School: Dority International Secondary School. Abia State
BACKGROUND OF THE POEM
The poem “The Children of This Land” is a forty-three-line poem written by Professor Wole Soyinka in the year 2003. The poem is quite metaphorical in nature as it is set to unveil issues which are of great importance in our society today.
In stanza one, we can see the use of two contradicting words in the first line, “children” and “old”. The children of this land are referred to as the leaders of our society today. They are actually referred to as children due to the way they approach the government of the land they are given responsibility to preside over. They also being regarded as old, shoves that they have quite stepped up in age and from all indications are not meant to be in charge of the government of the land.
Still in the same stanza, we can see that theses children of the land are focusing on maps in place of land. Maps here are used to symbolize a point of deviation of the leaders to areas where they think they can play their cards in order to get rich quickly. These maps are seen to be something being looked at that would enable them take advantage of their office as leaders of the land. This gaze on the maps succeeds in forming a distraction as they drift the attention and purpose of a true leader.
Also, these leaders tend to focus on designs which are referred to as “contours” in the poem created by “alien minds”. This is a situation where the leaders drift to follow past who from all indications, did not know the key responsibility involved in leadership as it generates more harm to the present society.
In stanza two, we are made to see the introduction of pride in the leaders. They are made to be enjoying certain privileges that are deprived of every other person in the land. “They tread on air but-note-the land it was that first withdrew”. The ninth line goes ahead to expose their deceitful nature. This line is made to illustrate the campaign promises and how they seemed to be good and loving at the blast of their regime of reign.
It also goes further to show that the “horizons are filled with crows” and “clouds are swarms of locusts”. This scenario is used to illustrate a situation where statements made by the leaders, “crows” are all nothing but lies “locusts”. This stanza shows that this land is in serious need of help.
The third stanza shows the benefits these leaders derive from their leadership. We can see that they grow the largest eyes which are from all indications, bigger than every other person dwelling or residing in the land. This however creates a scenario that is a shadow of what is really expected. The residents of the lands are expected to be the ones which the largest eyes as they served but in this, we can see a different case which shows that the leaders are neglecting their responsibilities. Despite the “crowns” on their head which shows leadership and the benefits they are falsely getting, they are not still satisfied as they set to achieve more by all means. This is shown in line 19.
Stanza four sets to reveal the origin of these leaders. From this stanza, we can see that they actually come from parents who are deprived or stopped from having what is truly theirs. This family background creates a hardness in their heart as they are determined to both seek revenge and get back all they must have been dispossessed of. This hardness of heart and mind I represented in line 25 by: “scales” and “callus”. As a mark of their readiness to accomplish this, they are seen to develop “claws for rooting ” and their tongues propagating new social codes and laws.`
Stanza five introduces love which is used to represent truth in our present society. We can see that truth, however has its place in the society as it is has been seen to be “banished”, “hidden” and “robbed of presence”.
In stanza six, we can see that these leaders choose finally to embrace emptiness as lovers. These leaders are seen to bring up their own offspring. Dramatically, these offspring seem not to be following the steps of their predecessors, “parenthood”. They serve as judges that expose and heal the ills of the past which has been generated by the past leaders. These offspring are seen to perform another function. They are seen to destroy the air which is generated by the past leaders that is filled with all nothing but lies. At the last line we see a question; “who sold our youth?”. This question is asked as they try to investigate why the old and not the young are ruling the society.
PARADOX: This is used in stanza one, line one: the children of this land are old.
METAPHOR: Metaphor is used as direct comparison is used in stanza five, line 29: “where love is banished stranger, lonely”
HYPERBOLE: a form of exaggeration is employed in the poem in stanza two, line seven; “they tread on air”
RHETORICAL QUESTION: It is employed in the last stanza and last line: “who sold our youths?”
The major theme of this poem is the theme of bondage and darkness as the land is held captive by the children of the land and they also create an unfriendly and uncomfortable atmosphere for the citizens of the land.
From the poem, it has registered in my heart that the role of leadership is not for selfish interest but it is an opportunity to serve others and serve as an anchor to them when they are in need or trouble. It creates also in me that the society needs to sanitize and also the mantle of capable generation. It also shows that truth brings light and a refreshing atmosphere while lies brings darkness and an unpleasant atmosphere for all.