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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