Things Fall Apart and Achebe
Achebe’s collection of brief fiction and prose pieces covered a duration of twenty years, tracing his advancement and changing preoccupations as an author. His volume of poetry, on the other hand, spans a much shorter period and is merged by its concentrate on the civil war and the physical, social and mental consequences of that war. Achebe composed a collection of poems in which the very first poem was named “1966”. It refers to the months preceding the outbreak of the civil war. “Benin Roadway” is another poem which uses up an associated theme of the unexpected but inevitable convergence of delicate beauty or idealism and power.
In this poem the chauffeur is identified with his vehicle whose speed, power and weight all correspond with violence and whose windshield is the “silicon hardness” of his own vision. The poem has to do with the conflicting desires within each person for power and charm. And the mild Butterfly pops open In a bright yellow Smear in the silicon Solidity of my vision. “Mango Seedling” is a poem dedicated to Christopher Okigbo, whom Achebe together with numerous others regarded as Nigeria’s leading poet and who was killed defending Biafra in 1967.
Like Okigbo’s own poetry, it draws on a mix of Igbo and European allusions. The poem commemorates courage and decision of Okigbo. Poised in bold impartiality In between the primitive quarrel of Earth And sky making every effort bravely to sink roots Into neutrality, mid-air in stone. These lines illustrate how skillfully Achebe is able to use language, rhythm and syntax to increase the significance. The poem records the effects of war in term of individual loss or individual suffering. “Remembrance day” is based on a contrast between an imported European ritual and an African point of view.
Military ceremonies and salutations for the fallen soldiers are a function of “Remembrance day” in Europe and contemporary Nigeria. These are contrasted with the Igbo observance called “Oso Nwandi” which Achebe discusses in his note to the poem that all able-bodied males in the town took flight and entered into hiding in surrounding villages in order to leave the fire of Nwandi or dead kindred killed in war. Although Igbo people appreciate guts, Achebe goes on to discuss that they do not glorify death and they are strongly encouraged that life is more suitable to death.
In similar way to “Remembrance” the poem “Be careful Soul Sibling” promotes past as well as future generations and reminds the reader and the artist of their responsibility to the community which is the requirement to believe and speak in terms of ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. This point can also be related to Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” in which Okonkwo is always offering importance to himself and is stating “I” even when the british came he said that he is alone going to battle them even if the town is not with him.