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.



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.


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.


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


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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  1. Clever Reply

    Omg….I can’t believe I have finally understand this poem,I hate to say it but on a serious note,I find it difficult understanding poems like this cuz of its style of english,and I have been searching for a good explanation to this poem but to no avail,till I remembered this great website and I must confess,I love u guys to the core cuz I get whatever I find difficult only in this site,to be serious.Special thanks to darling Dayo,God bless you and continue your good work cuz it means a lot to us,since personally I can’t get these literature books but you have made it possible for me to read and understand it all here..Thanks a billion Dayo.Words can’t explain how greatful I am

    • Dayo Okubule Reply

      @clever. I sincerely appreciate your comment. However, I strongly advise that you get all the recommended texts and study them. They are available for purchase in bookshops across the country and in our online store.

      This post is just a study guide to aid your understanding of the texts.

      • Michael Reply

        Ma, I what’s the title of the text?

  2. Clever Reply

    Aright Dayo,am gona do that..thanx

  3. matthias Reply

    tnks alot to u mrs greatful for dis devine act of urs….tnks for d vivid undrstnding of ambush.God bless u ma.

  4. Loveth Patrick Reply

    Nice! Love ur works; they are xplicit and above all, comprehensible. I’m actually a big fan……

  5. cluster Reply

    tnx mrs/miss dayo..i seriously appreciate this handy piece of art you and your crew analyzed,made me to understan and appreciate the poem more.thanks this will greatly help me in my upcoming exams

  6. pelemo oyonude Reply

    The land awaitin in ambush[personification]

  7. Amicsizy Reply

    Hovers and hoots :assonance
    Thank Ma 4 d write up it z rili helpful

  8. Treasure Reply

    Repetition: The Land……… The Land………The Land

  9. Olonade olamide Reply

    Epitome of kindness!!..Nice one aunt!!…{Bless u}

  10. dadda oluwasola Reply

    repetition………..- peter…… peter………. With petered out…….

  11. Tonia Reply

    …All I can say is Wow!

  12. mary Reply

    its really great to know dat someone cares about the young ones education.thanks alot miss/mrs dayo u just made everything easy, may d good Lord continue to bless u nd strenghten u for dis gud work.

  13. valentine Reply

    You are the best dayo…. You are the best!!! !!

  14. Godson Reply

    Thanks a lot ma’am

    • Pressman Ozioma. Reply

      This is interesting, Thanks a lot Mrs Dayo I appreciate your effort, I’m hopping to make an A in my Literature in English . thanks !

  15. Dayil Cletus Reply

    I keep on saying thanks for the good job ma’am

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  17. King ken Reply

    I absolutely,unreverceable,appreciate ur handwork,over dis poet “the ambush” what a gr8 work u’ve done mr dayo i king ken troway salute…call u oga nla

  18. David kolo Reply

    wow. i can nw understand what it takees to study literature

  19. Darkwah Reply

    I just love this site

  20. Asamoah Ebenezer Reply

    Oh very easy to understand.Thanks a lot Mama Deyo

  21. Ajani john Reply

    Thanks for the explanation.

  22. Nana Akuoko Sarpong Ingenious Reply

    This poem has help the young ones to know their political stands and this is very good work of Adeoti.

  23. drummier Reply

    waow…tnx dayo

  24. Omoju T.D Reply

    More grease to your elbows Madam D.O. Being a graduate of Literary Studies, I so much hold in very high esteem your gigantic contributions to humanity through your simple explanation of the texts that would posed like a monster to young Nigerians. God bless ma.

  25. Elijah Reply

    Thanks very much ma for the analyses on the poems.

  26. Hassan kamara Reply

    Words alone ar not enough to tell u hw gr8ful i am to dis websitd cuz it teaches me a lot

  27. Anane Maxwell Reply

    I thank you for explaining things and making it easier to understand

  28. James Reply

    I Like this site but i can use this explanation to directly for my exams? thanks

  29. Alasan sey Reply

    woow I love the peom,i wana be a professional writer someday……

  30. dukeman Reply

    gud’ u are so concern abt us every year

  31. Olaitan Reply

    Wow what a great site i love u i really do u have do me great favour may the lord continue to sharpen ur brain and protect it from stain

  32. Chrysm Reply

    Very helpful. But I think the political class is not sole cause of Africa’s woes. The people and their unexamined beliefs, superstitions, traditions…. are contributory. So, to me, “land” refers to the continent and its people, including the ruling class.

  33. Ezekiel naphtaliiiiiii@ Reply

    The exaplanation is explict!i love this bless u ma,

  34. Ezekiel naphtaliiiiiiihardcor@Abusite Reply

    It is amusing and contain proverbial wisdom throught out the run on line,,,,,,

  35. rahman ibrahim oluwatobi Reply

    im starting 2 love dis website,bcos it gives me more understanding on dis poems(ambush,shall i compare thee to a summer’s day,birches etc)god will continue blessing thank u for helping we nigerian child and student
    a big thank you from rahman ibrahim

  36. Abigail Reply

    Seriously this is one of the interesting poems I have ever read,and it is written in simple English,
    wow I will forever love literature
    And this tells us we literature students
    do not see things from the lame man’s perspective.

  37. NYEMA A. Kubie Reply

    Hi Dayo, Indeed, you are great help to me in my literature course at the William VS Tubman University in Liberia. Analyzing this poem was one of my fears in doing this course. But your post have helped me out a lot. May God bless, help and provide you more financial aid for your good work.

  38. Michael Omoregbee Reply

    I am not very sure I agree fully with the analysis of this poem presented here. There are many things rightly said, but the major thrust of this poem has not been captured by this analysis. Just my thoughts

  39. Agu glory Reply

    Another poetic device that i observed is * Enjambment* the writer uses run on lines to write his poem hence making it more comprehensible.

  40. Abdulsalam M Sani Reply

    Hello Ma, Thanks For U For This Help And Assistance.Pls Ma Help Us With The Rest Of The Books.Eg Native Son, Raisin In The Sun, And The Rest.Abdulsalam M Sani Kofar Kibo, Zaria, Kaduna State.

  41. Seun Reply

    I don’t stop searching abt the analysis of poems until I will come across urs@ Dayo….. You analysis has been helpful u r superb… Thanks

  42. jay Reply

    nicely done thanks for dis post where can I find the remain pomes guide

  43. Adekola Reply


  44. Ola Reply

    It hard for me to understand this particular poem. But I think In UK nderstand it better now. A big thank u

  45. Godwin Mawuko Reply

    Keep it up

  46. Benjamin Reply

    to my own point of view of the theme are: possibility, Hope and the land is green. there is hope and possibility in the land despite the challenges and hardship that is facing us a state.The hope and possibility are hiding waiting patiently ahead waiting for those that have eyes and are not pointing towards the negative aspect of the land they are the ones that will see it (Hope, possibility).

  47. Cletus Reply

    Is this the summary of the poem or the complet poem?

    • Dayo Okubule Reply

      @Cletus. That is the complete poem with its summary

  48. francis chukz Reply

    I’m really satisfy with de good work here, infact i am preparing for my exam and i tink dis understandin to the poem will make me smile wen my result will be out.
    thankz ma

  49. Nwabueze Jennifer Reply

    Mrs Dayo please what does the poet personae mean by Peter with Peter petered out desires.

  50. Alfred Ennin Reply

    The poet emmploys simple diction but metaphoric as explained earlier.
    All add to the aesthetism of the poem
    Thanx for the vivid explanation

  51. Anuoluwapo Reply

    Thanks so much, nice one. What about other poems like pianos and drums, Birches. Etc. That birches is really giving me headache. Please help us out.

  52. Pressman Ozioma. Reply

    thanks so much interesting!
    hoping to make an A in my lit-in-English.
    thanks a lot.

  53. Althene faith Sekajipo Reply

    Really helped me a lot with my literature assignments

  54. habeeb Reply

    Really am preparing for literature exams it helps a lot thanks

  55. kamil Reply

    appreciate it a lot

  56. floret Reply

    sorry to ask, can someone study literature in any university, I mean is it a course on its own??

    • Dayo Okubule Reply

      Most universities in Nigeria offer English. The curriculum includes Literature.

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