the same level of clarity


The new lucidity and public commitment, it has been said, provided a model for eminent practitioners such as Tanure Ojaide and Niyi Osundare.These comments are only partly true. "Path of Thunder" was written as a populist reaction to a peculiar situation. Sunday Anozie evaluates the performance correctly when he points out that the collection of poems is "a means of simply describing popular feelings and aspirations in the idiom of the people" (178). Heywood adds that some of the poems in the collection (which was published posthumously) "might not have met Okigbo's own stringent earrings clearance criteria for inclusion among the 'final version' of Labyrinths" (149). When Okigbo says of the January 1966 insurrectionists

Bring them out, we say, bring them outhe is pleading with government, in plain terms, to release from detention the rebel soldiers who have become public heroes. He is telling not bodying forth experience. The level of imaginative engagement with the linguistic medium is no higher than what we find in Wole Soyinka's propaganda sketches "Beyond the Lights Out" and "Before the Deluge," written about the same time. Okigbo exploits the forms, imagery, and the tonalities of the oriki in these exercises. But his imagination is not creatively engaged.

There are important distinctions to be made when we speak tiffany jewelry about the African poetic tradition. All traditional African poems are not of the same mode, the same quality, and the same level of clarity. What astonished and delighted Okigbo in the Yoruba poetic tradition is not the fine rhetoric of praise in the oriki, properly speaking. It is the imaginative freedom, immediacy, and freshness of imagery and an unbridled wrestle with the linguistic medium in the inherited canonic texts of hunters' poetry, ijala. To appreciate Okigbo's enthusiasm and understand how his study in Cambridge House of Pound, eliot, mallarmé, and Senghor was assimilated into a new passion for African poetic forms, it would be useful to look closely at a few lines from the ijala of the elephant previously cited:

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