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COURTESY OF ATIKA SCHOOL
We can have positive or negative attitude towards something. When we like something we use pleasant language to describe it but when we dislike something we use unpleasant words to describe it. In the poem ‘ A baby is a European’ (14) the poet expresses his attitude about Europeans. He looks down on Europeans yet he does not dislike them. He accepts them but as children. This we see from the words used in the poem. We can define attitude into two:
Is the expression of the writers meaning by the use of language,
which says the direct opposite of his thought. In the book ‘Song of Lawino’ when Lawino calls Clementine Beautiful, she in fact means that she thinks Clementine is very ugly. Beautiful is therefore used ironically.
Is a bitter or wounding remark, which is often ironically worded. Sarcasm just refers to the tone of voice in which a remark has been made e.g when Lawino calls Clementine beautiful she is being sarcastic because she is bitter and contemptuous. In the poem ‘Building the Nation” (9) the whole tone of the poem is satirical. The title is ironic.
Mood and tone:
Mood is the condition someone is in and mood is usually expressed by the tone of voice one uses. If you want to see somebody in authority eg. Headmaster for a favour, you will not go to him when he is in a bad mood but you will wait until the day when he is in a good mood. But in poetry we don’t talk of bad and good mood. Instead we use words like happy, bitter, angry, violent, quiet, resigned, sad, pleasant, resentful, humorous etc.
In the poem, “The woman I married”(19) the mood is humorous and resi- gned. This can be established by the words used in the poem. He does not call her his wife but instead he calls her ‘the Woman I married’. He does not say she is a typist but says she bangs the typewriter, and now she bangs the crockery so that the house sounds like a factory. In this poem we see that he is not planning to send her away or discipline her in any way but he has just given up (resigned).
The poem, “Grass will grow; (20) is sad, even desperate. Tone is the voice used in a poem. It refer to the words in the poem.
(x) Stanza. Is a paragraph of lines in a poem.
I ask for tears
Do not send me moon hard madness
To lodge snug in my skull
I would you sent me hordes of horses
But do not break
The York of the moon on me.
Poem no.21. The Philosophers
‘Those who speak know nothing;
Those who know are silent’.
These words, as I am told,
Were spoken by Lao-Tzu.
If we were to believe that Lao-Tsu
Was himself one who knew,
How comes is that he wrote a book
Of five thousand words
What is poetry?
It is not easy to say what exactly poetry is. But poetry explores the possibility of language more vividly than prose. In poetry language is used in a powerful ways.
ODAMO: But then sir, what is poetry?
TEACHER: Why sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is, but it is not easy to tell what it is.
Poetry expresses language more powerfully than prose. Poetry can be compared to a palace if prose is a house. So just as a palace is more than a house, but it must be a house at least so also poetry is more than prose but it must still be language at least.
TECHNICAL DEVICES IN POETRY.
This includes: Rhythm, Rhyme, Alliteration, Assonance, Onomatopoeia, Deeper meaning and Symbolism; Imagery – metaphor – simile, Attitude – Satire, irony,
STUDYING ORAL LITERATURE.
How we can be exposed to Oral Literature.
Oral stories are told to us from a very early age. When we are old enough we start telling those stories ourselves. We attend various ceremonies where we listen to songs and experience various dances and other utterances and performances.
At funerals stories would be told to adults about spirits and the underworld.
In everyday conversation the elders use proverbs and imaginative language which qualify as Oral Literature.
Some samples of Oral Literature have been written in books which we can buy and read.
The mass media also present some programmes that are Oral Literature oriented. But sometimes we are hampered from being exposed to Oral Literature.
The occasions of performance are irregular and unsystematic. Also some people move to urban areas and grow up in a sort of vacuum as far as the African background is concerned. So they remain culturally rootless and in most cases ‘ape’ foreign cultures. So, to rediscover ourselves, we should study Oral Literature. For us to understand ourselves in the present time we should discover our roots.
Taban Lo Liyong’ says,’ just as we don’t want the Africa of our fore fathers forgotten, we also want the Africa of our grand children realized as well as living meaningfully in our times. He says that, ‘we are like a strange beast with three heads – one looks perpetually behind, one looks steadily under our feet and the other is poised to heavens dreamily.
In order to reach our rural people – who are the majority – and serve them effectively, we should have an understanding of oral literature which they still use to this day.
The study of oral literature is necessary as it is likely to expose us to some of the best creative productions of the human mind.
How to Study Oral Literature.
For a successfully study of anything one must have a direct access to it. So we should have direct contact with Oral Literature, ready to watch and listen to performances of oral literature.
Oral Literature cannot be seen as arts for arts sake. Whether narratives, song, proverbs or riddles, it relates to the culture of the people who create it; their beliefs, customs and accepted norms; their likes and dislikes.
A study of Oral Literature amounts to studying the society which creates it. This would involve field research.
Children were brought up according to the norms of their society through narratives, songs, proverbs and riddles.
Very young children (corresponding to our nursery kids today) were told.
There is a pot by the altar
That they begun to mould;
They finished the base
But the neck remains undone…
For they ran out of mud.
Who can find mud
Maybe if it were gold
Poem No. 19. The Woman I married
The woman I married
Is an out-right bone-shaker.
For a full decade
She had banged a typewriter
And now in substitution
Bangs the crockery
Until my house sounds like a factory.
The noise keeps her sane.
Poem No. 20. Grass Will Grow
If you should take my child Lord
Give my hands strength to dig his grave
Cover him with Earth
Lord send a little rain
For grass will grow.
If my house should burn down
So that the ashes sting the nostrils
Making the eyes weep
Then Lord send a little rain
For Grass will grow.
But Lord do not send me
MAURICE A NYAMOTI