them as “sacred cows”
Another issue that helps to give credence poet’s stance on Nigeria’s democracy is the fact that only the rich can contest elections. Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as a system of government that revolves around the choice of the people; but in the case of Nigeria, it is a government of the rich who rule for the benefits of the rich. This problem vividly support the writer’s claim that our democracy is infected.
The poem is structured in twelve quatrain stanzas. Each stanza, undoubtedly, is used by the poet to reinforce the main idea of this poem. The poet is consistent in his criticism of the Nigerian democratic process by clearly mentioning the different flaws in our democratic system in the stanzas. The stanzas are uniquely structured in such a way that no two stanza mention the same problem. For example, stanza two presents the system as one reserved for only the rich while stanza three exposes the bloodshed that is inherent in the Nigerian democratic process. Aside these differences, one can, without any iota of doubt, conclude that all the stanzas reinforce the fact that Nigeria is not practising the right form of democracy. Also important to note is that the stanzas lack any form of rhyme or regular meter; instead, the poet ensures musicality through the repeated use of the word “democracy”.
The diction — choice of words — employed by the poet is simple and straightforward. The poem is one whose subject matter can be easily deciphered by the reader due to the writer’s use of everyday words. Also, the choice of words is also important because it helps us establish that this poem is set in Nigeria. For example, the use of “May 29” as the title reveals a specific date, and constant repetition of the word “democracy” or its adjectival variant “democratic” help us to establish that the pun centres on democracy in Nigeria. Asides the use of somewhat complex expressions such as “rinderpest, suffused, deoxygenate, and Francis de Sales, to name a few, the poem is to a large extent easy to understand.
The persona’s tone can be described as satiric. This satiric tone is evident in the way the poet mocks the Nigerian version of democracy. It is worthy to note that this mockery is geared towards bringing about a change in the Nigerian society. The poet ridicules contrasts the Nigerian version with that of other developed democratic countries by sarcastically bringing his own variant of Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy. Instead of calling democracy an ideology that is people oriented, the persona calls democracy a system that has been reserved for the rich. He satirises all the lacunas in the Nigerian system, and he concludes by calling for a revamp of the system, that is, one that will ensure people’s participation.
Conclusively, this essay has been able to prove that this poem is realistic by discussing extensively on its form and content. The issues mentioned in this poem will, most certainly, convince any reader that this poem adequately mirrors the Nigerian political society.
“Akintunde, Come Home” is a free verse poem based on its form. The poem is a reflection of the Nigerian society, just as literature mirrors and reflects the society. “Akintunde, Come Home” exposes political ills prevalent in Nigeria; it reflects the malevolence and corrupt practises of African political leaders exhibited in their act of governing. The poet who seems to be more experienced, elderly and politically vigilant than the addressee exposes dubious acts of African leaders. The poem could be said to be a piece of advice or admonishment to young minds who find themselves in this political realm of corruption. The tone of the poet is rather persuasive as he calls political minds back to order. Apparently, its truthfulness to life is portrayed by the themes that can be derived from the poem. Some of these themes are: oppression; corruption; selfish ambitions; repercussion etc. Also, this poem, as an African poem, portrays core African values as seen in the way the persona employs adages to make his point clearer.
The poem opens with a rhetorical question of an African adage; “if a man’s mouth is small must he borrow a bigger one to talk to his child?” This adage brings us to a typical African society where proverbs are used to convey messages of inspiration, consolation, advice and many more, but precisely, the African adage used at the opening of this poem could be said to convey a message of advice and admonishment. The use of this adage portrays the poet as a typical African who is concerned on voicing his intent to his addressee on a pressing issue. Adages are common in African societies as it opens ground for dialogues; great writers like “Chinua Achebe” make use of adages in their works; novels, essays, poems etc. to make it full of wisdom. Africans believe in the truthfulness and effectiveness of adages on dialogues, even “Chinua Achebe” once wrote; “proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten”. Evidently, the adage used at the beginning of the poem shows its truthfulness to life as it shows us a picture of the African society.
In addition, the African society is governed by cold-blooded leaders with selfish ambitions. The poet in a serious manner, exposes the corrupt practises and malevolence of political leaders in the African society. Some of these callous acts by the ruling elites include: unfulfilled campaign promises; disregard for the poor; overpowering the weak, among other things as displayed and carefully highlighted in the poem.
Furthermore, the poem’s truthfulness to life is clearly seen in themes of oppression, corruption, selfish ambitions and repercussion, these themes aptly describe the nature of African politics. Oppression and corruption complements African politics as shown in the poem: “…where life is a race in which the strong trample the weak, dashing for the flattering fragments of stolen trophies”. Corruption takes most part of African politics as African leaders engage in looting of public funds, embezzlement of public funds and the likes. Oppression also is not left out as striving citizens are impoverished through deprivation of some rights. Rich politicians in the society look down on the poor with contempt. All these themes, undoubtedly, are aids that strengthen the fact that Niyi Osundare’s poem, “Akintunde, Come Home”, is one which accurately describes issues that are plaguing the African society.
Niyi Osundare also subscribes to the classical, or rather human law of retributive justice. This belief can be placed under the theme of repercussion. Repercussion, as employed in this poem, denotes that there are always consequences for every human action, be it good or bad. This can be seen in the poem as the speaker admonishes his addressee to quickly return to his roots before he would become a victim of the cases aforementioned. The persona vividly portrays his belief in repercussions in this line: “Come home before the sword you wield turns round to claim your neck.”
In conclusion, the who’ve explanations clearly show the relationship between the poem and realism: its truthfulness to life. The use of an African adage at the opening of the poem and themes that relates to present happenings in the African society evidently depicts the truthfulness of the poem to life. Also, from a mimetic point of view the poem could be said have being written in an attempt to curb political ills.