Themes of Piano and Drums by Gabriel Okara

Themes of Piano and Drums by Gabriel Okara

vanguard okara gabriel naijapoets
vanguardngr photo

Gabriel Okara, the writer of “Piano and Drum” was born in Bayelsa state, Nigeria in 1921. A novelist and a poet; he was once a civil servant. His poem “Piano and Drums” was well beautified with imagery and symbolism.
The themes of the poem can be divided into two: (1) Childhood reminiscence and its effect (2) Complexity of the future and dilemma.
    Childhood reminiscence and its effect

The poem speaker was reminded of his/her “primal youth and the beginning” through the quietness of the early morning river and the echoing forest. While at the riverside, the poem speaker could “hear jungle drums telegraphing/the mystic rhythm…” (Line 2 & 3) and other things like panther, leopard, hunters crouching with poised spears, etc added to his/her memory.

The poem speaker revealed in stanza 2, the effect
such reminiscence brought to his/her memory of sitting “in my mother’s lap a suckling”, “walking simple paths with no innovations”, and groping in green leaves with wild flowers in naked hurrying feet.
    Complexity of the future and dilemma

How complex, unstable and confusing the future looks was portrayed in the stanza 3 of the poem “Piano and Drums”. The poem speaker heard “a wailing piano” which symbolised a painful sound which “solo speaking of complex ways” (the unknown future) and such painful sound brought a silent cry which the poem referred to as “in tear-furrowed concerto”. In spite of the pain, the poem speaker got “lost in the labyrinth of it complexities” which symbolised the confusing complexity of the future through rough(coaxing) mild(diminuendo) opposite-change(counterpoint) and tough(crescendo). The poem speaker concluded that he found himself/herself in dilemma “wandering in the mystic rhythm/of jungle drums and the concerto.”(line 28 & 29)


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the candid Leo with wings flying)

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