Saturday, 3 June 2017

The Message and Structural Review
The poem “Piano and Drums” by Gabriel Okara focused on the poets position with two opposing cultures (African and European) and from the context of the poem, his African background which was symbolized with “Drums” was deeply explained all through the first and the second stanzas; at the commencement of the third stanza, he revealed his feeling towards his newly embraced way of life (the European civilized living) which was symbolized by the poet with the image of “Piano”.  

As it is very necessary for the readers to link the form of the poem to the themes, the theme of African cultural simplicity resided with stanza one and two. How? Okara felt that the African culture is simpler and easier to live with as seen to be full of innocence; lacking innovation “fashioned with the naked/ warmth of hurrying feet and groping hearts/ in green leaves and wild flowers pulsing”. 

The theme of foreign cultural complexity dominated the third stanza of the poem where the symbol “Piano” was hard to understand leaving the poet lost in its rhythm. The poet then confessed his confusion of which culture to fully embrace at the final stanza of the poem:
“And I lost in the morning mist
of an age at a riverside keep
wandering in the mystic rhythm
of jungle drums and the concerto”

Exactly which parts of the poem can the themes be drawn? To attend to this question, here are few of the themes (i) Simplicity of the African culture (ii) the complex European lifestyle (iii) dilemma (iv) clash of two culture (v) reminiscence/innocence. Between line 12-16, Gabriel Okara spoke on the simplicity in the African culture saying “at once I’m walking simple/ paths with no innovations/ rugged, fashioned with the naked/ warmth of hurrying feet and groping hearts/ in green leaves and wild flowers pulsing”. From line 17-20, the complexity of the European culture was portrayed as “a wailing piano/ solo speaking of complex ways/ in tear-furrowed concerto/ on far away lands…” 

The theme of dilemma is within line 26-29 where Okara was unable to decide whether to forgo his past way of life for the newly acquired: “And I lost in the morning mist/ of an age at a riverside keep/ wandering in the mystic rhythm/ of jungle drums and the concerto”. The theme of clash of culture can be best explained via the title “Piano” and “Drums”. The poet placed them side-by-side to reveal his worries; by representing the African culture with “Drums” and European culture with “Piano” while the theme of reminiscence or innocence was between line 1-11 where the poet talked about his past or African background as a riverside dweller with hunting experience: “When at break of day at a riverside/ I hear jungle drums telegraphing/ the mystic rhythm, urgent, raw/ like bleeding flesh, speaking of/ primal youth and the beginning/ I see the panther ready to pounce/ the leopard snarling about to leap/ and the hunters crouched with spears poised”.

From the aforementioned, it’s obvious that “Piano and Drums” is a poem about culture as similar to “Vanity” by Birago Diop and “The Anvil and The Hammer” by Kofi Awoonor; even though, Birago Diop’s poem titled “Vanity” differs in the sense that it emphasized on the neglect of the African culture from the view point of the ancestors. “Piano and Drums” and “The Anvil and The Hammer” share the same philosophy by revealing the poet’s stock between two opposing cultures.

The Setting and Background
Though the setting of the poem showed a very rural setting with the use of "jungle" "leaves" "hunter" "panther" and many more but the best pronounced setting of the poem is Africa. The poet is an African speaker from experience; known the true value of being an African and being part of colonialism which is indelible wherever smeared. {VIEW A DEATAILED EXPLANATION}.

The Alluring Figurative in the Poem
There are some poetic devices in the poem which cannot go unnoticed in terms of alliterations "the panther ready to pounce" in line 6, "leopard snarling about to leap" in line 7, "turn torrent" in line 9, "solo speaking" in line 18. {VIEW A DETAILED EXPLANATION}.

Likely Questions on Piano and Drums
  1. Discuss how the form of the poem relates its message.
  2. Identify and explain the major themes of Piano and Drums.
  3. Comment on the poetic devices in Piano and Drums by Gabriel Okara
  4. Discuss the use symbolism in Okara's Piano and Drums.
  5. Relate the poem to the present African society.
  6. Examine the poet's change in moods in the poem.
  7. Does the poem's structure affect the meaning? Explain.
  8. Comment on the use of contrasts in the poem.
  9. Comment on the use of imagery in Piano and Drums.
  10. Justify that the title is a symbolism. 


Post a Comment

10 Most Trending Stories

Popular Posts