Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo Romanus Egudu - Essay

Romanus Egudu

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Critics have] hinted that Christopher Okigbo … widely accepted as the greatest of modern African poets, was influenced by Ezra Pound…. [It is in the] technical aspects of style that Pound's influence on Okigbo can be fruitfully and meaningfully established.

What has often bothered me is the fact that Okigbo has always, whether deliberately or not, omitted Pound's name from the list of those who have influenced him; and yet Pound's influence on him is enormous…. It is because of the fact that Okigbo might, very likely, have deliberately kept silent about Pound and the fact that Pound's influence is vast and has, it seems to me, helped to make his poetry difficult that I consider this topic worth investigating. (pp. 144-45)

While Okigbo shows the same kind of tendency toward "imagemaking" and "melody-making" that Pound does, it cannot be argued that the former must necessarily have inherited this trait from the latter; for in the final analysis, imagery and sound are indispensable elements of good poetry. (p. 145)

The influence of Pound on Okigbo is more direct and obvious in other ways. First, both poets share the technique of having a descriptive or lyrical passage followed by a vivid image, which epitomizes and clinches the passage or resolves the mystery therein. It has been remarked that "Earl Miner, the closest student of Japanese influences on Pound, calls this the 'super pository method.'" (p. 146)

This method is used many times in Okigbo's work. The poem "Passage I" demonstrates it…. The last line of this poem is a vivid image demonstrating not only the solitude of the poet mourning a lost "mother," or goddess (which is partially what the poem is about), but also the uncertainty that shrouds him as he is immersed in the "dark waters of the beginning." Although the theme of Okigbo's poem differs from those of Pound's, yet there is a similar atmosphere of solitude in both cases.

The poem "Watermaid 1," which deals with the secrecy of love and the loneliness of a boy waiting in vain for the arrival of his girl friend, also employs the "super pository" style…. Okigbo's extraordinary power of image making can hardly be better illustrated by any other of his poems. All through the poem one gets the impression that the poet is in a secret, hollow, fragile situation…. It should be warned here that the peculiarity of...

(The entire section is 993 words.)