Piano and Drums: A Poem by Gabriel Okara

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Gabriel Okara: Piano and Drums

When at break of day at a riverside
I hear jungle drums telegraphing
the mystic rhythm, urgent, raw
like bleeding flesh, speaking of
primal youth and the beginning
I see the panther ready to pounce,
the leopard snarling about to leap
and the hunters crouch with
spears poised;

And my blood ripples, turns torrent,
topples the years and at once I’m
in my mother’s lap a suckling;
at once I’m walking simple
paths with no innovations,
rugged, fashioned with the naked
warmth of hurrying feet and
groping hearts
in green leaves and wild flowers pulsing

Then I hear a wailing piano
solo speaking of complex ways
in tear-furrowed concerto;
of far away lands
and new horizons with
coaxing diminuendo, counterpoint
crescendo. But lost in the labyrinth
of its complexities, it ends in the middle
of a phrase at a daggerpoint.

And I lost in the morning mist
of an age at a riverside keep
wandering in the mystic rhythm
of jungle drums and the concerto.


Photo by Lee Pigott on Unsplash

Ralph spends his day working as an online entrepreneur and e-learning strategist. As a digital publishing trainer/consultant, he has developed exceptional skills in SEO-content writing. He writes extensively on lifelong learning and personal development issues. Ralph is the CEO of RN Digital Media Ent - a digital publishing & content marketing services platform he founded in 2017.

2 thoughts on “Piano and Drums: A Poem by Gabriel Okara”

    1. As you might be aware, diction generally refers to the poet’s choice of words and how appropriate those words/expressions are to the central theme of the poem. In Piano and Drums, the diction conforms very much to the structure of the poem. And this is built around the device known as contrast. Check out the words and expressions in the first stanza for example and you’ll realize they evoke images of Africa, its environment and culture. Then check out the lines in the next stanza and you will see words that speak of complex or alien ways and practices. Feel free to use the contact form, so we can continue with this interesting conversation, Ruth.

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