I have reviewed and discussed only African poetry till now but today I do something a bit outside my convention. I’m posting a poem I wrote on a whim based on inspiration from John Keats‘ Ode on A Grecian Urn. I know many readers will know Keats’ poem from studying it in school or reading it on recommendation. If you have not read it, click here to do so. In summary, Keats is describing a couple of images that are design-sculpted unto the body of an urn and his ode is to the permanence of the condition of the pictures, being frozen and unable to reach full accomplishment. Regardless, he says that those pictures, if the urn will last as long, will outlast our generations. My response is what I will call Keats’ poem if he was African, having not an urn, but the more traditional calabash from which he is now drunk. Enjoy:
Drunken Ode on An Ashanti Calabash
You bald head crackpot of an unworshipped gourd
Owner of sweet whine, lined with alternate this chord
What incense wafts incessant on your inside
What merry joys accompany your company.
What brave brow, what bold curve
Hairless rim-head, competitor of shaved eggshells
Afraid to touch the earth but on your belly.
Glass wine is sweet, but gourd wine is sweeter
Funeral wine, party wine, you hold them better
What a roll you make on your underbelly
When rocking here this way and that
What browned fare, what fair brow
What endless, gaping gap on your inside
Forever open to wine and air.
Pour me a drink, pour me two
Which are sipped ‘pon suppers supped
Momentous joy for a dugout unleaked
What thin wall, what thick skin
What strong ethers of spirits reek
Shanty half body of insipid taste.
Sleeping is truth, and truth sleeping
Let me now lie and tomorrow waste