Poetry is Logistics: Okigbo

Screen your bedchamber thoughts

with sunglasses;

who could jump your eye,

your mind-window?


And I said:

The prophet only,

the poet.

And he said:



Which is what poetry is.

Which is what poetry is.


  • Christopher Okigbo, quoted in Edwin Thumboo’s PhD dissertation.


The symbolic fusion of the traditional and Christian elements noted by critics is successful on account of the balanced yet un-strained meaningfulness contributed by image and symbol.


Scar of the crucifix

over the breast

by red blade inflicted
by red-hot blade on right breast



The ‘crucifix’

we have been made over-familiar with its sorrowful aspects at the expense of its pictorial and dramatic qualities. Okigbo revives the potency of the symbol, restoring the full impact of Christ on the cross, the opening of his side, the miracle of the stigmata, intensifying the visual qualities, symbolises the life and passion of Christ.

The religious content of both traditions meet and merge in the

protagonist. We notice the dialectical movement, the synthesis

creating its own dissatisfactions, leading to a further poetic ex¬

ploration, a critique through poetry of the unity achieved. Perception is
a new vantage point from which to ponder the limitations of the

temporary because the new awareness provides a fresh insight,

present. The poet moves on, not because the ‘rituals’ are likely to obscure his perceptions or ‘paralyse’ him, but in order to move continuously onto an ever-increasing purity of perception to arrive at a complete understanding.22 In this manner he achieves, through experience, a unity of being which gathers the sum-total of all interests, not merely the African or the Western. Only a compre¬¨ hensive personality can express in meaningful form the matrix of differing experiences.

Elemental, united in vision of present and future,

the pure line, whose innocence denies inhibitions.

Full paper can be found here.

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