"Piano and Drums" DRUMS by Gabriel Okara: Discuss the following poem, commenting in particular on the ways in which the narrator responds to the two kinds of music.

Essay by nzmickyHigh School, 11th grade September 2006

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"Piano and Drums" is a poem that accurately explores the trying conflict of merging a traditional culture with a new, modern civilisation. The author Gabriel Okara, who also doubles as the narrator in the poem, responds to the drums as his tribal heritage and the simplicity of youth, while he sees the piano as the foreign customs irrelevant to the black society, with the complexity of experience.

Throughout "Piano and Drums", Okara's choice of diction is used to show his response to the two kinds of music. Firstly he seems to link the drums with the time-honoured tradition of the African past life. In the first stanza, Okara responds to the drums as if they were in battle, perhaps against the unfamiliar settlers; the "jungle drums telegraphing" indicates an old way of communication, as telegraphing literally means to transmit messages, and "jungle" connotes primitive yet majestic, and something that the narrator is not afraid of.

The fact that the drums are "telegraphing" shows that Okara understands them and is comfortable with their way of communication, which contrasts to the "wailing piano" and "tear-furrowed concerto". A piano is seldom described as "wailing" and a classical piece of music is not usually "tear-furrowed" which suggests that the narrator does not appreciate the complexity of the piano as he is unaccustomed to it. This links to the narrator's response of the piano articulating the new European ways of living and the drums expressing his home land. This image of the drums is furthered by "panther ready to pounce", and "leopard snarling about to leap" which is energetic and youthful diction. Both the panther and leopard symbolise the part of the untouched Africa but the "pounce" and "snarling" signify that the their world has been changed, and the relationship between...