Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Naijapoets.com loves to commence this analysis with the view of the poem's structure. A free verse in the sense that, the five stanzas don't rhyme nor maintain a similarity in line count per stanza. Note as well is that Ben Okri positioned each of his points of discuss in line with stanza break. The first and the last stanza are refrains of the same idea (life is simple but humans made life a difficult place for themselves). The stanza two which he chopped into thirteen lines discussed human inability to admit the pains they live through are self-made. The third verse of the poem pointed that love doesn't thrive where there is starvation and hopeless suffering, he portrayed such ideas through the child-parent bond. 

Humans' insatiable desire to acquire definitely lead to destruction, chaos and unrest; as said by the poet in stanza four below:
"Minor devastations preceding
Resonate the ineffable.
The mothers that wake
At the slightest sound
And the fathers that
Smoke all night
And the rest of us who are
Vigilantes from the demons
Of oppressed sleep
Find at dawn the clearest
Images of bewilderment.
Even the best things
Collapse beneath the weight
Of ignorance."

There are many imageries and metaphors embellished in the poem "Living is a Fire" by Ben Okri and few will be revealed in this article. Starting with the title of the poem which is a metaphor by placing "living" and "fire" side-by-side in an attempt to show that living on earth has been made fearful, dangerous, painful, et cetera. The way the following phrases were presented in the poem also depicted metaphor "the weight of ignorance" "images of bewilderment". Most of the images are of sight "wave-lashes" which refers to the longhaired people, "the broken catwalk", "rock-faces" which refers to adults irrespective of the gender or race. "Living is a fire" and "Comprehends" among others are repeated in the poem while alliteration found in the poem is in line eleven "At the slightest sound".

As slightly mentioned earlier, the poem revealed the extra miles and the straining task people pass through in order to fulfill their unending desires for materialities but ceased to value nature's gifts such as free given rain "Drenching Our doorsteps". The poet addressed the issue from a first person point of view with the repeated use of "We" and "Us" to show himself included.

Important to note:-
"We are drawn/ To many seas" this lines could mean coercion or many economic and social responsibilities human force themselves into in order to measure up in life.

"Simplest act of living" meaning the daily endeavors.

"failure of confrontation" means the way people shy away from the fact of their actions.

"The demons of oppressed sleep" is a personification indicating the people's inability to go sleep.

"Catwalk" in the poem is an elevated enclosed passage providing access fore and aft from the bridge of a merchant vessel.

"Lacerations" in the poem point to the people's struggle with life.

Ben Okri is a Nigerian poet and novelist. He lived his youth between Nigeria and London. One among his well recognized book is The Famished Road.

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


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