Raphael in the poem "Africa", was addressing a lady who he taught was sad but the response of the lady made him realise that she wasn't sad but sick and dying due to arrogance and nonchalance of the people around. If the poem is to be viewed from its connotative meaning, the lady Armattoe was addressing is Africa, and Africa (as the mother of Africans) was feeling cold and numb because her children were dying as a result of not listening to the ways of their mother, Africa. The poem is a prove of Raphael Armattoe's vast imaginative reasoning. Since the poet could imagine that if Africa happened a human being, what would her complains be?
Simplicity has been the poetic trait of Raphael Armattoe. All his poems are simple but deep, including this one. The poem took the form of a very short dialogue with repetitions at the end of the first two lines. The tone of the poet at the first four lines is rhythmically sweet like that of a guy who wants to woo a lady but the remaining lines of the poem have a plaintiff tone complaining. The maiden is a metaphor for Africa as suggested by the title of the poem. Besides the use of metaphor, alliterations are as well obvious in the poem. In line 2, "sitting by the wayside, sad and lonely" in line 6, "deaf amid dumb".
Armattoe used maiden instead of mother as a suspense and also to show that Africa is never aging but her children grow old and die.
The simple message the poem is passing is that Africans should embrace more<!--more--> of their own culture and be safe.
I once saw a maiden dark and comely,
Sitting by the wayside, sad and lonely.
Oh! Pretty maiden, so dark and comely
Why sit by the wayside, sad and lonely?
‘I am neither sad nor lonely,’ She said,
‘But living, sir, among the deaf amid dumb;
Relentlessly watching these shameless dead,
Makes my warm heart grow very cold and numb.’
Copyright © Raphael Armattoe
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Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)