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“Piano and Drums” by Gabriel Okara and “Rising five” by Norman Nicholson Essay

The two poems, “Rising five” by Norman Nicholson and “Piano and Drums” by Gabriel Okara share many of the same base themes through the use of language techniques. Both these poems are to do with life and yet both looked at different parts of it. They each used similar language techniques but for different reasons. They both use metaphors and imagery to emphasise their points

In both “Rising five” and “Piano and Drums” metaphors are used to link the surrounding with life itself. In the poem, “Rising five” metaphors were used to show the inevitability of death, for example in the lines “we look for the grave in the bed: not living rising dead”, this indicates how that every single second they wake up they are closer to death and so a rising closer to it every time. Imagery plays a great part in the poems bond with life as we see in, “Cones of light”. At first we see that this is merely describing light, yet when we go deeper into the poem we find that the light is really the child’s coming to truth or to a higher level of thinking.

In ‘Piano and Drums’ metaphors are used to show a contrast involved in the main idea of the play. In this poem the main idea is the knowledge of the conflict in mankind between childhood needs with adult attitudes and behaviour, the metaphor used in the poem is the line “And I lost in the morning mist of an age at riverside keep”, the words morning mist indicates the autumn months and this when related back into age is in the later years of one life, this line was meant to signify how the persona has thought about this conflict of feelings and needs and how after you have seen and lived in these phases of life can you truly acknowledge it. The word “mist” is also a metaphor of uncertainty and confusion as one grows up.

In the poem “Piano and drums” imagery is used to show conflicting and adventurous sense between the two conflicting sides of the argument. In the line lost in the labyrinth of its complexities, it ends in the middle of a phrase at a dagger point, this is talking about how he is lost in this new phase of life where everything is different and that his whole life is constantly under threat whether he had the ability to identify it or not. Whereas in “Rising five” imagery is used to show to show this idea as anĀ image that can be pictured by the reader, the lines “The new buds push the old leaves from the bough. We drop our youth behind us like a boy throwing away his toffee wrapper” this shows us life inevitability. When things turn old its use has gone and bigger and better things take its place, also in terms of human it tells us that when we grow in age we naturally lose our childhood notions, so casually that it is not noticed by us like when we throw rubbish away, and so it shows us that change if life will always be with or without our knowledge that it is taking place. Therefore this depiction of this idea was given by the imagery of the poems.

In “Rising five” we also learn about the person in his youth as “toffee-buckled cheeks” which portrays innocence and harmlessness as we see the beauty of younger kids in their content. This is also a neologism as toffee and buckled are not often hyphenated but are hyphenated in this case to draw particular attention to this child’s innocence at youth.

In conclusion we see that both “Rising five” and “Piano and Drums” depict the typical progression through life (Bildungsroman) in 2 different types of people. “Rising five” is about the growth of an innocent and protected boy to becoming a fruit and then an object which is no longer wanted, through the use of metaphors and imagery and how the same types of language techniques are used to show another progression from an uncivil and active childhood to a softer more complex adulthood in “Piano and Drums”.


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