The Complete Analysis of the poem "Come Thunder by Christopher Okigbo.

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 Title of the poem

The title "Come Thunder" suggests an impending and forceful event, likely with elements of power and danger. The poem seems to convey a sense of urgency and forewarning, urging the dancers to remember the ominous signs in the midst of celebration. The imagery of thunder, lightning, and the smell of blood sets a tone of impending crisis, emphasizing the poet's concern about societal and political upheaval, possibly alluding to the turbulent times and challenges faced by the society described in the poem.

Themes of the poem

The poem "Come Thunder" by Christopher Okigbo explores several interconnected themes:

1. **Impending Crisis:** The poem conveys a sense of impending crisis, with images of thunder, lightning, and the smell of blood. There's a foreboding atmosphere, suggesting that a significant and potentially destructive event is on the horizon.

2. **Political Unrest:** References to "corridors of power" and "death sentence" allude to political unrest and the potential abuse of authority. The poem reflects a concern about the dangers lurking within the political landscape.

3. **Symbolism of Thunder and Lightning:** Thunder and lightning are powerful natural symbols often associated with divine or cosmic forces. In the poem, they serve as metaphors for the upheavals and challenges faced by society, carrying a weight of both warning and consequence.

4. **Abandonment and Desolation:** The mention of "homesteads abandoned" and "deserted corn cobs" suggests a theme of abandonment and desolation, possibly pointing to the aftermath of societal and political turmoil, leaving landscapes and communities in ruins.

5. **Cultural Loss:** The imagery of "magic birds with the miracle of lightning" and the "arrows of God" may carry cultural or spiritual significance. The poem hints at the potential loss or endangerment of cultural and spiritual elements in the face of the impending crisis.

6. **Dance of Death:** The reference to the "drums of curfew" and the "dance of death" suggests a macabre and fatalistic theme. The poem explores the darker aspects of human existence, with the dance serving as a metaphor for the inevitable march towards an uncertain future.

Overall, "Come Thunder" delves into the complex interplay of political, cultural, and existential themes, using vivid imagery and symbolism to convey a sense of apprehension and the looming challenges faced by the society depicted in the poem.

Tone and Mood of the poem

**Tone:** The tone of the poem "Come Thunder" is ominous and foreboding. The poet employs language that conveys a sense of impending crisis and urgency. The use of phrases such as "death sentence," "thunder among the clouds," and "iron dream unnamed and unprintable" creates a mood of gravity and seriousness. There's a palpable concern and a warning tone, urging the readers to take heed of the potential dangers and upheavals the poem anticipates.

**Mood:** The mood of the poem is somber and unsettling. The vivid imagery of thunder, lightning, and the smell of blood contributes to a mood of discomfort and unease. The impending sense of danger and the portrayal of abandoned homesteads and burning barns evoke a mood of desolation and melancholy. The poem creates a mood that is reflective of the challenging and turbulent times it describes, prompting the readers to confront the darker aspects of human existence and societal upheaval.

Imagery of the poem

The poem "Come Thunder" by Christopher Okigbo is rich in vivid imagery, using evocative language to paint a picture of the impending crisis and societal upheaval it addresses. Here are some key elements of imagery from the poem:

1. **Thunder and Lightning:** These natural elements serve as potent symbols throughout the poem, conveying a sense of power, impending danger, and cosmic forces at play. The imagery of thunder among the clouds and the lightning beyond the earth adds a dramatic and ominous layer to the poem.

2. **Smell of Blood:** The olfactory imagery of blood floating in the lavender-mist of the afternoon creates a visceral and unsettling image. It suggests violence, sacrifice, and the tangible consequences of the anticipated crisis.

3. **Corridors of Power:** This phrase conjures up images of political spaces and institutions. The poem uses this imagery to suggest that the danger lies within the political structures and decisions of those in positions of authority.

4. **Nebula and Night of Deep Waters:** The poem introduces cosmic and aquatic imagery with phrases like "nebula immense and immeasurable" and "night of deep waters." These images evoke a sense of vastness, mystery, and the unknown, emphasizing the scale and complexity of the impending crisis.

5. **Burning Barns and Abandoned Homesteads:** The visual imagery of burning barns and abandoned homesteads paints a scene of destruction and desolation, emphasizing the aftermath of societal turmoil. It adds a layer of concrete, tangible imagery to the poem's warnings.

6. **Magic Birds with the Miracle of Lightning:** This imagery combines the mystical and the powerful. The idea of birds with the miracle of lightning on their feathers introduces a fantastical element, possibly symbolizing the transcendence of natural forces and their impact on the world.

7. **Arrows of God and Drums of Curfew:** These images contribute to a sense of impending judgment and control. The arrows of God suggest divine intervention or retribution, while the drums of curfew imply a restriction on freedom and a preparation for a dance of death.

The poem weaves together these vivid images to create a tapestry of warning, conveying a complex and layered vision of the challenges and upheavals faced by the society it portrays.

Symbolism of the poem

"Come Thunder" by Christopher Okigbo employs rich symbolism to convey its themes and messages. Here are some key symbols in the poem:

1. **Thunder and Lightning:** Symbolize powerful and potentially destructive forces. They serve as metaphors for the imminent crisis and upheaval faced by society, suggesting both the warning signs and the consequential impact of the impending events.

2. **Smell of Blood:** Symbolizes violence, sacrifice, and the human cost of the anticipated crisis. The olfactory imagery of blood in the lavender-mist adds a visceral and unsettling dimension to the poem, representing the tangible consequences of political and societal unrest.

3. **Corridors of Power:** Symbolize the political institutions and decision-making centers where the potential for abuse of authority and political unrest resides. The phrase suggests that the danger and impending crisis are rooted in the structures of power.

4. **Nebula and Night of Deep Waters:** Symbolize the vast and mysterious nature of the impending crisis. These cosmic and aquatic images evoke a sense of the unknown, emphasizing the complexity and scale of the challenges faced by society.

5. **Burning Barns and Abandoned Homesteads:** Symbolize the aftermath of societal turmoil and political upheaval. The imagery of destruction and desolation suggests the impact of these events on communities and landscapes.

6. **Magic Birds with the Miracle of Lightning:** Symbolize mystical and transformative elements. The birds with lightning on their feathers suggest a fantastical and otherworldly dimension, possibly representing the transcendent nature of the natural forces at play.

7. **Arrows of God and Drums of Curfew:** Symbolize divine intervention, judgment, and control. The arrows of God suggest a higher power at play, while the drums of curfew imply restrictions and a preparation for a dance of death, emphasizing the fatalistic theme.

These symbols collectively contribute to the depth and complexity of the poem, allowing readers to interpret its meaning on various levels. They provide a nuanced understanding of the poet's commentary on political, societal, and existential challenges.

Metaphors and similes

"Come Thunder" by Christopher Okigbo contains several metaphors and similes that enhance the poem's imagery and convey its themes. Here are some examples:

1. **Metaphor - "thunder among the clouds":** The thunder is metaphorically placed among the clouds, suggesting a hidden and imminent danger within the overarching structures of society.

2. **Simile - "laughter, broken in two, hangs tremulous between the teeth":** The comparison of laughter to something "broken in two" creates a simile that evokes a sense of fracture and unease, emphasizing the discord within the celebratory atmosphere.

3. **Metaphor - "lightning beyond the earth":** The lightning is metaphorically situated beyond the earth, symbolizing forces that transcend the mundane and have a cosmic or otherworldly significance.

4. **Simile - "smell of blood already floats in the lavender-mist of the afternoon":** The comparison of the smell of blood to something that "floats in the lavender-mist" creates a vivid simile, combining sensory elements to convey a haunting and atmospheric image.

5. **Metaphor - "death sentence lies in ambush along the corridors of power":** The death sentence is metaphorically depicted as lying in ambush, suggesting a hidden threat within the structures of political authority.

6. **Metaphor - "nebula immense and immeasurable, a night of deep waters":** The nebula and night of deep waters are metaphors conveying the vastness and mystery of the impending crisis, using cosmic and aquatic imagery.

7. **Simile - "arrows of God tremble at the gates of light":** The comparison of arrows to something that "trembles at the gates of light" creates a simile emphasizing the anticipation and divine nature of the impending judgment or intervention.

8. **Metaphor - "drums of curfew pander to a dance of death":** The drums of curfew are metaphorically linked to a dance of death, conveying a sense of fatalistic inevitability and controlled, rhythmic movement toward an ominous end.

These literary devices contribute to the depth and intensity of the poem, allowing the poet to convey complex emotions and ideas through evocative language.

Language and diction

In "Come Thunder," Christopher Okigbo employs a distinctive language and diction that contribute to the poem's depth and impact. Here are some aspects of the language and diction in the poem:

1. **Formal and Elevated Language:** The poet uses formal and elevated language, contributing to the gravity of the poem. This choice of language adds a sense of importance to the themes and messages being conveyed.

2. **Imagery-Rich Diction:** The poet employs vivid and evocative imagery throughout the poem. Phrases such as "thunder among the clouds," "lavender-mist of the afternoon," and "arrows of God" create powerful mental images, enhancing the sensory experience of the reader.

3. **Symbolic and Metaphorical Language:** The language is rich in symbolism and metaphor, allowing the poet to convey complex ideas through figurative expression. This symbolic language adds layers of meaning and invites interpretation.

4. **Ominous and Foreboding Tone:** The choice of words contributes to the ominous and foreboding tone of the poem. Words such as "death sentence," "iron dream," and "dance of death" carry weight and create a sense of impending crisis.

5. **Cultural and Spiritual References:** The poet includes cultural and spiritual references in the language, such as "arrows of God" and "magic birds." These references add cultural depth and may carry specific meanings within the context of the poet's cultural background.

6. **Alliteration and Assonance:** The poem includes instances of alliteration and assonance, contributing to its rhythmic quality. For example, "triumphant march" and "broken in two" enhance the musicality of the language.

7. **Complex Syntax:** The poem features complex sentence structures, reflecting a deliberate and careful construction. This complexity adds a layer of sophistication to the language and encourages a thoughtful engagement with the text.

8. **Concise and Precise Language:** While the language is rich, it is also concise and precise. The poet communicates profound ideas using carefully chosen words, contributing to the poem's efficiency and impact.

Overall, the language and diction in "Come Thunder" showcase Okigbo's skill in crafting a poem that is both linguistically rich and thematically profound. The careful choice of words and the use of literary devices contribute to the poem's overall effectiveness in conveying its messages and emotions.

Structure of the poem

The structure of "Come Thunder" by Christopher Okigbo contributes to the poem's impact and meaning. Here are some aspects of the poem's structure:

1. **Stanza Structure:** The poem is organized into stanzas of varying lengths. This creates a sense of rhythm and allows for shifts in tone and theme within the poem. The stanzas often group related ideas and images together.

2. **Free Verse:** The poem follows a free verse structure, lacking a consistent rhyme scheme or strict meter. This gives Okigbo the freedom to use language more flexibly and to create a natural and conversational flow, while still maintaining a sense of musicality through other poetic devices.

3. **Enjambment:** The use of enjambment is prevalent in the poem. Lines often flow into the next without a pause at the end, contributing to a continuous and seamless reading experience. This technique can also create a sense of urgency and anticipation.

4. **Repetition:** There is repetition of phrases such as "Remember, O dancers" and "witness it." This repetition emphasizes key themes and ideas, serving as a rhetorical device to reinforce the poet's message.

5. **Shifts in Tone and Imagery:** The poem exhibits shifts in tone and imagery, moving from celebratory scenes to ominous warnings. These shifts contribute to the complexity of the poem, keeping the reader engaged and prompting reflection on the contrasts presented.

6. **Symbolic Language Placement:** Symbols such as thunder, lightning, and blood are strategically placed throughout the poem. The poet's careful arrangement of these symbols contributes to the overall thematic cohesion and provides a structured exploration of the impending crisis.

7. **Use of Literary Devices:** Literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and symbolism are integrated into the structure. These devices enhance the depth of the poem, allowing Okigbo to convey complex ideas and emotions through figurative language.

8. **Cohesive Narrative Thread:** While the poem explores various themes and images, there is a cohesive narrative thread that weaves through the stanzas. The poet skillfully connects disparate elements to create a unified and impactful poetic expression.

The combination of these structural elements allows Okigbo to craft a poem that is both nuanced and emotionally resonant. The dynamic structure, free verse form, and strategic use of literary devices contribute to the poem's effectiveness in conveying its themes and evoking a response from the reader.

Sound and rhythm

"Come Thunder" exhibits sound and rhythm elements that contribute to the overall musicality and impact of the poem:

1. **Alliteration:** The poem includes instances of alliteration, where the same consonant sound is repeated at the beginning of words in close proximity. For example, in the line "triumphant march," the repetition of the "m" sound adds a rhythmic quality to the phrase.

2. **Assonance:** There are instances of assonance, where vowel sounds are repeated in nearby words. For instance, in the line "already floats in the lavender-mist," the repetition of the long "o" sound contributes to the poem's musicality.

3. **Consonance:** Consonance, the repetition of consonant sounds within or at the end of words, is present in phrases like "already tugs at the cables," where the repeated "t" sound creates a rhythmic pattern.

4. **Rhythmic Flow:** The poem has a rhythmic flow, aided by the poet's use of free verse. While there isn't a strict meter, the arrangement of words and phrases creates a natural cadence, allowing the poem to be read with a certain musicality.

5. **Enjambment:** The use of enjambment, where lines flow into one another without a pause, contributes to the poem's rhythm. It maintains a sense of continuity and propels the reader forward, creating a dynamic and flowing movement.

6. **Repetition:** The repetition of certain phrases, such as "Remember, O dancers," serves both thematic and rhythmic purposes. It provides a structural element to the poem while also contributing to its musical quality.

7. **Varied Line Lengths:** The poem employs varied line lengths, contributing to its rhythm. Shorter lines can create a sense of urgency or emphasis, while longer lines allow for a more contemplative and expansive reading experience.

8. **Onomatopoeia:** Although not extensively used, there are instances of onomatopoeic words, like "thunder," which, when pronounced, mimics the sound it represents. This adds a sensory and auditory dimension to the poem.

The combination of these sound and rhythm elements creates a poem that can be read aloud with a certain melodic quality. It enhances the emotional impact of the language, allowing the reader to experience the poem not only intellectually but also through its auditory and rhythmic dimensions.


..The syntax in "Come Thunder" by Christopher Okigbo plays a crucial role in shaping the poem's meaning and impact. Here are some aspects of the poem's syntax:

1. **Complex Sentence Structure:** The poem features complex sentence structures, with clauses and phrases intricately woven together. This complexity contributes to the richness of the language and allows for the exploration of multiple ideas within a single sentence.

2. **Enjambment:** The poem utilizes enjambment extensively, with lines flowing seamlessly into the next without a pause. This technique creates a continuous and uninterrupted rhythm, contributing to the urgency and momentum of the poem.

3. **Parallelism:** There is a use of parallelism, where similar grammatical structures or syntactical patterns are repeated. For example, the repetition of the imperative "Remember, O dancers" creates a parallel structure, emphasizing a consistent call to awareness.

4. **Ellipsis:** The poet employs ellipsis, the omission of words, to create a sense of anticipation or to invite readers to fill in the gaps. For instance, "A nebula immense and immeasurable, a night of deep waters" leaves room for interpretation, adding to the poem's enigmatic quality.

5. **Inversion:** There are instances of inversion, where the typical word order is reversed for emphasis or poetic effect. An example is "Remember, O dancers, the thunder among the clouds," where the normal order would be "Remember the thunder among the clouds, O dancers."

6. **Emphasis on Nouns:** The poet often places emphasis on nouns, especially those carrying symbolic weight. Phrases like "corridors of power," "arrows of God," and "drums of curfew" highlight key concepts and contribute to the thematic depth of the poem.

7. **Concise and Precise Language:** Despite the complexity, the language used is concise and precise. The poet communicates profound ideas with carefully chosen words, contributing to the poem's efficiency and impact.

8. **Fragmentation:** The poem includes moments of fragmentation, where ideas are presented in short, fragmented phrases. This style can create a sense of immediacy and intensity, as seen in the lines "And a great fearful thing already tugs at the cables of the open air."

The intricate syntax of "Come Thunder" adds layers of meaning to the poem, inviting readers to engage with its themes and images through a careful consideration of language structure and arrangement.


"Come Thunder" was written by Christopher Okigbo, a Nigerian poet, in the context of the socio-political and cultural landscape of Nigeria during the mid-20th century. Okigbo, born in 1932, lived during a period of significant change and turmoil in Nigeria, which gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

Here are some key contextual points:

1. **Nigerian Independence and Postcolonial Era:** The poem was likely written in the postcolonial period when Nigeria gained independence in 1960. This era was marked by optimism, but also by the challenges of nation-building, political instability, and the struggle for identity in the aftermath of colonial rule.

2. **Biafran Civil War:** The poem was written during a time when Nigeria experienced internal conflict, notably the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) also known as the Biafran War. The war was a result of political, ethnic, and economic tensions, particularly involving the secessionist state of Biafra. Okigbo himself was involved in the conflict and tragically lost his life during the war.

3. **Cultural and Political Unrest:** The poem reflects the poet's concerns about political corruption, abuse of power, and the potential loss of cultural and spiritual values in the face of societal upheaval. The reference to "corridors of power" and the "arrows of God" suggests a critical engagement with political and spiritual themes.

4. **African Identity and Tradition:** Okigbo, like many African writers of his time, grappled with questions of identity and the preservation of African cultural and spiritual values in the wake of colonial influence. The poem's imagery and symbolism may be seen as an exploration of these themes.

5. **Personal and Artistic Expression:** Okigbo was not only a poet but also a scholar and an advocate for the arts. His works often reflect a fusion of traditional Igbo culture with modern influences. "Come Thunder" can be seen as a part of Okigbo's larger body of work, which sought to express the complexities of his time through poetry.

Understanding the historical and cultural context in which Okigbo wrote "Come Thunder" provides valuable insights into the themes and concerns that shaped the poem. It allows readers to appreciate the depth of Okigbo's engagement with the challenges and transformations of postcolonial Nigeria.

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