Archive for January, 2016

The Panic of Growing Older by Lenrie Peters

The panic

of growing older

spreads fluttering winds

from year to year

 

At twenty

stilled by hope

of gigantic success

time and exploration

 

At thirty

a sudden throb of

pain. Laboratory tests

have nothing to show

 

Legs cribbed

in domesticity allow

no sudden leaps

at the noon now

 

Copybook bisected

with red ink

and failures-

nothing to show the world

 

Three children perhaps

the world expects

it of you. No

specialist’s effort there.

 

But science gives hope

of twice three score

and ten. Hope

is not a grain of sand.

 

Inner satisfaction

dwindles in sharp

blades of expectation.

From now on the world has you.


About the Poet

Lenrie Peters (1932-2009) wrote the poem The Panic of Growing Older. He was a Gambian writer, poet, singer, broadcaster and surgeon. He studied in Gambia, Sierra Leone and England. He published his collection of poems titled Satellites in 1967. Though renowned for his poems, he has a novel to his credit titled The Second Round. In The Panic of Growing Older, the poet brought to bear his medical background as he described the physiological and psychological process of aging.


Analysis

The poem is about the different phases of human development starting from birth through adulthood and old age. The aging process is slow: spreads fluttering winds from year to year.

In the second stanza, the poet describes what happens in early adulthood. This period is filled with high expectations, hopes, ambition, and adventure. One also has the advantage of time: At twenty/stilled by hope/ of gigantic success/ time and exploration.

The next stanza describes age thirty as the period when one begins to experience pain that lacks medical explanation: At thirty a sudden throb of pain. Laboratory tests have nothing to show.

The fourth stanza portrays what happens in old age. As one approaches old age, weakness sets in and one loses agility: Legs cribbed /in domesticity allow/ no sudden leaps/ at the noon now. Often, one spends all his years on earth trying to copy others without success: Copybook bisected /with red ink and failures. In the end, he has nothing to show the world except children which the poet does not consider an achievement: Three children perhaps/ the world expects /it of you. No/ specialist’s effort there.

Although science gives hope of living up to seventy years, this is not a sure fact: But science gives hope of twice three score and ten. Hope is not a grain of sand. In old age, the thoughts of unfulfilled dreams and aspirations bring weakness to the mind: Inner satisfaction dwindles in sharp blades of expectation.

With not much time left, the aged has very little control of his life and simply resigns to fate: From now on the world has you.

Structure

This is a free verse poem with no consistent meter pattern or rhyme scheme. It has eight stanzas written in short phrases and arranged chronologically. Each stanza describes the different phases of life.

Language

The poem’s language is simple. However, the poet uses symbols to represent the aging process. Examples include: “legs cribbed”, “throb of pain”.

Theme

The poem’s main theme is the fear of aging or growing old. Other themes are mortality of man and life’s uncertainties.

Mood and Tone

The mood is passive. Though the pain associated with aging is undesirable, the poet accepts that aging is inevitable. The tone is calm.

Poetic Devices

1. Metaphor: Example- “fluttering winds” which describes the anxiety of aging.

2. Symbols: Examples- “sudden throb of pain“,”legs cribbed” represent weakness associated with aging. “Hope of gigantic success/ time and exploration” represent the youthful age.

3. Repetition: The word “hope” was repeated in the seventh stanza.

4. Alliteration: Example- “from year to year”

What other figures of speech can you identify in this poem?

See also The Dining Table, Ambush, Vanity, The Anvil and the Hammer, The school boy, and Othello.

 

 

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Ambush by Gbemisola Adeoti

The land is a giant whale

that swallows the sinker,

with hook, line and bait

aborting dreams of a good catch

fishers turn home at dusk

blue Peter on empty ships

all Peters with petered out desires.

 

The land is a saber-toothed tiger

that cries deep in the glade

While infants shudder home

the grizzled ones snatch their gut

from bayonets of tribulation

halting venturous walk at dusk

 

The land is a giant hawk

that courts unceasing disaster

as it hovers and hoots in space

 

The land lies patiently ahead

awaiting in ambush

those who point away from a direction

where nothing happens toward the shore of possibilities.

 

Background

Ambush is written by Gbemisola Adeoti, a professor of English Language at the Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile-Ife (Nigeria) and the director of the Institute of Cultural Studies of the same institution. He is a seasoned poet, a social commentator and writer with many works to his credit.

Analysis

The poem Ambush portrays the socio-political problems facing Nigeria. The poet describes how lofty dreams, aspiration, visions, and hopes are shattered by the political class that continually plunders the nation’s resources.

In the first stanza, he directly compares the ruling class with a giant whale that swallows the nation’s resources leaving nothing behind: The land is a giant whale/ that swallow the sinker/ with hook, line and bait aborting dreams of a good catch.

By way of allusion, he further relates the Nigerian situation to the Biblical event where Apostle Peter toiled all night on sea without catching any fish until he met Jesus who told him what to do: blue Peter on empty ships/ all Peters with petered out desires.

As a result of the many years of failed governance, the country experiences all kinds of social problems like violence, robbery, insurgence, kidnapping thus becoming a sabre-toothed tiger/a giant hawk. The youths and elder statesmen refrain from agitation for fear of being persecuted or repressed by government: While infants shudder home/the grizzled ones snatch their gut/from bayonets of tribulation/halting venturous walk at dusk.

In the last stanza, while the poet looks forward to a generation that will take the nation out of its hopeless state toward the shore of possibilities, his hope is threatened by the ravenous nature of the ruling class: The land lies patiently ahead/ awaiting in ambush, ready to devour the future change-agents.

Structure

It is a four stanza poem arranged in sequence. It does not have a consistent meter pattern or rhythm.

Language

The language is simple but metaphoric. Imagery There are lot of symbolic expressions in the poem which enhance the poet’s message. Examples: “giant whale”, “giant hawk”, “petered out desires”, “sabre-toothed tiger”, “grizzled ones”.

Mood and Tone

The mood is gloomy and sober with a corresponding tone of lamentation and pessimism. There appears to be a shift in tone in the last stanza as he expresses hope but he ends the stanza on a pessimistic note.

Poetic Devices/Figures of Speech

1. Metaphor: This is direct comparison. Examples: The land is a giant whale/ The land is a sabre-toothed tiger/The land is a giant hawk.

2. Allusion: The poet alludes to the Biblical Peter in stanza 1.

3. Alliteration: Examples: that swallow the sinker/all Peter with petered out desires

4. Personification: The poet gives life to land. Examples: that swallow the sinker/The land….hoovers and hoots in space/The land lies patiently ahead.

What other figures of speech can you identify in this poem?

 

 

 


 

 

 

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The School Boy by William Blake

The School Boy by William Blake

I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the sky-lark sings with me.
O! what sweet company.

But to go to school in a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn.
The little ones spend the day,
In sighing and dismay.

Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour,
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learnings bower,
Worn thro’ with the dreary shower.

How can the bird that is born for joy,
Sit in a cage and sing.
How can a child when fears annoy.
But droop his tender wing.
And forget his youthful spring.

O! father & mother. if buds are nip’d,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are strip’d
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care’s dismay.

How shall the summer arise in joy.
Or the summer fruits appear.
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy
Or bless the mellowing year.
When the blasts of winter appear.

ANALYSIS

The poem The School Boy is about a young boy who longs to be free from restraints and wishes to be allowed to play and explore the beautiful works of nature.

In the first stanza, the poem persona feels joyful to rise in the fresh and delightful summer morning as the chirping birds announce the break of dawn. He loves to be entertained by the hunter whose clarion can be heard from a distant field mixed with the sweet lullaby of the skylark.

The second stanza is set to juxtapose the opening stanza, as the persona feels disappointed at being sent to school on a sweet summer morning. He really wishes to enjoy the summer in all its beauty, hence, he hates to go to school which has many regulations and restrictions. Instead of enjoying the pleasures of summer, the school boy is forced to attend school where he spends his day in boredom and dismay.

In the third stanza, the persona expresses his weariness ‘… I drooping sit/and spend many an anxious hour’. He tries to forget the assault on him by the oppressive personality of the teacher (Under a cruel eye outworn) and the unnecessary lecture he is forced to attend ‘worn thro’ with dreary shower. The teacher dishes his lessons without attempting to understand the child’s need and urge for unchecked freedom.

In the fourth stanza, he likens himself to a bird and laments: how can the bird that is born for joy/sit in a cage and sing? In other words, if a child remains under fear and tension, under the skepticism of his teacher, he can never enjoy the natural instinct of joy and playfulness. The joy he should feel will be eroded by rigid and ruthless discipline.

In the fifth stanza, the poet complains to the highest authorities known to him, his father and mother: O! father and mother, if buds are nip’d/ and blossoms blow away/ and if the tender plants are strip’d… ‘.

The persona concludes his argument in the sixth stanza. He argues that if pleasures and joy are censored from a child’s life by strict parenting and schooling, the child’s adult life may be utterly unproductive, dry and useless.

  • Posted by Dayo Okubule
  • on January 19, 2016
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  • Book Reviews
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How To Answer WAEC Literature Examination Questions

I have received quite a number of requests from students on how to answer WAEC Literature questions. Though I love literature and can analyse texts and poems, I am always quick to point out that I am not a teacher of literature. I believe the question “how to answer WAEC literature examination questions” would be best answered by a qualified literature teacher who prepares students for WAEC examinations.

In my quest to have a literature teacher on board, I met Mr. Ismail Owoseni, a seasoned literature teacher and a member of this forum and discussed the possibility of doing a write-up on the topic. Luckily, he shares the same passion with me and offered to do a write-up on the topic “free of charge”. Please find below the article “How to answer WAEC Literature Examination Questions”. I hope you find it helpful.

 

Owoseni Ismail, Literature tutor at Galad Advance Studies School, Ilorin. He is a writer, motivational speaker and poet.

Owoseni Ismail, English literature tutor at Galad Advance Studies School, Ilorin. He is a writer, motivational speaker and poet.

I feel delighted and honoured for this great opportunity given to me to write on this topic.
To start with, candidates should know that there is no shortcut to success especially for students of literature. They should also know that Literature-in-English is all about reading, analyzing and writing. I strongly advise that they read the full texts prior to the examination day, not at the eve of the examination.
For every literature question, your answer must relate to the question and must be concise, meaningful, contain relevant information and ample references from the text. Candidates who do not make references from the text may not score well. Let us take a quick look at these questions.
1. Write a short note on these characters:
a. Yaremi
b. Aloho

These are characters in  “Lonely Days” by Bayo Adebowale and “Harvest of Corruption” by Frank Ogodo Ogbeche.
Literally, how do you know a character in a text? You know a character by the following:
1. what he or she says;
2. what people or other characters say about him or her; and
3. what he or she does in the text.

If for instance, you say “Yaremi is a good mother”, you need to show “how” and “why” she is a good mother. The question can only be answered from the text.
You should know that the examiner expects you to use each question to show as much as your knowledge about the text as you can so it is important to read and study each text extensively. Summaries are never enough. You must read and study the text in detail.

Equally important is the need to plan your answers. Spend about five minutes thinking of the points you need to answer each question. Make use of quotations from the text. These may be in form of short phrases picked from the text to support your points.

Ensure you end each answer with a conclusion which is a summary of all the points in your essay.

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Yes, my books (powerful prayers by Rev. Fr. Mbaka) arrived yesterday, 02 January 2016. You will also be proud to learn that my book order forged closer ties with one of your compatriots and close neighbor here in Canada.

My postal mail box is in a UPS shop belonging to a Nigerian family here in the city of Calgary, Canada. The lady was on duty when I went to collect the parcel yesterday afternoon. She knows that I am from Zimbabwe and was curious to find out why and how I was able to order books from Nigeria. And as I was telling her how I accidentally found your website on the internet while looking for the book, she was about to hand me the parcel when she looked at the sender’s name and address and stood still looking at me in disbelief. She just couldn’t contain her excitement telling me that she is your neighbor there in Lagos too and her family house is very close to your pick-up/drop off outlet in Gbagada-Lagos. I also just can’t believe how small this world can be.

May I take this opportunity and wish a happy and prosperous 2016.

Once again thank you very much for your super-efficient and professional service.

Best regards.

Chris N. (Calgary, Canada)

  • Posted by Dayo Okubule
  • on January 10, 2016
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My book (Overcoming Spiritual Wickedness by Pastor Anyiam) arrived Kaduna yesterday. It arrived earlier than expected. Thank you very much.

Lydia W.

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