Collected Poems- Chinua Achebe

For my birthday month of September I’ve decided to read books by some of my favourite authors (a list that includes George Orwell, Marcel Proust, Anais Nin, George Eliot, Toni Morrison, James Joyce, Aime Cesaire, Italo Calvino, Alice Walker and Chinua Achebe) .

2013-09-04 23.17.14

Chinua Achebe was first on my list. I found a copy of Achebe’s collected poems at the library quite by chance. It’s a thin book with less than 90 pages. The book was split into five sections: Prologue, Poems About War, Poems Not About War , Gods, Men and Others, and Epilogue.  I enjoyed these simple poems that dealt with various topics, including war, love, African life and mythology.

In 1966, Achebe says:

“Absentminded

our thoughtful days

sat at dire controls

and played indolently.”

The section entitled Poems About War discussed the Biafran War. “Christmas in Biafra” was especially poignant:

“This sunken-eyed moment wobbling

Down the rocky steepness on broken

Bones slowly fearfully to hideous

Concourse of gathering sorrows in the valley

Will yet become in another year a lost

Christmas irretrievable in the heights.”

I also liked  Pine Tree in Spring, which was dedicated to Leon Damas:

“Pine tree

flag bearer

of green memory

across the breach of a desolate hour

Loyal tree

that stood guard

alone in austere emeraldry

over Nature’s recumbent standard

Pine tree

lost now in the shade

of traitors decked out flamboyantly

marching back unabashed to the colors they betrayed

Fine tree

erect and trustworthy

what school can teach me

your silent, stubborn fidelity?”

 

All in all, a nice poetry collection that made me wish Achebe had written more.

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9 thoughts on “Collected Poems- Chinua Achebe

  1. Those are some truly beautiful lines. Thanks for sharing, Rowena. I’ll try and procure this book for a time I maybe in the mood for poetry. And um happy birthday in advance? 🙂

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