CHRISTOPHER OKIGBO AND THE MOONGLOW

‘’ I, Okigbo, town crier, together with my iron bell ‘’ this is the last line to this unprecedented poem, Hurrah of thunder. This line is a confession to the poet as someone who was profoundly sublimed to his own oeuvre.

In the above corpus, his artistry identified his prowess amid his peers in the early 1960 to poetry because he knew the kernels of his art— and that it is poetry; and similarly, that is the reason why the recondite imagery towards this poetry collection is fascinating ‘’ MOONGLOW and other poems ‘’

Hence, the collection has variety of poems that imbue what the poet described from his early year at the University of Ibadan, while the second phase of the collection takes us to the trivial of being an adult poet with poems that are presumably modernist; with his style of language, also influx his poetic transcendence to the last phase of the collection. This poetry collection is adherently a journey of confession, to passage, and distance to thunder which the poet believed were basically part of his existence.

The proem to the collection is vividly written to address the nomenclature of the poet during his early years as a seer of his own life; and blithely, it is mirrored reflection for him to see himself as son of Mother Idoto. Thus, the first poem under the labyrinths, ‘’ The Passage ‘’ deals with the theme of ritual cleansing and return of innocence of a prodigal man returning as a penitent and purity consequence through divine poetic inspiration.

Before YOU, mother Idoto,
naked I stand;
before your watery presence, a prodigal

However, this quatrain is an initiation for the poet to stream. Okigbo was a modernist by vocation, he stood more comfortably in avant-garde tradition for English poetry than most twentieth-century African poets. Therefore, his poems look more metaphorical than other broken lines in African poetry. He had the deepest interpretation to all his poems, like the Moonglow metamorphoses as his early poems for a youngster poet who studied Greek and Latin.

Here ever your penance as you measure
cup after cup your strength,
and Time,
day after day its length

This made him to be an inventor who had created an exhilarating approach to his poesy, which is the constellation of his words and synonyms.
This particular poem, is indebted to the poet to describe himself as a modernist with new aesthetic that transcended him writing a poem to an Irish poet, LAMENT OF THE MASK (for WB Yeast)

For the time has come O Poet,
To descant your praise-names….

Okigbo had a haunting mind toward his rhetoric and nothing like glossolalia but he was a kind obdurate poet toward this Irish poet as an African modernist poet who pictured new poetic lexicon. Indeed, reading this collection has made me to understand that Okigbo was a genius; who used his own indigenous style to create new voice to poems above the normal spectrum before he dropped his life-ennobling pen to pick the life-annihilation gun between ethic chauvinism and universal humanism.

In this collection, the section for the ‘’ LIMIT ‘’ is where the poet described his traditional prowess to his European peers when he had convincingly written a lengthy poem like T.S Eliot: ‘’Waste Land’’ and Hart Crane: ‘’The Bridge’’. Therefore, this section is where he understood his talismanic decadence to gun like Wole Soyinka wrote such in his collection to Ogun ‘’ Idanre and other poems ‘’ which is apt to what Okigbo had done in this section as an attribution to his own death as a rebel during the secession.

Nothing suggest accident
where the beast
is finishing her rest….

Although, in another section to this collection ‘’ DISTANCE ‘’ the poet prophecized his own death with enjambment ‘’ I was the sole witness of my homecoming…‘’ when I read furthermore I knew the poet was talking to himself in a macabre language. It was indeed a lesson of belligerence and fury.

This poetry collection is indeed the harmonious voice of Christopher Okigbo because the poems have relationship to each other in terms of composition and thought towards mysticism. He was a poet that had reckoned his life to a subject of modernism. It was adherently his way to understand the obnoxiousness of language to the postscript section, which is titled: ‘’PATH OF THUNDER’’

Okigbo shared a breathless enthusiasm to fulminology because the poem is directly speaking to thunder. And this somewhat shows mockery to the cultural myth says when someone steals, thunder could disgrace the person in public, with the stolen item, and perhaps, this is what Christopher Okigbo had written in ‘’ ELEGY FOR ALTO

‘’The Imagination Okigbo gave to this poem is an accompaniment of the drum because it is fluid. It has the coherence to be called a mythopoetic due to his figurative lines that hide so many meanings when reading this quixotic collection.

Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo was born on 16th August 1932 in Ojoto, eastern Nigeria at the time still under British colonial rule. He was the fourth child, out of five siblings. He was admitted to the University of Ibadan, like other major writers such as Wole Soyinka, Elechi Amadi, Chinua Achebe and John Pepper Clark. Though he set out for a medical career, he soon changed to study Greek and Latin. As editor-in-chief to the University Weekly, he translated Greek and Latin authors

Lastly, this poetry collection has an epic audacity and it is compelling like how Nigerian-British novelist, Ben Okri described the book ‘’ everybody should know Okigbo’s lines by heart ‘’ Yes, anybody who loves to read an experienced poet of the twentieth century should go and read this collection of captivating lines.

© Anikulapo Macmillan

Published by Adekunle Writes

Adekunle is the author of a poetry collection, 'Arise Nigeria'. A young writer, Adekunle is a correspondent at Church Times Newspaper and Contributing Editor for Interviews at OPEN: Journal of Arts and Letters. He's the recipient of Daily Trust Newspaper's Poet of the week, January 2019. Follow me on Instagram on https://instagram.com/adekunlewrites https://platform.linkedin.com/badges/js/profile.jsAdekunle Adewunmi

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