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Season by Wole Soyinka

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Season by Wole Soyinka

There seems to be a strange contrast between his choice of the word “decay”, which suggests things going to ruin and the final sentiment where the word “promise” indicates hope.  I get the sense that Soyinka’s poem is contrived.  He feels the urge to speak lyrically about this subject but does not seem to have found his authentic voice, or perhaps the theme is too complex for him to address in a sixteen line poem.  This is reflected in lines such as “Pollen is mating time” which not only fails to make sense but is also rather clumsy.

This poem begs comparison with Achebe’s “Refugee Mother and Child” that redefines aesthetics through comparison with traditional Western sensibilities.  

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“We loved to hear” indicates a sense of pleasure that not only applies to the actual sound but to the implications of that sound, the knowledge that something is growing.  The “winged streaks of light” capture the attention of the persona who is clearly tuned in to nature.  He observes

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In the second stanza the mood of “Season” shifts to one of anticipation as time seems to move slowly.  This is suggested by the “long shadows” and the germ’s “decay” and is made more explicit by the words, “we await / The promise of the rust.”  The quick movement of the swallows that are metaphorically described as “arrows” that “streak” is in contrast with the humans that watch and wait, now passive observers.  The beauty in the first stanza is active whilst he later moves into a more pensive appreciation of beauty, reflected in the slower shadows and smoke.

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