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Songs of Sorrow by Kofi Awoonor Dzogbese Lisa has treated me thus It has led me among the sharps of the

forest Returning is not possible And going forward is a great difficulty The affairs of this world are like the chameleon faeces Into which I have stepped When I clean it cannot go. I am on the world’s extreme corner, I am not sitting in the row with the eminent But those who are lucky Sit in the middle and forget I am on the world’s extreme corner I can only go beyond and forget. My people, I have been somewhere If I turn here, the rain beats me If I turn there the sun burns me The firewood of this world Is for only those who can take heart That is why not all can gather it. The world is not good for anybody But you are so happy with your fate; Alas! the travelers are back All covered with debt. Something has happened to me The things so great that I cannot weep;

I have no sons to fire the gun when I die And no daughter to wail when I close my mouth I have wandered on the wilderness The great wilderness men call life The rain has beaten me, And the sharp stumps cut as keen as knives I shall go beyond and rest. I have no kin and no brother, Death has made war upon our house; And Kpeti’s great household is no more, Only the broken fence stands; And those who dared not look in his face Have come out as men. How well their pride is with them. Let those gone before take note They have treated their offspring badly. What is the wailing for? Somebody is dead. Agosu himself Alas! a snake has bitten me My right arm is broken, And the tree on which I lean is fallen. Agosi if you go tell them, Tell Nyidevu, Kpeti, and Kove That they have done us evil; Tell them their house is falling And the trees in the fence Have been eaten by termites;

That the martels curse them. Ask them why they idle there While we suffer, and eat sand. And the crow and the vulture Hover always above our broken fences And strangers walk over our portion. POETIC ANALYSIS Songs of sorrow is a poem that is divided into two parts with different themes. The first part of the poem portrays the poverty state at which the poet finds himself, while the second part is a dirge that portrays the lamentation of the poet over the death of his household and neighbours. The first stanza of the poem starts with a blame on the ancestor that is featured as Dzogbese Lisa, whom the poet believe that he his the determiner of is life. The poet says that his ancestor has treated him bad by leading him “among the sharps of the forest” The forest as used by the poet is symbolic to the world and the word “sharps” indicates a particular place where things are difficult. The poet furthers by saying that his “returning is not possible and going forward is a great difficulty”. The two lines imply that any attempt he makes to change his status is very difficult. Using simile, the poet represents the “affairs of this world” with the “faeces of the chameleon”, which he stepped on but when he tries to “clean, it cannot go” The second stanza is made of sestet that describes the poet’s position in the world. He sees himself “on the world extreme corner”, as he his unable to be seen or associated with the influential people in the society. The poet explains here that social stratification could be high, middle and low by saying that some who did not fall in the extreme corner like him are lucky because they “sit in the middle and forget” who are less privilege. He says that he “can only go beyond” his status and that would make him also forgetful.

The last stanza of this part of the poem starts with a call by the poet to his people that has “been somewhere” trying to alleviate his poverty status, but if he “turns here, the rain beats” him and if he also “turns there, the sun burns” him. The poet now concludes by saying in a didactic manner that “the fire wood of this world {i.e. the enjoyment of life} is for only who can take heart” and persevere: he philosophises that “that is why not all can gather it” because “the world is not good for anybody”. The only way out as suggested by the poet is to “be happy with ones fate”. He back this statement by sighting example that even those who travelled in search of betterment are back, “all covered with debt” II The second part of the poem is all about lamentation that exposes the mourning of the poet over his departed loved ones. He starts by calling the attention of the reader to what has happened to him. He described it as so depressing that he “cannot weep”. He reveals what happen to him by stating clearly that he “has no sons to fire that gun” when he dies “and no daughters to wail when he closes his mouth”. By the virtue of this happening, he concluded that he has “wandered in wilderness”, meaning that he has come to the world for no purpose and suffered for no reason. He admits that he “shall go beyond and rest” since he even has “no kin and brother”. Death has he says, “has made war upon” their house. After the lamentation and mourning over his siblings, he also mourns the death of “Kpeti’s” household as he his no more. He describes his house as empty and “only the broken fence stands and those who dared not look in his face have come out has men”. Employing apostrophe, he called on the departed souls “to take not” of how their offspring are being maltreated. He further asks rhetorically asks rhetorically as it had occurred that “what is the wailing for?” and replies that another person is dead. Agosu as he mentioned his dead. With his expression over the occurrence of the death of Agosu that

his “right arm is broken” and that “a snake has bitten” him, it signifies that he was a person of great importance to him. The last stanza of the poem further depicts how bad he felt with the loss of Agosu stating that “the tree on which” he “leans is fallen”. He also employs apostrophe by saying that when Agosu gets to his ancestor or heaven, he should “tell Nyidevu, Kpeti and Kove that they have done” those left behind evil. The poem was brought to an end by the poet giving the description of how the houses are, explaining that the “trees in the fence have been eaten by termite” and that “strangers walk over their portion” THEME 1. Poverty 2. Grieve 3. Death 4. Betrayal 5. Loneliness TONE Lament and loneliness MOOD The poem has the mood of sympathy and empathy DICTION Though the poet started with a kind of parable, yet his use of language is very mild and easy to understand and also employed symbols to drive home his point.

FIGURE OF SPEECH Rhetorical Question: “what is the wailing for?” Enjabment: And those who dared not look in his face have come out as men” {line 14 – 15} Metaphor: “I have wandered in the wilderness” {line 5 part two} Personification: “The rain beats me” {line 15 part 1}

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