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Lament of the Flutes


Wednesday, July 25, 2007.


By Christopher Okigbo



fold-over-fold free-furrow

mingling old tunes with new.

Tidewash.....Ride me

memories, astride on firm

saddle, wreathed with white

lillies & roses of blood.....


Sing to the rustic flute:

Sing a new note...


Where are the Maytime flowers,

where the roses? What will the

Watermaid bring at sundown,

a garland? A handful of tears?

Sing to the rustic flute:

Sing a new note...


Comes Dawn

gasping thro worn lungs,

Day breathes,

panting like torn horse -


We follow the wind to the fields

Bruising grass leafblade and corn...


Sundown: I draw in my egg head.

Night falls

smearing sore bruises with Sloan's

boring new holes in old sheets -


We hear them, the talkative pines,

And nightbirds and woodnymphs afar off ...


Shall I answer their call,

creep on my underself

out of my snug hole, out of my shell

to the rocks and the fringe for cleansing?

Shall I offer to Idoto

my sandhouse and bones,

then write no more snow-patch?


Sing to the rustic flute.

Sing a new note.


Editor's note: Culled from Christopher Okigbo's Collected Poems. Published by Heinemann Publishers (London). Copyright of Christopher Okigbo.


Main Picture courtesy of The University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies.


Christopher Okigbo is one of Africa's greatest poets. Born in Ojoto, Eastern Nigeria in 1932, he attended Government College, Umuahia, before reading Classics at The University of Ibadan.


He was a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, before joining the Biafran side during the Nigerian Civil War. Since his death in 1967 during the war, Okigbo has become legendary in the field of African poetry and as a source of insipiration for younger writers.


Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka have both dedicated poems to his memory.


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