Love Apart – Christopher Okigbo

Posted: February 24, 2011 in NIGERIAN POETRY
Tags: , , , ,




Christopher Okigbo is a Nigerian poet who was born in Ojoto, in the east, in 1932. He read classics at the University of Ibadan and rose through many education-related professions to become the West African Representative of Cambridge University Press. He was a lively conversationalist and had a creative disposition, borne out of his large appetite for reading.

But civil strife in Nigeria took his life quickly. When the Biafra war started, he stood for the secession-seeking Biafra region and was one of the early casualties of the war, in 1967.

But before he passed away, Okigbo published the volumes Heavensgate, The Limits and Other Poems, as well as long sequences in journals.

Here is a true pillar in the development of Nigerian literature.

The moon has ascended between us,
Between two pines
That bow to each other;

Love with the moon has ascended
5 Has fed on our solitary stems;

And we are now shadows
That cling to each other,
But kiss the air only


This is a poem of heartbreak. Christopher Okigbo conveys this feeling through the particular reference to nature, where all artists seek inspiration. He uses the air, the moon and two pines.

In many parts of Africa, such as Ghana and Nigeria particularly, the passage of time is measured by the moon. “Three moons” is “three months” for the Ewe people of Ghana, Togo and Benin.

Okigbo says the moon has descended between two pines, he and another. The pine is an evergreen tree, symbolising longevity. This means that the two people still live on. But times have changed for them.

And with its ascent, it took love with it in line 4. So the two of them have lost the love they shared. And it’s left them solitary; Left them as “shadows!” (line 6)

So, two “pines” which loved, now only “cling” to each other in line 7 and kiss only the air. This cling is not the meaning that explains “holding tight.” The word cling also means to have emotional need of somebody. A need that is not met. That is hard or impossible to satisfy.

So, Okigbo tells us that the parting was done, just like the rise of the moon, maybe just fleetingly. But it leaves an ache, a pain, a longing, a craving that is hard to meet. And that is the power of the poem.
I dedicate this to anyone who will ever read this and may be hurting while reading. The pines are evergreen; that is the ray of hope. Life goes on.

  1. nana says:

    Nice piece but a nicer explanation of it. Big ups bro! I know there is hope for me. Will meet that love of my life who will love me like Christ does. Hahahaha


  2. Truly beautiful. The symbolism of the ‘pine’ is great, even if we think that there are such pines that can withstand drought conditions. I never imagined Okigbo to be like this!


    • Dela says:

      Thanks, Nana. Okigbo is a master. I thought I knew his style but his short life packs so much mystery in the art. Thanks for your very welcome mentoring.


  3. jabuu says:

    Its a wonderful piece


  4. laolu says:

    would love to see more poems from nigeria for instance J.P clark’s ibadan,abiku and so many more soulful poetry as well as the poem africa my africa..can’t remember the poets name again..nice wrk tho’


    • Dela says:

      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the recommendations. The poem ‘Africa’ was written by David Diop and I’m making a list of poems that have come in through searches. I will add this to the list too and review it soon. Nigeria has the most studied poets per country in Africa and I think you will very soon have too much of them to read here. Keep reading.


  5. joseph says:

    a nice literary work by Okigbo.It is short but pregnant with a matured message. wow!


  6. Chika says:

    Dela who art thou?
    Welldone Dela Africa watches and I do.


  7. nice poem. short, precise and soul stirring. I think d poem talks abt seperatn, by tym. D 2 pines seperated by tym are alone in dia diffrnt worlds, and cant actualy cling 2 each oda, bt stil luvs each oda.


  8. Alex O'yoma says:

    Dela. You are amazing the way you review all these poems. Thumbs up sire. Okigbo ‘s mastery.


  9. Alex O'yoma says:

    Dela. You are amazing the way you review all these poems. Thumbs up sire. Okigbo ‘s mastery. No doubt


  10. Obinwa ugochukwu sunday says:

    Quite a nice review….think’s you’ve done a wonderful job. Love to get more on your works.


  11. oyibode stanley onome says:

    Good job, looking forward to doing something similar about Okigbo’s poems as an X-president of Christopher Okigbo Poetry Club University of Ibadan, Nigeria.


  12. oyibode stanley onome says:

    from the piece, u can see the obscurity in Okigbo’s work. It will be well understood when one is familiar with d dictions.


  13. Omobolanle hassan says:

    This was one of my favourite poems growing up. Thanks for posting.


  14. Presh says:

    the poem I think is talking about love between two people but nice piece


  15. Ayo Dagold says:

    Nice collection,great work you are doing.such a shame the youths of today hardly pay attention to blogs like there a way I can send you my articles and poems sometimes for corrections and to see if they will be good enough for your blog.keep on your good works,God bless.


Your comments go a long way

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s