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
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 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.
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.Reference:
“Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967).” 2000. 19 Mar. 2007 <http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/okigbo.htm>
“Christopher Okigbo: The Fallen Bard.” 19 Mar. 2007
“Christopher Okigbo.” 10 March 2007. 19 Mar. 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Okigbo>
“The Complete Review's Review Complete Review.” 2005. 19 Mar. 2007