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Poetry: “Piano and Drums” by Gabriel Okara

13 May, 2009

Here’s the poem:

Piano and Drums

When at break of day at a riverside
I hear the jungle drums telegraphing
the mystic rhythm, urgent, raw
like bleeding flesh, speaking of
primal youth and the beginning
I see the panther ready to pounce
the leopard snarling about to leap
and the hunters crouch with spears poised;

And my blood ripples, turns torrent,
topples the years and at once I’m
in my mother’s laps a suckling;
at once I’m walking simple
paths with no innovations,
rugged, fashioned with the naked
warmth of hurrying feet and groping hearts
in green leaves and wild flowers pulsing.

Then I hear a wailing piano
solo speaking of complex ways in
tear-furrowed concerto;
of far away lands
and new horizons with
coaxing diminuendo, counterpoint,
crescendo. But lost in the labyrinth
of its complexities, it ends in the middle
of a phrase at a daggerpoint.

And I lost in the morning mist
of an age at a riverside keep
wandering in the mystic rhythm
of jungle drums and the concerto.

Gabriel Okara

[Source: Touched With Fire: an anthology of poems, compiled by Jack Hydes, p.27]

Piano and Drums is quite clearly a poem about the cultural dichotomy of traditional and Western cultures in post-colonial Africa, but the raw emotion of the poem makes it an expression of confusion that anyone tied to more than one culture (which is a lot of people in this day and age of globalisation) can relate to. Even failing that, the imagery of the poem is powerful enough to express his confusion – we can almost feel Okara’s indecision seeping through the page.

Okara’s metaphors are simple but fitting: the drums represent traditional African life, while the piano represents the Western world. What I love so much about the writing in this poem is how his reaction to each “instrument” is portrayed. Both the first stanza (drums) and the third stanza (piano) are arranged in a similar way. There are essentially three parts to each one. First, we hear the sound of the instrument. In the case of the drums, it has a “mystic rhythm” that is “urgent” and “raw”. As for the piano, it is said to be “wailing” and “a tear-furrowed concerto” is being played. We get an impression that while it is seductive, it is far more complex and multi-layered. Next, we find what the music “speaks of”. The drums speak of primal life. The piano, on the other hand, speaks of “complex ways” and of “far away lands and new horizons”. Each stanza closes with his base reaction to hearing each instrument. The drums induce memories and images of hunting in a primal lifestyle, and the simple life with natural beauty surrounding him that he can lead in that culture. The piano, while seductive, turns it to be too complicated for itself.

The expression of those ideas only works on the level it does because of the way each line of the poem flows into the other. Although it appears simplistic, exposition is handled very well here, in a way that many authors of prose could learn from. As the poem begins, the drum beats recall in him the primal nature of traditional life as a hunter-gatherer. The placing of the word “telegraphing” here is interesting due to its difference from the rest of the diction in the stanza. It conveys to the reader a subtle feeling that Okara is no longer part of the beating of the drum; it is implied to be a kind of message  – although it brings out raw and fresh emotion in him, it is telegraphed, not played in all its purity.

As the hunters stand poised to take action, Okara’s memory shifts from a situation of primal aggression to memories of his childhood. He revels in remembrance of being in his “mother’s laps a suckling”. Here there are “no innovations”; paths are shaped by the pulse of life in all its simplicity and glory.

However, his love of the drumming is not strong enough to prevent his distraction. In a mere moment, his focus is on the “wailing piano / solo”. The complexity of the piano is seductive; the “far away lands” and “new horizons” present a counterpoint to the simplicity of his reminiscing of traditional life – but its complexities reach a point where it stops abruptly, lost in itself.

It might sound at this point as if Okara has already made up his mind to follow the path of the drums, but he still finds himself lost. This confused me the first time I read the poem, but on re-reads it makes perfect sense. Despite the fact that the piano seems to crumble upon itself, he is still seduced by it – its arrest at a “daggerpoint” almost adds to its layered and complex nature, which is what attracted Okara to it in the first place.

The last stanza, seemingly calmer and more restful in its rhythm than the first three, feels to me as if fueled with raw, pure emotion. He is lost, wandering aimlessly as the music of the two instruments meld around him. Confusion surrounds him and, for the moment, he succumbs to it.


I always got the feeling that this poem was the kind that would be interpreted slightly differently by each reader. I also wonder whether I love it so much only because I can relate to it to a small extent. So, go on, leave a comment. Tell me what you think.

179 Comments leave one →
  1. Ladi Gbajumo permalink
    10 June, 2009 3:50 am

    I will like to agree with your interpretation of the poem as a man totally confused between western culture and African culture.
    One of my best poems till date,the use of excellent literary languages and figures of speech is un marched in my book till date.
    I throw my hat to Gabriel okara on should fantastic brain of though.
    Literature at its best.

  2. Kerry Pocock permalink
    8 August, 2009 9:39 pm

    I can’t say I loved the poem at first, but it has drawn me in, if that is possible? I see it as more than just comparing traditional African life with the western world, but with all people… a choice between the old, simplistic ways of life and the modern, fast pace world of internet, facebook, appliances etc…
    We’ve gone from a very social world to an anti-social world where we get together with friends over the internet. Where is the simplistic way of life – getting together with people, learning social skills and learning form the old and wise. Now, if I don’t like what you saying – I go off line. We tend to long for the old, fun ways of living ( get togethers, picnics, riding bikes etc…) but compelled, as if “at a dagger point” to join the rest of the world in the lonely world of cyber space.

    • Ashmin permalink
      20 November, 2012 9:36 pm

      What is the main theme of this poem

      • Francis Mould permalink
        19 May, 2014 6:57 am

        Conflict of culture

        • 7 October, 2018 3:48 am

          please discuss the treatment of cultural conflict in the poem piano and drums

    • bolanle permalink
      9 September, 2019 5:03 pm

      I really love this standpoint of yours. thumbs up.

  3. 10 November, 2009 3:10 am

    I like the interpretation of this poem.This is great work.To Okara you are poetically endowed Imust confess this.Well done.

  4. mofiyinfoluwa permalink
    11 November, 2009 2:49 am


    • mofiyinfoluwa permalink
      11 November, 2009 2:52 am


    • sofi permalink
      25 November, 2010 10:52 pm

      I agree!!!!! YOU ARE RIGHT!!!!! this poem STINKS!

      • ALFRED BENJAMIN BAIDEN permalink
        16 May, 2012 9:09 am

        I wonder why a human being would describe this poem as a stinking one. I think you need to identify yourself properly. For all we know, you are a racist.

        • 10 September, 2012 5:52 pm

          i agree… though I was not an african I have felt the beauty of the poem….. we have used the poem in our afro-asian literature program.. ijt ius part of my course and I found it so nice to read and analyze… long-live to all the african writter.. keep up the good work….

          • 16 March, 2016 5:29 pm

            I love this, people should have this kind of trail of thought.

          • Vera permalink
            1 May, 2018 11:49 pm

            I love yout words

        • peter jr permalink
          30 April, 2015 7:27 pm

          d person who say this poem stinks shud write his own

      • Bolatito permalink
        26 May, 2017 4:39 am

        You do not known the meanig

  5. 2 December, 2009 5:18 am

    The poem waz of great help in my research, a grade 3 category

  6. 28 December, 2009 4:39 pm

    what is the mood of the poem?

  7. Omolola permalink
    20 March, 2010 7:29 pm

    The poem is basically talking of modernism against tradition……………..sees western rule as being strange.

  8. omaha permalink
    4 May, 2010 6:39 pm

    what would you think about the interpretation that it is a comparison between human beings and the animal world??

    first stanza panther/leopard hunter.. both powerful

    second stanza baby flowers.. both innocent

    third stanza as an expression of confusedness of the speaker.. –> hunting.. human kill animals although they are so similar etc…

    last stanza: similar to beginning of the first stanza.. repetition.. always starts over again.. that there is no hope that it will ever stop.. mystic rhythm= the piano (humans) and the drums (= animals) fit to each other i.e. result in a rhythm. but why are they still killing = central message

    very thankful for any comments

    • Kafumba permalink
      12 November, 2017 4:07 am

      Is this the interpretation of of each stanza?

  9. sebo permalink
    4 May, 2010 9:53 pm

    I got this poem for my English paper 1 exam in the IB today. From what I have read, it seems that the commentary I wrote was not far off from the actual meaning. Great poem overall.

    • omaha permalink
      4 May, 2010 9:56 pm

      so did I… just checking how far off my interpretation is…

  10. sebo permalink
    4 May, 2010 10:11 pm

    Personally, I think this poem could portray many images which could be far from the truth of what the poet intended. Though, for the IB there is no “right” or “wrong” answer as it is your own interpretation and as long as you have backed up your ideas and thoughts with explanations, you can always get a good grade.

    • omaha permalink
      5 May, 2010 2:41 am

      hahaha ok cheers. good luck in maths tomorrow…

  11. Sebo Fish permalink
    5 May, 2010 2:44 am

    I got exactly what is written here, however what i believe that the poem was, additionally about was the the drums weren’t from africa but from south america. I deduced this by the use of concerto (a latin based word) also panthers and leopards are found in rain forests i.e. south america. However leopards can be found in Africa. But also i wrote how it discusses the transformation of the author. However i do have a friend who discussed this poem to be the birth process… A very valid interpretation i might add if you read the poem carefully…

  12. 5 May, 2010 2:49 am

    Mhm, your friend must be a genius! I have just re-read the poem and find that interpretation to be completly valid. This poem continuously refers to the early phases of life!

    What is his name, his email??

  13. IB Student permalink
    5 May, 2010 3:36 am

    I have written my IB English A1 Standard Level Paper 1 Commentary on this today and I thought it was an amaising poem to analyse. The use of language, personification and other literary features really conveyed the spirit of the Western World…

    • paul permalink
      5 May, 2010 4:20 am

      Well done, seems to me you captured the essence of this piece. Good luck with your grades. P.

  14. Laurence permalink
    5 May, 2010 3:51 am

    I agree on the surface with your original appraisal. I just had an exam with this poem as the extract under scrutiny, and i came to a different conclusion. The music is a metaphor for the life of a close friend of the speaker. One who he grew up with (second stanza), but who as they separated, lost faith in his own existence (lost in the labyrinth of his own complexity) and ended his jerking life upon a dagger point. The telegraphed bloody message, is a true message, the message delivered of the suicide.

  15. IB Student permalink
    5 May, 2010 5:20 am

    If anyone is interested to read what Okara has to say about his own poem, I found an interesting extract of the interview on

    Here the part of him talking about Piano and Drums:

    AZUONYE: I’d like to turn back to your poems, if I may… We are very fond of reading certain poems, either because of the magic of their lyricism or whatever else individual students find fascinating. One of the poems that my students and I have particularly enjoyed is Piano and Drums. I have often wondered whether you find this poem as fascinating as the rest of us, and if so, could you tell us why?

    OKARA: Well, that particular poem is about change—change brought about by the West and its encounter with our indigenous civilizations. By that I mean, the impact of Western ways on our own indigenous ways. In the first part of the poem, I was listening to the drums and thinking old ways and so on, you know. And then in the second part, I am listening to the piano….

    AZUONYE: The wailing piano music…

    OKARA: And then the music stops at a dagger-point; by that, I mean the fights, the dissensions, the tension going on in the Western hemisphere—Western countries—the wars going on there:

  16. saman fernando permalink
    22 May, 2010 1:20 pm

    its a brilliant work by Okara.

  17. 25 November, 2010 10:56 pm

    Hi! my name is Mary Palazon and i wanted to tell you that on saturday i am getting married and i have chosen this poem (which i added music to iT) to go into church! all followers of Gabriel Okara are invited!!!!

  18. Rose Oliver permalink
    2 March, 2011 3:10 am

    i an a really big fan of Okara and love most of his poems. i think they are easy to understand.

  19. 19 March, 2011 2:39 am

    Job well done. That’s a great work and it will really help those who need information about this work.Okara is really great.

  20. docs4real permalink
    7 April, 2011 6:37 pm

    l luv d poem,it’s really captivating.i must say a big well done 2 d poet b’cos d poet emphasise more on culture….okara u ‘re great

  21. Aman S Imani permalink
    1 May, 2011 3:04 pm

    I loved your interpretation of the poem. The interpretation is profound and tackles myriad aspects of the poem.
    The poem is brilliantly written. It draws the readers attention and makes the reader’s mind grapple with the meaning of the poem for hours on end.

    In conclusion, brilliant literature from Okara and extraordinary criticism by Kumarhk.

  22. foli permalink
    26 February, 2012 7:20 pm

    its nice but don’t know the meaning

  23. 13 March, 2012 2:17 am

    I did read the poem for the first time today @ school damn it was one trick of a poem but as I went through it again I realised it was more beautiful with words kinda strange to me

  24. Tonderai permalink
    13 March, 2012 2:26 am

    Whoo,,Actually i was pretty much confused when i first read the poem but after going through it again and again,the sense of it came out and the result,,i jst fell in love with it!

  25. Olive olovely permalink
    19 March, 2012 3:26 am

    That is perfect,its exactly what i was looking for

  26. Chawes permalink
    30 April, 2012 7:25 pm

    Great poem!!!!!

    16 May, 2012 9:02 am

    This is a great poem by all standards. I really love it.

  28. 26 June, 2012 9:49 pm

    There is no such definitive thing as a panther, and the cats that generally are described as such live in the Americas NOT Africa. Accordingly, anyone with a smidgeon of knowledge of the animal kingdom coming to this poem with no preconceptions – particularly regarding geography – would find it illogical to ascribe its autochthony to Africa, despite its author’s avowed intent. A more logical analysis – from an “unseen” point of view, which is the context of its setting in an IB English exam – would be a dual allegory of a both a person growing up and having at some critical point to deal with unfamiliar complexity (and perhaps retreating from the challenge) and a less developed country (African, Central/South American, or even Asian/Australasian) being faced with the difficulties of integration into a global community of greater sophistication. Pep (Unless of course, the author is deliberately dragging in an intentional but incorrect ambiguity regarding the USA revolutionary leftist organisation.)

  29. 11 July, 2012 8:05 pm

    I want to know Okara’s handling of any major trend in this poem.

  30. anitha permalink
    21 September, 2012 9:39 pm

    it is very useful for searchers.thank u

    18 October, 2012 8:57 pm


  32. 2 November, 2012 10:26 am


  33. Zaza K. Roberts permalink
    8 December, 2012 7:51 pm

    I am doing the poem now in English 409-Seminar in African Literature. It’s really interesting. My teacher says exactly what you have posted above. Your summary has added flavor and enriched my knowledge. Thanks!

  34. maryam permalink
    5 January, 2013 5:30 pm

    Piano aπϑ drums is a beautifully expressive poem. Any ordinary reader should get it’s meaning but reading your post makes it more meaningful. You did a really good job here. Thanks.

  35. Naseeru Taneemu Annuree permalink
    20 January, 2013 10:47 pm

    Wow!! Nice work… I love your explanation of this poem. I found it helpful when I thought I could not. Thanks for sharing with us. Looking for more from you… Thanks.

  36. hamoud hussein permalink
    10 February, 2013 7:32 pm

    your analysis is good as it has assisted me to get a base for intensive reading

  37. 8 March, 2013 9:23 pm

    I just want to know the themes used in the poem

  38. 24 April, 2013 8:11 pm

    the poem is so interesting to read what ever time i fined the poem with my eye’s the writer of the poem Sir,Okara really explain about our culture with it.the sound of the drums make me to unerstand where we the Africans are coming from,the piano make the diference that there are some part the world people did not need to struggle what ever thing they want to do that’s the western world am talking about.Now lets come back to ourself’s we always do things with power,strength and alot’s of energy not thinking of any technology ideas.

  39. 20 July, 2013 4:08 pm

    very well interpreted, I stumbled upon this page, trying to help my niece complete her assignment on this poem ! and i enjoyed reading this ! thanks for sharing !

  40. Paul Ayakpam - Kaduna Nigeria permalink
    31 December, 2013 4:52 pm

    The poem ”Piano & Drum” Is a poem that is quite interesting any time and day to recite.
    Your sense of analysis is very well appreciated from me because it gives an indept explaination of d stanzas.Bravo

  41. Agbese Dan permalink
    5 January, 2014 4:37 pm

    The poem is all about the “clash of culture.” How the coming of Europeans to Africa have made Africans to be confuse about life. Because the wetern way of living is more complex and hard to understand. The poem is a question on the cultural clash of both European culture and African culture and its effects on Africans. The piano is the symbol of European culture, while the drum is symbol of African culture and its jungles. Its a wonderful poem, it brings to fore in my mind on the need of we Africans to go to our background to start teaching in our local dialects in schools and see if we wont produce the world sages. Because it will make learning more easy and interesting.

  42. Essiet Ani permalink
    15 January, 2014 5:19 pm

    It is really a good poem

  43. poshly katumba permalink
    22 January, 2014 6:59 pm

    Hope this analysis earns me good marks

  44. Idugboe clem permalink
    23 January, 2014 8:55 pm

    very interesting

  45. Norbert Dashe permalink
    29 January, 2014 7:19 am

    A beautiful commentary befitting of a well crafted poem of high aesthetic value and deep meaning . Talking about the use of imageries, other literary devices and choice of words Okara is a genius. The stanzas of the poem are well structured into an organised line of thoughts. Eversince I had developed interest in poetry I fell in luv with this poem. Your commentary sums up how I had conceived the poem.Kudos.

  46. Norbert Dashe permalink
    29 January, 2014 7:26 am

    A beautiful commentary befitting of a well crafted poem of high aesthetic value and deep meaning . Talking about the use of imageries, other literary devices and choice of words Okara is a genius. The stanzas of the poem are well structured into an organised line of thoughts. Eversince I had developed interest in poetry I fell in luv with this poem. Your commentary sums up how I had conceived the poem.Kudos for the add-ons.

  47. Yemi permalink
    5 February, 2014 12:34 pm

    This Poem can also be related to the colonisation, since the author is an African. That is, before the colonisation, after and now.

  48. Mark Amadu Kamara permalink
    16 March, 2014 1:43 am

    Thepoem to me is a contrast of the African culture and practices (The Drums) marred by WESTERNIZATION (the piano). Before European filtration to Africa, we live a simple yet satisfiable life. It was only when colonization was extended to various African countries that our way of life was tampered with, and we were left in the middle, confusednot knowing the right beat to dance to…

  49. 27 March, 2014 9:09 pm

    a realy nice piece of work, it gave me anice moment enjoying poem! cheerz to that!

  50. 13 May, 2014 4:03 am

    i will say this peom is one of the best i have come across,the stanzas are well organized.i think the author is a genius,the inspiration is there,readers please enjoy as you read thanks.

  51. Joana Asare Bediako permalink
    15 May, 2014 3:34 am


  52. Joana Asare Bediako permalink
    15 May, 2014 3:35 am

    The porm is reali inspirational

  53. 28 May, 2014 7:29 am

    this poem is very important to the africans and to me also because iam studying african literature at the university in algeria and of course it was very ambigious before reading these commentaries but now i understand it wellllll

  54. 28 May, 2014 7:30 am

    adding to all that i have the exam tomorrow in the african literature soooo !!!!

  55. Philex kiprotich permalink
    3 June, 2014 10:30 pm

    Quite true, it handles the clash between the western and African culture.

  56. victory olaniyi permalink
    21 June, 2014 7:29 pm

    thank u okara, this poem really help me alot especially in my assignment, i gain alot from it

  57. Keteku amponsah daniel permalink
    15 August, 2014 7:26 pm

    De ae

  58. OWANIYI BECKY permalink
    25 August, 2014 12:33 am


  59. Philipiliya permalink
    26 August, 2014 2:05 am

    Permit me to interpret this poem with our contempory struggle to live a holy life that is, a between obedient to God and obedient to satan. despite the fact that man knows the power of god but allowed himself to be an instrument of satan.this has been the major chellenges man now face in his heart by sitting on the fence.the sound was continues temptation we face from the satan. or confusion on which religion to believe.

  60. Ahmed Bolaji A permalink
    8 September, 2014 9:19 pm

    to my understanding, Okara is bias, prefering African culture to Western culture. This is glaring enough when he qualified the African drum with jungle(line 2) and the Western piano with wailing(stanza 3 line 2). The poem is outstandingly good

  61. Mark Amadu Kamara permalink
    5 October, 2014 10:14 pm

    I was pondering on the Piano and its affected sophistication…Looking at the Piano of modern day, you will realise that it has all beats including the Drum and all local African instruments! All one needs is to select the beat he/she wants. This is a symbolic explication of what Western world is for Africa! It has reconciled all the African Values thereby Eurpoeanising them! This makes the sound of the Piano seductive according to the Poet!

  62. ajayi rita permalink
    16 October, 2014 5:30 am

    nice poem,a wonderful work

  63. Tosin permalink
    16 October, 2014 5:52 pm

    ‘Piano and Drums’ happens to be one of my favourite poems.The speaker is confused and lost in the music emanating from the ‘jungle drums and ‘a wailing piano’.Both instruments seem to have great conflicting effects on him that at the end, in the last stanza, he is found confused.The implication of this is that, africans have given room for distraction, which is western culture.We have lost our identity which is ideal and superb to western culture.In other words, africans are more or less bastards of two mothers, Africa and Europe or the West. The complexity of the piano suggests a culture and tradition that is difficult to comprehend; and as a result could be harmful. Line 25: ‘…daggerpoint.’ suggest the danger that could occur as a result of an encounter with western tradition (piano). The only way out which remains untouched by the persona is to concentrate on one of the two music. By extension,africans should either returns to their origin, which is more preferable,or to cling on western civilization.

  64. 6 November, 2014 9:19 pm

    nice poem

  65. olaniyanahmod permalink
    7 November, 2014 4:16 pm


  66. Adansi permalink
    15 November, 2014 12:06 am

    This poem is simply a masterpiece. I see a clash of cultures here: a clash between the new and the old, the local and the foreign, the modern and traditional. That is not clear is which one the persona finally succumbed to.

  67. Adansi permalink
    15 November, 2014 12:08 am

    This poem is simply a masterpiece. I see a clash of cultures here: a clash between the new and the old, the local and the foreign, the modern and the traditional. What is not clear is which one the persona finally succumbed to.

  68. OBADEYI NAOMI permalink
    3 March, 2015 5:17 am


  69. 31 March, 2015 9:26 pm

    What Are Some Of The Likely Questions About The Poem?

  70. 31 March, 2015 11:04 pm

    The Poem Is Nice 4 I Say Well Done To The Poet. I Just Want To Know Some Of The Likely Questions About The Poem To SHS Students. Pls I Need Help. Thanks.

  71. 31 March, 2015 11:17 pm

    The Peom Is Nice 4 I Say Well done To The Poet. I Just Want To Know Some Of The Likely Questions About The Poem To SHS Students. I Need Help Pls. Thanks.

  72. peter jr permalink
    30 April, 2015 7:27 pm

    d person who say this poem stinks shud write his own

  73. ken Dela Norviewu permalink
    10 June, 2015 1:41 am

    what does the ‘green leaves and wild flowers’ represent in “piano and drums”?

  74. Dë Ädvîšèr permalink
    17 June, 2015 5:39 am

    This poem is very educative and I erge every one of you who is watching this to take the poem seriously and focus on your studies…Thank you!! JøšëÑèmó

  75. Mohamed fofana permalink
    1 July, 2015 5:05 am

    i like the poem and this is a great work to okara My question is Discuss the importance of piano and drums in bringing out the elements of cultural values.

  76. Risyl permalink
    1 July, 2015 11:48 am

    Hi my name is shirley i personally find this poem unique and i love the interpretation there are allota facts there am a science student bt i love literature this poem is one of the reason am doin a special study on it and with every poem (mostly african) or novel i read it just draws me more closer n this is because of legendary and talnted writers like okara God bless u

  77. JERRY permalink
    8 July, 2015 6:02 am

    The poem is really great and every time i read it i feel good…………..

  78. 10 July, 2015 3:33 am

    Reblogged this on diaryofanigerianteenager and commented:
    i really like this poem a lot. i think this man is very ‘real’

  79. 10 July, 2015 3:45 am

    The poem is beautiful, his use of metaphors are while simple, utterly delightfully relatable

  80. 19 July, 2015 8:53 pm

    To Interperate This Poem Feather,eventhough The Poet Is Lost At The Daggerpoint,due To The Simplicity Of The Sound Of The Drum He Will By All Means Follow The Drum.The Poet Depicts The Theme Of Simplicity Of African Culture Which He Represents With The Drum And The Complexness Of The Western Culture Which He Represent With The Wailing Piano.

  81. 5 August, 2015 7:41 am

    It is very good lessons i will continue more to read on this

  82. michael davis permalink
    19 September, 2015 4:32 am

    what is the theme of it

  83. Abagna permalink
    27 September, 2015 4:59 am

    Good intellectual ability ……literature at is best

  84. Chukwemeka E. N. permalink
    30 September, 2015 2:02 am


  85. judith permalink
    30 September, 2015 5:10 pm

    piano and drums by Gabriel Okara shows a reconciliation between Europe and Africa. It is a must read poem.

  86. navyagarikapati permalink
    2 October, 2015 12:24 am

    Reblogged this on PERSPECTIVES. and commented:
    Such an amazing poem and author 🙂 We were doing this poem for Paper 7:Comment and appreciation and I absolutely loved the poets comparison between the African and Western culture. Plus good analysis by the author of this blog 😀 You’re a lifesaver in moments of confusion!

  87. navyagarikapati permalink
    2 October, 2015 12:36 am

    Loved your analysis 🙂 In my opinion, I thought this poem was about him looking back at his and reminiscing about his youthful days and in the stanza where the drums are used, notice that it has so much simplicity to it, in terms of simple language and all but when the piano is used, there is a lot of enjambment, there are complicated musical terms and this shows how adulthood and old age is. The part where he says ‘lost in the morning mist of an age’, this could show that he might have grown older too fast.
    However, this is just an opinion.

  88. nseghe ekpuk permalink
    25 October, 2015 2:48 am

    I love this poem because it talks about how the rhytm of the drums reminds him about his innocent days before he experienced the hectic life during the pre-colonial times. The two instruments are used to depict the african and western culture, from what i understand, the instruments show that no two cultures can rule together in peace, there has to be conflict.

  89. Victoria Gbenjo permalink
    3 December, 2015 4:48 am

    This poem is fantastic. Okara must have been a wizard with the pen to bring into life something so ordinary and transform it into a simply brilliant work. I love this poem . It takes a knowledgeable and creative mind to understand the message Gabriel conveys with this tremendous poem.

  90. miracle permalink
    15 December, 2015 6:58 pm

    well narrated bt hw abt the figure of speech and literary device used

  91. benjamin permalink
    3 January, 2016 5:02 pm

    please am in akwa ibom state, nigeria, i’ll realy love to get a copy of dis poem, please hw will i get it?

  92. Daniel permalink
    6 January, 2016 4:41 am

    Sir I really enjoyed the poem when I got the real meaning, it is a nice one keep it up

  93. 16 January, 2016 5:03 pm

    I love your critic. Innovative and analytically precise

  94. 18 January, 2016 2:41 am

    Am Also Perplexed Just Because Of The Speaker’s Action Towards The Piano.At First,The Speaker Speaks As If He Want To Follow The Sounds Of The Drummer But He Diverted His Reaction And Sound As Though He Again Want To Follow The Piano.But To Me As A Literature Student,I Have A Strong Feelling That The Speaker Will Surely Follow The Drum Because Of Its Pleasant Words,for The Piano,The Sounds Seems To Be Like Someone Who Is Crying And At The Same Time Wanted To Deliver A Message And I Believed One Will Find It Very Difficult To Comprehend What The Person Mean.I Congratulate The Poet For His Literary Works Done,He Is Truly An African Poet For I Say Bravo.

  95. 18 January, 2016 2:54 am

    You Are Excelletly Right.Bravo

  96. Tope fasasi permalink
    18 January, 2016 11:49 pm

    U do try.

  97. Onimosa permalink
    20 January, 2016 7:48 pm

    proud of being him

  98. paul tarawalie permalink
    25 January, 2016 12:41 am

    the poet should have title the poem “drums and piano” because he first listen to the sound of the drums and later the sound of the piano.

  99. ombeh akpoebide permalink
    27 January, 2016 8:01 pm

    wow what a lovely poem

  100. adewole taiwo permalink
    31 January, 2016 4:31 am

    the poem is all about the crash of culture

  101. adewole taiwo permalink
    31 January, 2016 4:38 am

    we can see that the poet persona is been confuse as a result of dillema that arouse. a situation in which does not know what to do and where to go again

  102. adewole taiwo permalink
    31 January, 2016 4:45 am

    the dillema that occur in this poem potraying to the african that does not know which culture they are to embrace

  103. adewole taiwo permalink
    31 January, 2016 4:50 am

    to me hoo the poem piano and drum is also didatic that is the why people are praising the poet speaker

  104. steph permalink
    2 February, 2016 4:49 am

    I think that the drum had an edge over the piano.Gabriel presented the drum with positively but represented the piano with negativity showing that he welcomes the drum

  105. 5 February, 2016 6:41 am

    I agree africa they are now forget their culture they only focus on western world culture

  106. lekins101 permalink
    11 February, 2016 9:58 am

    Thank you for analyzing the peom, and thank you to those who added additional resources, currently studing for my UTME exam coming up in March and this peom is one of the texts to be expected. To you and the other contibutors. Thank you so much.

  107. aduagba permalink
    12 February, 2016 10:06 pm

    thank u very much may God be wit u

  108. 16 February, 2016 12:47 pm

    The poet’s
    diction is kind of complex

  109. 9 March, 2016 4:35 pm

    I love this poem!
    Man hangs between tradition and civilization!

  110. 2 April, 2016 3:33 am

    Only A Fool Who Is Facing A Problem Of Stupidity Perpetration Will Say This Poem Stinks

  111. 7 April, 2016 11:39 am

    i love the interpritation,okara welldone and keep it up.

  112. Nafiu Abdullahi permalink
    16 April, 2016 10:33 pm

    Okara vividly captures the coming of the Europeans to Africa. This signifies the coming of colonilism into Africa.

  113. toluwalope permalink
    26 April, 2016 12:10 pm

    thanks a lot…..u really helped me , kudos to u

  114. samuel permalink
    18 May, 2016 2:19 pm

    i am a senior secondary student with the love of literary works, this poetry is incredibly beautiful in every way i can relate, thank you sir for this amazing work

  115. Ajisafe Ifedayo permalink
    24 May, 2016 2:13 am

    This is a really Comprehensive analysis. Thanks for helping with my assignment.

  116. Kwabena Oduro Bekoe permalink
    29 June, 2016 6:49 am

    To be honest with my self, the poet did a lot of good to the African continent. We as a people are gradually losing our unique African identify to the outside world. We end up being embarrassed when we find ourselves in the midst of other race. We don’t know how to portray the unique rich African culture been bequeathed to us by our ancestors. No wonder the African leaders travel to the western world to learn everything but still fail when it comes to governance but the traditional rulers govern so well that one is forced to question the basis of Western education to the African. I say, let us see the good in our culture like that of the Japanese. Thank you.

  117. 12 July, 2016 6:43 am

    the book is very sweet

  118. 27 August, 2016 5:08 pm

    wow, but what is the poem all about?, who is the speaker in the poem?

  119. Gibrilla Kargbo permalink
    5 October, 2016 1:49 am

    Nice Interpretation,any Way It Really Remindes Me Of “Things Fall Apart”where The African Culture Is Interrupted By Western Civilization

  120. 2 November, 2016 10:31 pm

    tell me something brief about the riverside in the poem piano and drums

  121. flourish onitilo permalink
    3 November, 2016 5:16 pm

    The poet,in the first two stanzas,gives a picture of primitive nature african.Do you think this weakens or strengthens the effect of the poem….?

  122. Okiemute Oghenernioborue Emmanuel permalink
    6 November, 2016 3:17 pm

    Gabriel Imomotime Okara writes the heart of Africans. The poem has spanned decades now but still not a day old. Whenever I reflect upon the words of my former HOD, Okuyade Ogaga (PhD), “The interference of the sounds from The ‘Piano’ have not only dissuaded – thrown spanner in the wheel of the mechanism of the lively activities in the African jungle, but will eternally mystify It’s ethos.” Thus, the African society will forever ‘stagger’ due to the intoxicating effects derived from this foreign wine (Piano).

    One dips one’s hand into two bags: the bag of history and that of the contemporary, what does one bring out, only one book “Things Fall Apart” because in all honesty that is what you see today on the ‘African Sand’.

    The ‘Fragments’ which A. Amar saw donkey’s years ago on the African Soil still linger. Who will sweep them off? Who will redefine Africa-our home- for us? Who will rearrange these Things that have Fallen Apart? Will there ever be a generation to take us back to our undistorted and equanimous root?

  123. Okoro Noble permalink
    6 December, 2016 4:06 am

    although the poem the piano and drum are two different images piano portraying the western life of the poet while the drum portrays the traditional life of the poet. It was evident in the poem that the piano which is the modern life of the poet have influenced so many people compare to the drum which people now see as been barbaric and posed no influence in them. my humble logo marquee

  124. 17 January, 2017 6:43 am

    A very nice poem. Good poetry work and the meaning fantastic to read!!!

  125. 9 February, 2017 6:35 pm

    i just published a poem, “Mama’s Ghost,” and someone told me that it has the same thematic concerns with Gabriel Okara’s, “Piano and Drums,” then i stumbled in to your blog and found it…i must admit that i love the way you have analyzed it…the way you discovered the symbolism and imagery in the entire can check my, “Mama’s Ghost,” @ then on the menu bar click POETRY

  126. 13 March, 2017 8:27 pm

    I like the way the poem is analyse,but i was expecting that the poem should have themes and literatrary terms. But once more that for the poem

  127. senanu courage kordjo permalink
    28 March, 2017 6:35 am

    i am a student of Literature-in-English at the senior high level,can you assist me in passing this course?

  128. Crown permalink
    7 April, 2017 7:30 pm

    Very nice 1,and most interesting summarize

  129. sesugh xsestex permalink
    17 April, 2017 6:12 am

    I am impressed with the write up.Thank you.

  130. dav merlington permalink
    24 April, 2017 6:24 am

    The poem is awesome and understandable….. I fink I like it

  131. 25 April, 2017 8:09 pm

    Wow okara u are great it enlighten​ me more though I have little be understanding on d poem kudos

  132. princex bella blossom permalink
    25 April, 2017 9:04 pm

    wow so expository DAT it teaches us about all DAT we d African s av neglected

  133. 20 May, 2017 4:12 am

    where is the setting of this poem take place?

  134. Akintola Segun permalink
    3 June, 2017 2:25 pm

    pls I need the figures of speech in this poet very urgent…thanks

  135. Akintola Segun permalink
    3 June, 2017 2:27 pm

    please I need the figures of speech in this poet very urgent

  136. blackking007 permalink
    7 June, 2017 10:24 pm

    i thiink u should go and fuck ur mummy plls fuck u and fuck off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  137. Rashidatu Maigah permalink
    1 August, 2017 11:22 pm

    I really love this poem. Thumbs up to the poet

  138. Mbasa permalink
    9 August, 2017 10:12 pm

    I’m performing it for for my final exam it’s powerfull

  139. 10 August, 2017 8:26 pm

    A powerful poem.when I first read it I do understand the dilemma of cultural conflict the poet’s faces, using the drum and the piano to symbolize two different culture, but I can’t say I fully grasp it well but with your analysis, i was able to fully understand the diction well.
    Okara has always inspired me likewise the great Christopher Okigbo.
    Great job educating us.

  140. Abolade hephzibah permalink
    24 August, 2017 9:12 pm

    At first reading no but with imagination yes

  141. Marshal chindo permalink
    20 October, 2017 4:47 pm

    I’m really impress with this.Can i be part of this? ,facebook Marshal Chindo

  142. 3 November, 2017 11:11 pm

    Nice post, it’s helpful,

  143. Bakano A. Murtala permalink
    23 January, 2018 4:14 pm

    Tremendous effort! Keep up the outstanding literary works. My students are proud of,and grateful to you! Thanks!

  144. Emrics permalink
    26 February, 2018 2:19 am

    I just read d poem,can’t understand #need someone 2 give me a line by line explanation of d poem & d figures of speech used in each line.Its urgent thanks.

  145. 5 March, 2018 3:56 pm


  146. Jerome Mindgames permalink
    10 March, 2018 5:37 am

    For me, I find it difficult to properly understand why the poet got confused at the hearing of the piano. At first, we are made to understand that the drums beats were the first sounds that was introduced to his ears. According to him, he is able to distinguish between the two musics, how he got confused is what I failed to comprehend. However, I may say he compares himself to vulnerable and feeble minded Africans who cannot adequately decide what is good for them. I also think that even though the poet persona became confused as whether which cultural is best, he plays a more sure value on his indigenous cultural than the strange and sophisticated culture of far away lands…

  147. Chikengezha Wellington permalink
    27 March, 2018 10:43 pm

    beautiful artiistic piece by Okara. there is a thing which is phenomenal amongst Nigerian writers

  148. Happy permalink
    15 April, 2018 11:50 pm


  149. 19 April, 2018 5:38 pm

    The poem draw my mind to the religions too, the Islam and Christianity. Though both are leading to the same daggerpoint, but still seeing to be confusing.
    Anyway, Nice poem.

  150. Olugbenga Omooye permalink
    23 July, 2018 5:10 pm

    I really accept and keen into this wonderful analysis. i also applaud Gabriel Okara on this poem ( Piano and Drums ). It’s green.

  151. Shanaya Mehta permalink
    29 October, 2018 2:39 pm

    I must say you did a wonderful job while analyzing and summarizing it.

  152. Yousu Freeman Benga-Samah permalink
    16 December, 2018 2:35 am

    Gabriel Okara was at his best when he wrote the poem though I believe he was totally disillusion with the trend at which the African heritage is dwindling in the face of the Western civilization. In fact, the poem starts with confusion; “Piano and Drum” just like Frost’s Poem, the “road not taken”. Either we follow our traditional musical instrument(the Drum) or we celebrate the Western musical instrument(the piano). A total dilemma for the poet and the so called educated elites of Africa who are no longer interested in their traditions.
    Thank you Gabriel

  153. St. Paul odiba. permalink
    23 January, 2019 9:38 pm

    Thanks for this great analysis.

  154. Nyanor Patrick permalink
    29 January, 2019 10:08 pm

    I think that was a very good interpretation.

  155. 14 February, 2019 8:06 pm

    that is very wonderful. I will use this commentry to write my wassce exams.

  156. Rahman Sserugo permalink
    30 April, 2019 4:47 pm


  157. alfred bonongwe permalink
    14 August, 2019 11:20 pm

    great indeed. may genius have eternal rest


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