Among many contemporary poets, Gabriel Okara makes his stand as one of the most influential Nigerian lyricists. Okara speaks of the same impressions of the controversial novelist Chinua Achebe. In the poem "Piano and Drums" by Gabriel Okara, Okara shows the contrasts between the past life and the modern world. Some aspects in his poem date back before the beginning of civilization. In this essay I will reflect on Okara's concepts and visions.
The poem is effectively written in Verse Libre or free verse. This allows Okara to freely express his thoughts without any restrictions in rhyme or rhythm. This technique gives a lyric type tone to the poem, aiming on the reflection of the speaker's experiences and how different and complex life has become. From "...simple paths with no innovation..." formed with "...the naked warmth of hurrying feet..." contrasting strongly with the modern day "...complex ways...," this reiterates the title's strong contrast, piano's and drums.
So by using no distinctive rhyme or rhythm, Okara creates a monologue lyric reflective on the speaker's experiences and visions.
In the poem, there is a strong contrast between the symbols shown in the title. The drums, representing metaphorically ancient native life; simple yet solid, some of the perspectives date back to earlier times before the acts of civilization but most importantly European imperialism. The drums have a "...mystic rhythm..." having an unrehearsed, "...urgent, raw..." sense to their powerful simple, basic beat as opposed to the piano. The poem metaphorically symbolises the Western World but more specifically the European race. This statement is created because of the complexity of the instrument; an individual must possess some sort of knowledge. The speaker describes the sound of the piano as "...wailing..." this also contrasts with the "...pulsing..." beat of the drum. Through these elements...