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In Piano and Drums, Gabriel Okara has effectively managed to present two conflicting cultures, both of which he is a part of, through the form of music. On one hand is his innate African culture symbolised by the raw wild beating

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Introduction

In Piano and Drums, Gabriel Okara has effectively managed to present two conflicting cultures, both of which he is a part of, through the form of music. On one hand is his innate African culture symbolised by the raw wild beating of the drums and on the other hand is the soft melodic and complicated rhythm of the piano, symbolising foreign European culture that has invaded his African homeland. Throughout the poem, he discusses both cultures but it seems as if he has already made up his mind about one. In the first stanza, Okara describes how and where he hears the beat of the drums. "When at break of day" suggests the time when he heard the beat but it could also mean rebirth or a new beginning for his African side. The words that Okara uses to describe the drums are all short, monosyllabic words like "mystic," "urgent" and "raw." These words mimic the sound of the drums as if they are also in harsh short bursts. This is further supported by the use of the word "telegraphing" as a telegraph transmits short message bursts rather than one long sound. ...read more.

Middle

Okara describes how the drums take him back to his childhood and life as a hunter. His "blood ripples," this action suggests that the rippling is just the beginning and then it "turns torrent, topples the years." The blood could mean the feelings locked up inside him that suddenly boil and come rushing out like a flood, destroying all his years of experience and foreign culture and "at once" transporting him into his childhood. The alliteration in "turns torrent, topples," increases the pace of the action, making it seem fast, violent and terrible. Okara is transported to his mother's "laps" where he is "a suckling." "Mother" here could be a reference to nature and "a suckling" suggests a feeling of fulfilment and contentment. Okara talks about walking down "paths" instead of streets or roads as the "paths" are "rugged" and "fashioned with feet" and lacking "innovation." All of these show the simplicity of the African way of life, without any modernism but Okara seems to be happy . The third stanza finally speaks of the piano. ...read more.

Conclusion

The final stanza is sort of like a conclusion but not exactly. It is a conclusion to the poem but not to his feelings of discrepancy. Even though it already seems as if he values the drums before the piano, he is still plagued by the piano calling to him. Here, the "morning mist" mimics his feelings of confusion, also supported by "wandering" showing that he hasn't come to a final conclusion. Okara feels more from the drums as is evident in the two long paragraphs full of simplistic language and sensory images against the one bare and short stanza of complex language with no sensory images at all. Even the structure of the poem shows his preference as the drums are described with passion as "mystic, raw and urgent" while the piano is described in small breaking lines as if the piano (colonisation) calls to him but he doesn't want to go. Though Okara has made up his mind half-way about which culture he prefers, he can't abandon one and pick the other as he is still being called to by both of them. The final stanza states this confusion. ...read more.

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