Kofi Awoonor

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What is the verse form of "The Weaver Bird" by Kofi Awoonor?

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The verse form of “The Weaver Bird” by Kofi Awoonor is irregular and largely unrhymed. Although the only line endings that rhyme, “nest” and “west” are significant in that they relate to the poem's theme of the negative effects of the colonization of Africa by white Europeans.

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In “The Weaver Bird,” Kofi Awoonor uses irregular line lengths throughout. The dominant meter, however, is iambic tetrameter, or four iambic feet—“duh-DUM”—in a line. For example, in the very first line of the poem, we have:

The weaver bird built in our house. (Emphasis on stressed syllables added)

This meter can also be observed in the fourth line:

We watched the building of the nest.

Once again, the stressed syllables have been highlighted.

What's particularly notable about this line is that it provides us with the only rhyme in the poem. The word “nest” rhymes with “west,” which comes at the end of the eighth line. “Nest” is repeated in line twelve, where we are told that the horizons of the indigenous Africans are limited by the nest, meaning the settlements being built by white colonialists.

The weaver bird is a metaphor for white colonialism in Africa. It has come from the West to build its nest in a new continent, and before long has taken over the place, fouling ancient shrines with its excrement.

One can see why Awoonor chooses to rhyme “nest” with “west” and make it the only rhyme in the poem. He wishes to emphasize the fact that the two—Western colonialism and the settlements it has established at the expense of the natives—are inextricably linked. In other words, colonialism, far from being a noble civilizing mission, is a thoroughly shabby venture that involves taking over native lands and forcing indigenous people to find somewhere else to live:

We look for new homes every day.

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