Saturday, 12 June 2010

Two writers, two poems, one title - ABIKU

The two poems below, by JP Clark and Wole Soyinka share the same title and theme. I love both poems. It was Kola Tubosun's quote from JP Clark's "Abiku" on Facebook that inspired me to dig out the poems again.

I wish you the pleasure I get any time I read them.   

Abiku By JP Clark

Coming and going these several seasons,
Do stay out on the baobab tree,
Follow where you please your kindred spirits
If indoors is not enough for you.
True, it leaks through the thatch
When flood brim the banks,
And the bats and the owls
Often tear in at night through the eaves,
And at harmattan, the bamboo walls
Are ready tinder for the fire
That dries the fresh fish up on the rack.
Still, it's been the healthy stock
To several fingers, to many more will be
Who reach to the sun.
No longer then bestride the threshold
But step in and stay
For good. We know the knife scars
Serrating down your back and front
Like beak of the sword-fish,
And both your ears, notched
As a bondsman to this house,
Are all relics of your first comings.
Then step in, step in and stay
For her body is tired,
Tired, her milk going sour
Where many more mouths gladden the heart.

Abiku By Wole Soyinka

In vain your bangles cast
Charmed circles at my feet;
I am Abiku, calling for the first
And the repeated time.

Must I weep for goats and cowries
For palm oil and the sprinkled ash?
Yams do not sprout in amulets
To earth Abiku's limbs.

So when the snail is burnt in his shell
Whet the heated fragments, brand me
Deeply on the breast. You must know him
When Abiku calls again.

I am the squirrel teeth, cracked
The riddle of the palm. Remember
This, and dig me deeper still into
The god's swollen foot.

Once and the repeated time, ageless
Though I puke. And when you pour
Libations, each finger points me near
The way I came, where

The ground is wet with mourning
White dew suckles flesh-birds
Evening befriends the spider, trapping
Flies in wind-froth;

Night, and Abiku sucks the oil
From lamps. Mother! I'll be the
Supplicant snake coiled on the doorstep
Yours the killing cry.

The ripes fruit was saddest;
Where I crept, the warmth was cloying.
In the silence of webs, Abiku moans, shaping
Mounds from the yolk.


  1. Anonymous4:00:00 am

    easier said than done. 一起努力吧! ....................................................

  2. Nice poems there. They just never get old.

  3. Anonymous12:57:00 pm

    memories! memories! memories!I wrote these poems in my WAEC 1985 including night rain by JP Clark. you can imagine.

  4. Anonymous1:01:00 pm

    i like jp clark very much and his poetry is very inspiring!!!!!

  5. Anonymous1:08:00 pm

    i like j.p clark very much and his poems are very good and inspiring! thank you for posting these poems!!!!

  6. Auwal Aulad1:46:00 pm

    Wow!!! Great poem, I like it very much

  7. Brings memories of my Secondary sch days and of one whose love 4 poetry was evident in her teaching...great poems

  8. Anonymous1:35:00 am

    good poem is a thing of the soul, its awaken the mental mind, and brigthen the creative artistry. J.p. Clark and Wole Soyinka are poetic innovators. Enaibo.

  9. for real, no speech would say it better

  10. Anonymous4:03:00 pm

    muchas gracias, senor. I have a sense of wanting to get Jp and Wole'e head all in mine.

  11. Anonymous1:48:00 am

    this is really nice poem

  12. lokeswarisathishkumar1:52:00 am

    ABIKU- is a great poem. i like soyinka's approach in this poem

  13. The poems are typical of happenings in African cultures. Great poets rendering literary works at the finest level.

  14. While Clark's "Abiku" is suffuse with a supplicative tone, Soyinka's "Abiku" rings with a tone of defiance. To enjoy these two poems, the best bet is to parallel them and analyze them with the tools of contrast and comparison...

  15. Anonymous7:50:00 am

    This are two great poems. I love it cos it gives me an insight into d two different cultural background of the poets.

  16. You are not alone, dear friend, as I love to nuts these poems of old, Abiku...

  17. Anonymous7:16:00 am

    These poets remind me of my personality that i'm a young Soyinka and Clark. Clark's 'Abiku' is appealing and persuasive, while Soyinka's is defiant; Abiku bragging and boasting with pride.


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