Poetry Review: Summaries, Analyses and Editorial Notes on Three Poems

These analyses were conducted in the virtual presence of over 200 terrific creatives. They are the copyrighted products of the individual authors of the works and the Poetry Review comprised Okorite Joy Harry and Hussein Abdulbasit, headed by Peace Akinwale (Philip Peace),  A call for poetry submissions was made.

– August 11, 2020.


POEM ONE: “A dirge to Lethargy” | Patrick Chukwu Ifeanyi

This reads like a poem– like a dirge to the years

of wanting and wishing with folded arms.

Like the numbers of dream Michael caressed

on his lips & claimed after his Pastor’s prayers.

Beautiful dreams that never saw light,

that never breathe work– the air on which dreams live.

The rhythm of this dirge lacks the unison of a poem, perhaps,

it’s a sea that sings of ease and storms, of tempest and tides.

The river that floats forward eclipses century of struggles.

In the trajectory of its movement– every fight, every whirl

every turbulent effort of flowing knifes a star to its name.

For what is a river if not its victory over inertia?

Sometimes, some questions rumple the mind of a boy, like

“to what end was the eagle adorned with the crown among birds?”

But what makes an eagle is the choice to cremate its fears

 & lethargy on the pyre of self-belief & bury the ashes—

While flying and falling, failing and forging forward regardless.

For the glory of flight hymns a myriad of flapping of the wings

& of shouldering the cross for the hope of the crown–

this is the eagle’s gospel divesting itself into the body of a poem.

A REVIEW OF THE POEM

The refreshing ‘A Dirge To Lethargy’ metaphorically gives life to the years of tiredness and struggles in an individual’s life. There is reminiscence, regret, rethinking and re-emergence in the poem. It, however, reveals the weariness and struggles of the narrator over the years.

The poem opens with a similitude of prologue. The narrator declares that the poem reads like a poem—a song of sorrow ‘to the years of wanting and wishing with folded arms’. This introduction makes reference to why the poet uses ‘lethargy’, his mourner is introduced as one who makes wants and wishes with “folded arms”. That is desires without exactly working to achieve them. The next lines describe the “wants and wishes” like the number of dreams a person— Michael, claims on his lips alone ‘after his Pastor’s prayers’.

The next stanza sheds light on “Michael’s dreams” as we are told that these dreams never came through. They never work, they breathe only in “the air on which dreams live”. The mourner further declares that “this dirge” —the poem, lacks the coordination of a dirge. This line might have been put to place since the dirge lacks the actual form of a traditional dirge, the sadness, the grief of loss, the gloominess, rather as the mourner informs. It reveals the broken thematic occupation of the poem too; “it sings of ease and storms, of tempest and tides”.

As the preceding line invites imagery of nature, precisely a waterside, the next stanza continues this imagery as the mourner describes this waterside as a river that flows through “century of struggles”. In other words, the poem isn’t a dirge; it is in between becoming one, and not becoming. It discusses the years of struggles not exactly mourning them and the next lines expand these struggles, …  “Every fight, every whirl”. He describes every effort of trying to make a name since a river is nothing without its triumph over unwillingness. The stanza ends with the rhetorical question: “For what is a river if not its victory over inertia?”

The mourner moves somewhat out of himself as he recounts the questions that leap in the mind of a boy, an instance he gives, “to what end was the eagle adorned with the crown among birds?” He then answers this question concluding that it’s the eagle’s altitude that impacts the eaglet’s. In other words, the home has been made known to the eagle right from a young age.

This explanation reaches out to the next stanza, as since home for the eaglet is in the highest of places, despite ‘flying, falling and failing‘, it must keep moving forward to bury fears and fatigue on self-belief and move past memories of failing to never again visit it on and on till these struggles evolve the eaglet into a full winged eagle.

The next stanza continues to describe the eagle’s struggle of becoming. Its evolution and dedication to this routine with the hope of the crown. And this, the mourner describes as the “eagle’s gospel” and this becomes a poem written. The poem resolves the actuality of the poem as a dirge. However, the mourner triumphs at the end of his “lethargy”.


POEM TWO: Portrait of Pain | Dynamic Rahma

1.

Pain is a painted portrait on the walls of my heart;

With colours so striking you do not need

To blink to know it as you’re accustomed

Like the frowns on your mother’s face.

2.

Scars are trophies from past pain,

Monumental edifices buried in albums

Pain & scars are like thunder and rain

You can’t separate one from the other.

3.

My body is an insignia of pain—

A signature that doesn’t fade

I’m like a laughing gas—

I laugh so hard at mundane jokes

Because broken things laugh the hardest,

They do not know when next they will.

4.

I want to scrub this tag off my skin but

The tag itself says I’ve found a home here.

I’m a tearful doll that cringes and cry

An iron ore mould from seawater

I do not like that I flare like a conflagration

Nor do I like this lion that won’t be tamed,

I do not like that the hate you sow

Has found fertility.

5.

Look, pain is a syntax in my world

With colours; gloomy black and bloody red

Scars are sacrosanct to this syntax

I do not like that the hate you give

Is now a fertile soil for hate to thrive.

A REVIEW OF THE POEM

A portrait is an accurate depiction of a person, a mood, a feeling, etc. This definition is precisely the bricks that lay the background of the poem, “Portrait Of Pain“, which discusses numerically the various forms pain appears to the speaker.

In the first stanza, we see ‘pain’ as a painting on the walls of the speaker’s heart. One doesn’t need to strain to understand it. The speaker informs that “you’re accustomed (to it) like the frowns of your mother’s face”.

In the second stanza, we are introduced to marks pains leave behind, in the speaker’s words, — “scars“. We are made to see scars as reminders of past pains, as edifices—grand edifices. The speaker further likens pain and scars to thunder and rain, “they visit together”.

The third stanza sees the speaker go more personal as “my” is adopted in describing another form of pain which marks the speaker’s body it symbol—it own, ownership that wouldn’t want to fade. Pain bids the speaker to laugh and joke at mundane things as he believes that “broken things laugh the hardest because they do not know when next they will“.

In the fourth stanza, the speaker makes reference to the preceding stanza. She informs the reader that she would like to rub off the marks of pain. However, she adds that pain signs, “I’ve found a home here“. The speaker likens herself to a “tearful doll that cringes and cry” and an “iron ore mould from seawater“. She expresses displeasure at her inferno-like nature; she doesn’t want to be a “lion that won’t be tamed“.

The reference to ‘conflagration’ and ‘lion’ evokes something sort of fierce. Thus, the speaker creates here imagery of a fierce living; a result of the subject matter—pain.

The final stanza summarizes the intents of the speaker far. The speaker unfolds stanza five in a conversational nature. She notes that pain is a word which filters her world. This is explicit with the description of the colour of pain “gloomy black” and “bloody red“. The input of “gloomy” together with “black” and “bloody” with “red” depicts the core/depth of the speaker’s pain.

The poem ends with a repetition of a line in stanza 4. The speaker emphasizes, “I do not like that the hate you give / (has found) a fertile soil…

Inarguably, the strongest line of the poem, this line could either interpret as previously stated,—the speaker hints at another, probably, the cause of the pain. We can also resolve that the speaker refers to the ‘hate’ as a result of pain. The latter is quite logical since no man voluntarily chooses pain. The logicality of the latter, however, doesn’t interpret that the former cannot be.


POEM THREE: Candlelight (for Emmanuel Oboh, wilted celosia) | Ola W. Halim

—i ignite a candle for emmanuel—place it on the windowsill—pull the curtains apart—

—rain smells clog my head—the petrichor tatters—carrion shredded by its own bones—my thoughts are whirlwind trapped in aladdin’s orb—

—the wind—it yanks off twigs—rips buds in halvlets—chases flame trees to frozen rivulets—and i cannot shut out the sounds—eddying in my head—

—my candle melts on—wax falls on tin—like miniature avalanches rolling down precipices—leaves indentations on tin-top—

—and through pulled curtains—emerges emmanuel—

—laughing—all—over—again

—i think he’s crazy—because his laughter is out of place—sprouting, seemingly—like shameplants in deserts

—emmanuel is teaching a class—the students aren’t listening—and he doesn’t seem to care

—he’s drawing the mortal cycle on the board—his hand is trembling—he drops the chalk three times—no student chuckles

—none reminds him he hasn’t added death—to the end of the cycle—death—where arched lines join hurried ends—to slow beginnings

—i don’t know when my candle burns out—i am absorbed in alternate memories:

—emmanuel polishing his shoes—emmanuel picking skin smidgens from his teeth—emmanuel shedding debile slough—to become young again—like a student—adding death to his own cycle—though the teacher still neglects death—

—now, darkness breathes soothing air—and how relieved it makes me:

—darkness has no teeth to laugh—nor form—nor identity—darkness is incapable of jeering at a man crumbling into tears

—so i zip my teeth against the fabrics of my pillow—and cry—and cry again—and the rain denies me access to my own voice—

A REVIEW OF THE POEM

Candlelight embeds the different emotions the poet persona feels as his candle burns and exhausts itself. The poem expresses lots of dark images. From its title, we see gloominess, death, sadness and what have you.

The poem unfolds giving the knowledge of lighting a candle for ‘Emmanuel’ on a windowsill and drawing the curtains apart. Emmanuel is seen as the poem progresses as the only character mentioned and is somewhat ambiguous. Albeit, he is portrayed as a teacher.

The persona declares in the next lines of the poem that the “petrichor“, —the smell of rain ‘clogs his head‘ as this petrichor is also shattered by its carrion. The persona further describes his head as a whirlwind trapped in the Arab mythological Aladdin’s orb.

In the next stanza, he talks about the wind chasing flamed up trees to a place for them to cool off, “frozen streams”. From this point, we are reminded of the cause of these emotions, these events, the candle—we realise here it is still melting.

The next stanza leaves the events the candle births and focuses on the candle itself. Here, we see the candle burning, releasing its wax on a tin as indentations. Its burning is likened to ‘owls cascading to their deaths’ as the wax leaves drips on the ‘tin-top‘.

The next lines take us to Emmanuel. Here, he laughs over and over again. The narrator recounts that he cannot remember the cause of this laughter, he sees him as crazy as his laughter is out of place; hence, likened to a ‘shameplant in the desert’.

Emmanuel assumes the role of a teacher in the next stanza. We see a vision, as the narrator sees it, of Emmanuel in a class ‘amid burning candles‘. Although his students do not seem to listen, he ‘doesn’t seem to care‘. Teachers could be frustrated! & Find it difficult to carry their students along. Perhaps, Emmanuel here only glows in his last moments with no effort concerted to engage his students.

The speaker further informs us that Emmanuel draws a ‘mortal cycle’ on the board—his hand trembles as he drops the chalk thrice. Despite the hilarious gestures, none of his students laughs. And none reminds him that he hasn’t added death to the end of the biological mortal cycle. The next lines shed more lights on death as it referred to the ‘arched lines join (ing) hurried ends to slow beginning‘. ‘Hurried ends‘  could be understood as a form of premature passing away.

Amidst all these outpours, it seems our candle has consumed itself as the persona makes known in the next stanza. ‘I don’t know when the candle finishes burning’. The cause of his absenteeism of the candle’s exhaustion can be said to be of another vision/memory;  we see Emmanuel polishing his shoes, he returns to being a student & adds ‘death to his own cycle” though, Emmanuel as the teacher, still neglects death. This describes death as the end of mortality; a fact the teacher, the older Emmanuel, doesn’t admit.

As the poem nears its end, we are reminded that the candle has exhausted itself. The persona informs us that darkness breathes a lovable air and he is surprised at the relief this brings to him. Darkness accompanies facelessness, people have no form of identity. You may ask, why does this unidentifiable feature of darkness bring relief?

The hanging question seems to be answered in the next lines as the persona describes “darkness” as being capable of bringing a “full-grown man” to tears, and it’s only safe that he isn’t seen. At this point, we experience an “epiphany“, an illuminating realization as the speaker declares locking his teeth against the fabrics of his pillow to cry. However, the rain overwhelms his own voice— probably, due to its cracking thundering.

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