The Mesh – Kwesi Brew

Posted: March 31, 2011 in GHANAIAN POETRY
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Growing up, I always found that Kwesi Brew’s poetry resonated with my kind of style. He writes crisply, not using any unnecessary words. He knew what words were right to condense the right emotion. He was my favourite poet and I always wanted to meet him. I never did. And found out only late last year that he passed away in 2007. The literary world paid him less tribute than he deserved.

The Mesh is one of his more popular poems. And rightly so, looking at the beauty of its construction. The man himself was born in 1928, at Cape Coast, Ghana. He was born in the eye of the independence struggle and some of his poems have reflected that sense of strife. A Plea for Mercy is a classic example. He was educated in Ghana and then he travelled widely in the service of the nation. He was orphaned early in life and was raised by a guardian. The reason why he continues to be my favourite Ghanaian poet (though Atukwei Okai’s rhythm slays me too) is the control his words have. They are on point and simplistic. His works will endure as some of the greatest Ghanaian pieces ever.

We have come to the cross-roads
And I must either leave or come with you
I lingered over the choice
But in the darkness of my doubts
5 You lifted the lamp of love
And I saw in your face
The road that I should take.

This is a love poem, but as every great poem is, the meaning can be transcribed to the other political ways of men.
Brew is at a cross-roads of love with his partner, a point we all reach in our lives in our quests to find happiness. His words are plain. They are conversational as well as reported, as though he were talking of times gone by. The striking feature in this poem is the mixture of tense. In the first line, he is speaking in the Present, as though the cross-roads have just been reached. But in line 3 onwards, the tense changes to the Past and he seems to be talking about an event that is long gone.

The switch in tense is a testament to his confusion at that cross-road. Presently, he is confused!! When his mind is made up, his confusion is in the Past. The power that this nuance carries is powerful, and a fitting tribute to Brew’s trademark.
The story of the poem concludes that as his lover lifted a lamp of love (line 5), he was able to see where he ought to be going. Ostensibly, in the lover’s direction! That is a glowing tribute to the emotion of love itself. And a more intriguing twist, when you look up again and see that the title of the poem is THE MESH. The confusion. The perplexity. Love takes it away.

Rest in peace, Kwesi.

  1. Aba says:



  2. Kinna says:

    I featured his poem The Sea Eats Our Land on my blog last year. I’m rediscovering his work. And I agree; he is very under appreciated and that needs to change. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dela says:

      Kwesi Brew’s recognition must be accorded him even if posthumously. I hope it gets done, to right this wrong. I read his piece from your blog too. Thanks for stopping by.


  3. momoh idowu says:

    i need a full analysis of the mesh by kesi brew


  4. Yaa says:

    We need more analysis of the poem but apart from that this poem is simply lovely


  5. livelytwist says:

    Love, an emotion that moves men and women to action. As you point out in your review, Kwesi Brew captures this powerfully in few words. I dare say this poem resonates because we have either known this love or yearn for it. The latter is mostly true.

    Dela, you make me fall in love with poetry again and again.


  6. Mariah Johnson says:

    It is a beautiful analysis;but I kinda see this poem from a different yet related perspective. I see this poem as a post colonial poem. The two persona in this poems are Africans and Mama Africa.The cross road is the cultural dichotomy of African and European culture! The persona in the poem doesn’t know, if he is 2 stick with his Africaned way of life or to follow the Europeanized way of life; but in his dark state,he realises the love mama Africa has shown and he makes his decision! This is 2 ma little understanding


    • Dela says:

      This is a beautiful interpretation too. And poetry is so universally subjective that both translations can be used correctly. Thanks Mariah.


  7. Delassie says:



  8. Buiwoh Lambert says:

    I love Kwesi’s poems cus his diction is always in true and peaceful relationship with his subject matter.Also, his unbeatable power of description is very glaring and as such,impeccable.This’s evident in his poems “The Ancestral Faces”,”Fear Shall Fail”etc.

    I never heard of his death.Oh! Why should a great man like Kwesi Brew be trivialised?


  9. Rasheed cbo says:

    It’s always consuming to read a piece from kwesi Brew,simple yet powerful.
    A great poet by every inch,God rest his soul.


  10. Ochefu Maria says:

    I read this poem about ten years ago in Ngeria while in the Junior secondary school I loved it more than any other because it’s such a comforter to me and when I was denied Admission into the university and was confused I lingered at the cross road of going into the convent I read this poem to my Bishop and was given admission into the Catholic university of Nigeria were am studying English Education and using the Poem MESH for for a critical analysis. The poem should be regarded as a miraculous poem God bless kwesi as he rest in peace.


  11. maameee says:

    i love poetry as well especially African poetry.


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