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POST-COLONIAL POETRY ANALYSIS

VULTURES BY CHINUA ACHEBE

In The Post Colonial Studies Reader (Routledge 2003), a book edited by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin is mentioned a name Chinua Achebe that his writings Colonialist Criticism and Named for Victoria, Queen of England are included within. Chinua Achebe is the first African post-colonial writer, a Nigerian novelist of genius, and the father of African Novel whose the first novel Things Fall Apart (which is the title is taken from William Butler Yeats The Second Coming) is being the greatest post-war novel in English. One of his poem entitled Vultures that Im about to analyze is setted in World War II, but it is relevent to all human conflict. Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian writer who probably familiar with the sight of vultures, which are scavenging birds, eat the carcass of a dead animal.

The opening of the poem is described as a bleak and depressing setting: greyness. The greyness emphasizes the dark side by giving an alliteration drizzle of one despondent dawn (line2) where even the sunbreak (Line4) does not make the atmosphere alive. A pair of vultures are sitting together on the branch of a tree. There are metaphors of horror and death: the dead tree (Line6) branch which the vultures roost on is described as a broken bone (Line5) which is another alliteration to make the horror feeling more strong. The metaphor of the pebble refers to the vultures head which is small in comparison to its body, and the adjectives dump and gross emphasise how ugly the bird is. The last three lines of the first section, the poet describes The corpse as a hollow remnant which the vultures observed with cold telescopic eyes. The Vultures are metaphoric of a Nazi commandant who preys hepless people greedily and unmercifully. The poem begins with a dreadful description of a pair of vultures who nestle (embrace) one to another affectionately after eating a corpse.
In the greyness and drizzle of one despondent dawn unstirred by harbingers of sunbreak a vulture perching high on broken bone of a dead tree nestled close to his mate his smooth

bashed-in head, a pebble on a stem rooted in a dump of gross feathers, inclined affectionately to hers. Yesterday they picked the eyes of a swollen corpse in a water-logged trench and ate the things in its bowel. Full gorged they chose their roost keeping the hollowed remnant in easy range of cold telescopic eyes

The statement they picked/the eyes of a swollen/corpse in a water-logged/trench and ate the things in its bowel is stereotypical impression of vultures. In contrast with the statement nestled close to his mate. It doesnt fit with the characteristics of vulture at all. In the second section the poet comments on the strange love existing in unexpected places. Love is personified as a woman who can even sleep sleep in that charnel house (Line26), a building where bodies or bones are stored. She sleeps with her face to the wall (Line 28) like she doesnt care to what is happening behind.
Strange indeed how love in other ways so particular will pick a corner in that charnel-house tidy it and coil up there, perhaps even fall asleep - her face turned to the wall!

On the third section, he describes the Belsen Commandant, the mass murderer is called Daddy that after spent the day doing horrified work in burning human corpses, he then buys his child sweets on the way home.
Thus the Commandant at Belsen Camp going home for the day with fumes of human roast clinging

rebelliously to his hairy nostrils will stop at the wayside sweet-shop and pick up a chocolate for his tender offspring waiting at home for Daddys return

The Commandant is in charge in the mass murder of Jews ( Holocaust ) where Jews are tortured and executed cruelly by the German Nazi regime. The word roast is associated with human flesh who are burned. This is a shocking and horrifying circumstance. The smell does not go away so easily, and he can smell it until the sweet shop but he just walk and not even feel guilty just like the vultures that have no regret in torturing and killing. The poet uses the word Daddy instead of father that is more affectionate and endearing term seems to show how normal his role as a father to his tender offspring and back at home with the gifts he has brought them. The irony here showed up that the Commandant is anything but a normal man but he did and saw brutal torture and murder of human beings day after day. In the fourth section the poet uses more metaphors. The evil Commandant is seen as an ogre with a tiny glow of love or tenderness inside him, which is like the glow worm. The germ of love does not grow as a normal seed because of the perpetuity of evil (Line 50) prevents it from developing. Germ here refers to something like a seed rather than a germ of disease.
Praise bounteous providence if you will that grants even an ogre a tiny glow-worm tenderness encapsulated in icy caverns of a cruel heart or else despair for in every germ of that kindred love is lodged the perpetuity of evil.

At the ending, the poet praises providence that even the cruelest creatures have love. Achebe uses metaphor once again, this time to convey how cold the Commandants heart is tenderness encapsulated / in icy caverns of a cruel / heart. He expresses the poem in ironic tone that love and cruelty blends. These creatures show love for their families only and

allow themselves to do something cruel towards others. Even though there is a sense of love but the evil side is more dominant therefore on the whole we just can see the evil things. The description of the vultures is in the past tense, whereas the Belsen Commandant is described in the present continuous tense, perhaps to show us that evil is around us now. The poem conveys theme that love can also carry out acts of great evil and in turn, creatures that carry out acts of great evil can also love. There is a thin line between love and hate. The poem is written in a free verse and divided into four sections. Each is marked by an indented line rather than a new stanza. The dictions overall paint pictures of gruesome, disgusting and miserable details to describe the characteristics of vulture and its environment such as greyness, despondent, broken bone, dead tree, dump, gross feathers, picked the eyes, swollen corpses, trench, hollowed remnant, human roast, hairy nostrils, ogre, icy cavern, cruel heart, despair and evil. The poet presents the vultures as vicious figures, and their moment of tenderness surprises the reader. This is the dual nature that is prepared for the reader to evoke more emotion and its uniqueness makes this poem interesting even more. Chinua Achebe is the first Nigerian writer who successfully transmute the conventions a European art form into African literature. He wrote boldly and objectively and helped reshape the perception of African history and culture in world affairs. He said, "art is, and always was, at the service of man. Our ancestors created their myths and told their stories for a human purpose. Any good story, any good novel, should have a message, should have a purpose." Achebe believes that artistic and literary works must deal primarily with the problems of society. Just like other Postcolonial writers, Achebe explore the characteristics of the hegemony and articulates the emotional life of decolonizaton country in its influence. Black African writers turnes up triggered by Harlem Renaissance mostly talk about Postcolonial issues such as Whites domination, suppression, discrimination, racism and also The politic Apartheid. They write critical works with their concept of Negritude where all people of negro descent shared certain characteristics. It is as an attempt to extend perceptions of the negro as possessing a distinctive personality with their own intellectual, emotional and physical and to affirm African cultural heritage as the values of the civilization of the African world. They want white people respect it because what they should have known that we are not born by the culture but we are born in the culture. Race and ethnic is a natural thing that we cant deny or we can create by ourselves. It is the gift of God as our identity for us to accept it and respect it.

APPENDIX

VULTURES
By: Chinua Achebe

In the greyness and drizzle of one despondent dawn unstirred by harbingers of sunbreak a vulture perching high on broken bone of a dead tree nestled close to his mate his smooth bashed-in head, a pebble on a stem rooted in a dump of gross feathers, inclined affectionately to hers. Yesterday they picked the eyes of a swollen corpse in a water-logged trench and ate the things in its bowel. Full gorged they chose their roost keeping the hollowed remnant in easy range of cold telescopic eyes Strange indeed how love in other ways so particular will pick a corner in that charnel-house tidy it and coil up there, perhaps even fall asleep - her face turned to the wall! Thus the Commandant at Belsen Camp going home for the day with fumes of human roast clinging rebelliously to his hairy nostrils will stop at the wayside sweet-shop and pick up a chocolate for his tender offspring waiting at home for Daddys return Praise bounteous providence if you will that grants even an ogre a tiny glow-worm tenderness encapsulated in icy caverns of a cruel heart or else despair for in every germ of that kindred love is lodged the perpetuity of evil.

GLOSSARY

Belsen Camp Bergen Belsen was one of the mot notorious concentration camps of the Second World War.
It became a camp for those who were too weak or sick to work and many people died because of the terrible conditions. Anne Frank was interned there and died of typhus in 1945. The camp was liberated in 1945.

Bounteous Generous, openhanded, bighearted Bowel Intestine, gut Cavern A large and deep cave Charnel-house A vault where dead bodies or bones are piled up Coil up To roll or twist in a spiral course Encapsulate To cover something so it will not touch by anything else as if a capsul Gorge Overeat Harbinger Predecessor, forerunner Lodge Stay, reside, occupy Nestle Drawn or pressed close to someone or something for affection or protection Offspring Young, immature descendants of a person Ogre Man-eating giant, monster Perpetuity Never-ending, everlasting Providence Kindly care of God or Nature Remnant Leftover, a small part that remains after the main part no longer exist Roost Perch Unstirred Not agiated by stirring Water-logged trench soft and watery ditch