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Monday, March 19, 2007

'Come Thunder' - Christopher Okigbo

Come Thunder

Christopher Okigbo

The Poet and the Background

A Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo is an important voice in post-colonial literature as well as twentieth century literature. He has been referred to as an outstanding postcolonial English-language African poet and one of the major modernist writers of the twentieth century. His poetry has a strong influence of modernist European and American poetry, African tribal mythology, and Nigerian music and rhythms. Like most African litterateur, Christopher Okigbo was also a poet activist. Okigbo spent the best years of his life tormenting over the problems within his society and trying to solve them. Through his poetry, he tried to convey his visions of Nigerian society.

Some of the recurring images in Okigbo's poems are dance, thunder, and sound of drums. One can find all these in ‘Come Thunder’ as well. One can also see a vision of a spiritual quest, in his poem/s which takes the poet to the realm of ancient myths and to his spiritual self. Okigbo uses repetition, songlike rhythm and melodious flow of words.

He is also called the poet of destiny

He follows the romantic notion of poetry in that he believes that the poet "is no ordinary mortal but a divinely inspired artist, a possessed performer through whom hidden truths of the spirit are revealed and through whose influence mankind undergoes regeneration and spiritual rebirth. The poet, in the romantic tradition, functions severally as priest, prophet, and legislator for mankind, as a man speaking to other men with a voice of moral authority strengthened by heightened sensibility. He is a man imbued with an understanding and suffering soul, a kind of a god."

His poems also gain importance as prophecy and warning to Nigerians and the misrulers of Nigeria against continued national misdirection.

To understand Okigbo better one needs to locate the poet squarely with all communalistic traditional African poetics, in which aesthetics and social functionality are coordinate components of art. He totally identified with the Nigerian people. Okigbo's project included a sustained critical introspection, and his indignation, a militancy, despair, and ultimate martyrdom do not constitute a pessimistic closure.

The poems which are cut up, divided, brief in their sections, impress from line to line. Structure of his poems also is significant. Lines are repeated and varied throughout several of the poem-sequences.

The poem

The characteristic so Okigbo’s poems discussed in the background section hold good in the case of ‘Come Thunder’ too. The style, tone, and techniques used are much like those found in modernist poets. But the rhythm is essentially non-English. Abundant use of plosive sounds, in words and lines give a pattern to the poem. All this give the poem onomatopoeic effect which is in tune with the main motif of the poem – thunder.

The language is prophetic. It prophesies what is to come. There is warning given perhaps to the rulers of the impending changes or revolution. The revolution that seems to be suggested is one that will make the entire society tremble. The impending revolution should be seen in the backdrop of Nigerian (?) civil war.

One can notice a lot of juxtapositions. To understand the poem read it aloud.

I am aware that I have not substantiated my points with quotations from the poem. I leave t hem to you to do. You may comment here on the poem or on my post I shall respond to all your comments. I do it order to make it interactive and allow you to explore the poem. This is my reading of the poem. You may challenge it.

Try and see how this is a postcolonial poem? How it incorporates some of the issues I mentioned in the section on background.


“Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967).” 2000. 19 Mar. 2007 <>

“Christopher Okigbo: The Fallen Bard.” 19 Mar. 2007

“Christopher Okigbo.” 10 March 2007. 19 Mar. 2007 <>

“The Complete Review's Review Complete Review.” 2005. 19 Mar. 2007


Blogmaster said...

see also for the Sentinel Poetry (Online) Special Edition on Christopher Okigbo.

Nnorom Azuonye
Managing Editor

Anonymous said...

please post notes on present 4th sem optinal english essays....... it without fail.......
its tooo help us...........

Anil Pinto said...

I wish I could, but since my help is extremely bad, I would not be able to help out. Extremely sorry. I appreciate the interest.

shobana said...

Hey pinto...get well soon!

Anonymous said...

sir please give us basic ideas on these essays -canadian and australian comparison and Towards national culture -4th semester optional english

The way i am... said...

Thanks a lot sir...

Anil Pinto said...

For Post-colonial Scramble which is one of the difficult and tedious of the essays please find the post on my blog. its

Anil Pinto said...

if you type scramble in the search space in my blog also you will get the summary and comments on the essays.

I am sorry that i cannot put posts on the other essays due to paucity of time.

all the best for the exam.

also if you have written the summaries and comments for the essays i can post on my blog in your name so that it can help your batchmates or juniors.

Anonymous said...

pls give the analysis and summaries of 4 the sem poems and canadian essay....
sir thanne sharanam

Anil Pinto said...

Wish I could but i am afraid the paucity of time may not permit me.... May be some of your classmates can chip in and send me their analysis of it.

Samhita Rao said...

Hello sir,

Thanks for the blogpost. I incidentally do have a few notes on three poems, that is Australia, New York and In The Secular Night. If there is anyway I can copy these notes to you, I would be glad to. I'm everyone already has it, but I suppose contribution never hurts, eh?
I'm not quite sure how to contribute to your blog, but if you permit me, I guess I can discover how to post the notes on your blog.

Vineeth said...

Twas very helpful Mr. Pinto. Ty :)

Anil Pinto said...

Thanks, vineeth. Samhita, that's very kind of you. Will be happy to see your posts here. Do email me your gmail id. Will send invite to contribute.