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Modern African Poetry and the African Predicament by R. N. Egudu (auth.)

By R. N. Egudu (auth.)

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E. pursuing an ideal honour and devotion), singing all the time. His fight is purely psychological, not physical, for he puts up an attitude which his oppressors would least expect and which would disconcert them. The emotional tension is palpable; to find 'motion' sweeter than 'rest' is in fact to have no rest. The conceit is as effective here as that used by John Donne when he wrote 'Until 1 labour, 1 in labour lie', in the poem 'Elegie: Going to Bed'. Like W. B. Yeats, Brutus is pursuing his mask, his anti-self or that which is least like him.

The priests and teachers alike use their religious positions to attract girls who give them carnal pleasure: They have sharp eyes For girls' full breasts; Even the padres Who are not allowed To marry Are troubled by health, Even the fat-stomached Who cannot see His belly-button Feels better When he touches A girl's breasts, And those who listen To the confessions Peep through the pot-hole And stab the breasts With their glances. Though these vices may not be peculiar to foreign priests, the point is that the whole religious system was transported to Africa by them.

Similarly he could only moan when he was refused a passport for leaving his country which he describes as 'a land of problems' where he has 'tasted contumely/because my crust is black and hard' ('Song for a Passport', p. 30). And in 'Identity' (p. 75) he sings of the futility which punctuates his life. Even the 'urges' that are natural and 'fashionable' tum 'sterile' in him. And when he 'vaguely' declines some gentlemen's invitation to homosexuality, he sees it as want of selfconfidence and his general inadequacy: Can I speak of probity, who now work for the garbage man, stuffing the bin full of tissue paper, sugar packets ...

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