Analysis of Ibadan by John Pepper Clark

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The Poet and Summary

The poet, John Pepper Clark wrote the poem title “Ibadan”. He was born in Delta, Nigeria on the 6th of April, 1935.

This’ a descriptive poem. Clark painted an image of Ibadan, the largest city in Nigeria as of the time of this post. He saw rustiness and muddiness deposited haphazardly amidst the hill-city but the simplicity of the poem, made it hard to determine whether he was disgusted or marveled at the sight he described.

The Message and Paraphrase

Actually, the message of the poem is that Ibadan is an ancient city where the huge effort of modernization seemed hard to erode its ancestral landmark.

To paraphrase the poem, it will flow thus: As I drove by the city of Ibadan, I saw mud buildings with rusty roofing so much like a water splash. They seemed scattered around the seven hills like broken China.

The Use of Imagery

The five line poem (Quintain) is dominated with imagery yet there are enjambment, simile, assonance, etc. According to thepoetsgarret, “there are many great poems that use a five line stanza, often called a Quintain. It can be any five line stanza poem of any meter or line length and is often misused because of it’s alleged simplicity.” 

Let’s further shed light on the imageries: 

  • “Running” in line 2 indicates movement and because a city can’t be mobile led to the conclusion that the poem speaker described what he saw while in a moving vehicle.
  • “splash of rust” refers to the large numbers of rust roofing that are always obvious to those traveling through the city.
  • “Gold-flung” describes the yellowish mud which most ancient Ibadan buildings are made of.
  • “Among seven hills” in line 4 enlightens that there are seven hills in the city of Ibadan.
  • “broken/ China in the sun” is another image of sight which John Pepper Clark employed in the poem to indicate the uniformity of architectural age in the city.

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Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)

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