After all the while of regrouping and reading, we’re back to discussing Vanity again. Yaay! Although that’s all we’ve been looking at and you’re sick of it, you’ll have to suck it up.
Cuz we’ll be doing a whole lot more and changing it up over time. Today, the focus is on its themes of the effects of Karma, failure to appreciate what you have till it’s gone and a few others. The insinuations and connotations are widespread.
The effects of Karma or the guilt it brings is as prominent in the poem as meat in a bowl of chop bar fufu ( puts a reminder in calendar to visit a chop bar later ). The third stanza significantly portrays how the new generation mock and ignore the older generation just as the cycle occurred with their ancestors. The guilt creeps in with the memory of the deceased, as well as the knowledge that the old generation had once turned a deaf ear to their elders’ advice. Karma is also buttressed in the last stanza – and my, my … What a bitch!
And since we did not understand our dead
Since we have never listened to their cries
If we weep, gently, gently
If we cry roughly of our torments
What heart will listen to our clamouring,
What ear to our sobbing hearts?
Uuuum. Ok awkward.
The personas have come to realize that despite their pleas and admonishment, the past has caught up with them. The new generation will learn only when it’s too late, just as it happened in the past where the ‘dead’ were not understood and were never heard.
Another strong theme here is the failure to appreciate what one has until it’s gone. Yes, apparently that overused drivel is here too. Go figure. The personas had the chance to listen to whatever their elders and ancestors had to say, but the opportunity passed when they died and took their nuggets of wisdom with them. Forever! It seems, in their regret, they took it upon themselves to pass on the information they took for granted as a means to redeem themselves. Ironically, the chance to have the young ones to pay attention and listen to them has long passed as well. This is evident in the sad, opening lines of the poetry – to name a few.
If we tell, gently, gently
All that we shall one day have to tell,
Who then will hear our voices without laughter,
The apathy of the modern generation is another resounding theme. As sick as we all get of hearing from old people that we don’t listen, the personas are old people . . . Putting one and two together now? The ‘unworthy Sons’ and ‘big children’ are in no mood to give any flying fucks about what the personas have to offer in terms of wisdom. They’re too busy laughing and poking fun and tormenting them.
In all the stanzas, it is made clear that no one is going to listen to the personas and the children are shoved into the spotlight for the craven, nonchalant, reckless and depraved generation they are, upon whom God shall sick the apocalypse . . . . *sigh. I can’t even.*
AND NOW, THE THEME YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. The abandonment of the old generation by the modern generations. Isn’t that classic? African poets seem to have this superiority complex that translates into their personas giving off elitist know-all-about-my-culture vibes – or is it just me?
Maybe the old generation talked about history, custom, value and culture? Maybe they structured healthy or unhealthy models of life in society, progressive or not?
All in all, time is working fast and hard against them in their bid to reserve their ancestry and that of those before them, before finally meeting their maker. Talk about a late life crisis. The personas are reminded of their dead whose ‘signs’ and legacies are traced in several places and how they made nothing of it. The fear of abandonment is heavy.
They have left on the earth their cries,
In the air, on the water, where they have traced their signs
For us, blind deaf and unworthy Sons
Who see nothing of what they have made
In the air, on the water, where they have traced their signs.
The poetry is quite dark with subject matters of apathy, despair, mockery and neglect. It shouts a message of not abandoning your roots and sticking to your values. A truly touching and – in a sense – poignant work of art, if you may. But that’s that for now. Enjoy your literature and Alphabet soup. And till the next time, keep learning and loving you and being you! Cuz you’re awesome. You already know that, right?
More posts coming soon. Chao Chao!