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Poetic Devices In Salute To The Elephant By Solomon Adeboye Babalola

The poem Salute To The Elephant was a Yoruba oral poem translated to English by Professor Solomon Adeboye Babalola (17/12/1926 - 15/12/2008). He was a professor at the University Of Lagos and among other things, he was for his love for ìjálá (hunters' song).

Since this post aims at revealing the poetic devices in the poem: Salute To The Elephant; below are the poetic devices within the poem:

1.SIMILEY is the use of like or as to create comparison. In the poem, there's "huge as a hill" in line 2, "like a garment" in line 7, " like a person suffering from a sprained neck" in line 19, "as wide as palm-oil pits" in line 28, "like shafts" in line 29.

2. METAPHOR is a indirect comparison that does not use as or like, the way simile does. "elephant's head is his burden" in line 20 is an example of a metaphor because such statement can still be reframed as the elephant balances his head like a burden. "the elephant who is a veritable ferry-man" in line 23. "whose eyes are veritable water-jar" in line 26, "one tooth of
his is a porter's load" in line 30.

3. REPETITION is a poetic device where certain words, phrases, lines, or verses are repeated twice or more to create a sing-song rhythm or emphasis in a poem. It is also called refrain. "O elephant" is repeated in virtually most if the lines of the poem. "Demon" is repeated in line 3,4,12 other repetitions are "Ajanaku" "praisenamed Laaye" "veritable" etc. "The hunter's boast at home is not repeated" is repeated in line 17 and 18.

4. IMAGERY is the use of words or expressions to created mental picture in a poem so the readers can see, smell, feel the event clearer. The beauty of the poem is make possible through the immense usage of imagery. Few of them are "Ajanaku who walks with heavy tread" in line 11, "Mountainous Animal, Huge Beast" in line 7, "the spiky pistil-cells" in line 12, "massive animal, blackish-grey in complexion" in line 13.

5. VERNACULAR is now considered one of the sweet poetic devices poetry can rely it beauty on. Vernacular can be dialect, slang, jargon, argot, etc. "Ajanaku" "Laaye" "Otiko" are few examples of vernaculars found in the poem salute To The Elephant.

6. SYMBOLISM is the use of word or expression to represent a status, event, or idea. Elephant in the poem is used as a symbol of god or deity. Demon is a symbol for unquestionable authority according to the poem. The statement "O death, please stop following me" symbolises the anger of the elephant.

7. ALLITERATION is the successive use of consonant sounds within a line or two in a poem. Such poetic device is not missing in the poem Salute To The Elephant. "Flapping fans of war" "part and parcel" "palm-oil pit" "sometimes see face to face" "huge as a hill" "fled to my father for refuge" "hang him up" "who walks with" "stands sturdy"

8. PERSONIFICATION is the giving of a human attributes to a non-human. "O Death, please stop following me" is a personification because death is made to have legs in the poem. "Primeval leper" gives the elephant a quality of a human suffering leprosy. "O elephant, possessor of a savings-basket full of money" is another instance of personification in the poem because human are only known to possess and use money as medium of transaction.

9. HYPERBOLE is the intentional usage of exaggeration in reference to an object, event, person, occurrence, etc. "huge as a hill" in line 2, "swallows palm fruit bunches whole, even with the spiky pistil-cells" in line 12, "veritable water-jars" in line 26.


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the fying Leo with wings for real)
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