The Complete Analysis of the poem Lustra by Christopher Okigbo.

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 Title of the poem

The title "Lustra" suggests a theme of purification or cleansing. In the context of the poem by Christopher Okigbo, the speaker expresses a desire to return to the hills, drawing from a fountain and climbing to hilltops for a cleansing experience. The repetition of "So would I" emphasizes this longing for purification, and the imagery of being whitewashed in the moondew reinforces the idea of a spiritual or symbolic cleansing. The mention of a new-laid egg and a white hen at midterm could symbolize new beginnings and fertility, further contributing to the theme of renewal and purification in the poem.

Themes of the poem

The poem "Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo explores several themes, including:

1. **Desire for Purification:** The repeated expression "So would I" reflects a deep desire for purification and cleansing. The speaker seeks a spiritual renewal, symbolized by drawing from a fountain and being whitewashed in the moondew.

2. **Connection to Nature:** The poem is rich in natural imagery, with references to hills, springs, and moonmist. The speaker expresses a yearning to reconnect with nature, suggesting a belief in the cleansing and rejuvenating power of the natural world.

3. **Journey and Ascent:** The act of climbing to hilltops and drawing from a fountain implies a journey and ascent, both physically and spiritually. This journey may symbolize a quest for self-discovery or transcendence.

4. **Symbolism of the Egg and Hen:** The mention of a new-laid egg and a white hen at midterm introduces symbolism related to fertility, new beginnings, and the cyclical nature of life. These symbols contribute to the overall theme of renewal and regeneration.

5. **Spirituality and Mysticism:** The poem carries a sense of mysticism, particularly with references to moonmist and hilltop cleansing. The speaker's quest for purification can be interpreted as a spiritual endeavor, with elements of ritual and transcendence.

Overall, "Lustra" delves into themes of spiritual longing, the transformative power of nature, and the symbolic journey towards purification and renewal.

Tone and Mood of the poem

The tone of "Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo is contemplative and yearning. The repetition of the phrase "So would I" suggests a persistent desire or longing, creating a reflective tone throughout the poem. The speaker's contemplation on returning to the hills and seeking purification contributes to a meditative atmosphere.

The mood of the poem is both reflective and aspirational. There's a sense of introspection as the speaker considers the desire for cleansing and connection with nature. The natural imagery and the ritualistic elements evoke a mood of reverence and spiritual contemplation. Overall, the mood can be described as a blend of introspective reflection and a hopeful yearning for renewal.

Imagery of the poem

"Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo is rich in vivid imagery that contributes to the overall atmosphere of the poem. Here are some key elements of imagery:

1. **Natural Landscape:** The poem is steeped in imagery related to nature, featuring hills, springs, moonmist, and moondew. These natural elements create a vivid backdrop for the speaker's contemplation and contribute to a sense of the sublime.

2. **Cleansing Rituals:** The imagery of drawing from a fountain and being whitewashed in the moondew suggests ritualistic cleansing. These actions evoke a sensory experience, emphasizing the symbolic purification sought by the speaker.

3. **Ascent to Hilltops:** The act of climbing to hilltops is a recurring image in the poem, symbolizing a physical and spiritual ascent. The hill becomes a symbolic space for contemplation and renewal.

4. **Egg and Hen:** The image of a new-laid egg and a white hen at midterm introduces fertility and renewal. These images may symbolize the cyclical nature of life and the potential for new beginnings.

5. **Moonlit Scenes:** References to moonmist and moonlight create a mystical atmosphere. The moonlight serves as a transformative element, adding to the spiritual and contemplative mood of the poem.

6. **Visualizing Desire:** The repetition of "So would I" contributes to the visual imagery of the speaker's desires. It reinforces the contemplative nature of the poem, emphasizing the mental images of returning to nature and undergoing purification.

The combination of these images paints a picture of a speaker deeply connected to nature, engaged in a contemplative journey, and seeking purification through ritualistic and symbolic actions.

Symbolism of the poem

"Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo incorporates various symbols that carry deeper meanings within the context of the poem:

1. **Hills:** Symbolize a higher plane or spiritual realm. The speaker's desire to return to the hills suggests a quest for elevation, both physically and metaphorically, seeking a higher understanding or enlightenment.

2. **Fountain:** Represents a source of purity and life. Drawing from the fountain symbolizes the speaker's quest for cleansing and renewal, perhaps from a source of spiritual or elemental purity.

3. **Moonlight and Moondew:** Symbolize mystical and transformative elements. Being whitewashed in the moondew suggests a desire for spiritual purification and a connection to the divine or transcendent.

4. **Egg and Hen:** Symbolize fertility, renewal, and the cyclical nature of life. The new-laid egg and the white hen at midterm suggest the potential for new beginnings and growth, reinforcing the theme of regeneration.

5. **"So would I":** Repetition of this phrase emphasizes the speaker's longing and intention. It becomes a symbolic expression of the persistent desire for purification and the commitment to the symbolic journey described in the poem.

6. **Climbing to Hilltops:** Symbolizes the effort required for spiritual ascent or self-discovery. The act of climbing suggests a deliberate and intentional journey towards a higher understanding or state of being.

7. **Midterm:** Implies a point of transition or a midpoint in the cyclical nature of time. This adds a temporal dimension to the symbolism, emphasizing the ongoing cycle of renewal and regeneration.

Collectively, these symbols contribute to the poem's exploration of themes related to purification, spiritual growth, and the cyclical nature of life. They enrich the imagery and deepen the layers of meaning within the verses.

Metaphors and similes

"Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo employs metaphors and similes to convey its themes and images:

1. **Metaphor of the Hills:** The hills serve as a metaphor for a higher spiritual plane or enlightenment, emphasizing the speaker's desire to ascend and attain a deeper understanding.

2. **Metaphor of the Fountain:** The fountain is a metaphorical source of purity and life, representing the speaker's quest for spiritual cleansing and renewal.

3. **Metaphor of Whitewashing in the Moondew:** Being whitewashed in the moondew is a metaphorical expression of the speaker's aspiration for spiritual purification, suggesting a transformative and cleansing process.

4. **Simile of the Whitewashing in the Moondew:** The use of "whitewashed in the moondew" is a simile, comparing the process of purification to the act of being cleansed in the dew under moonlight.

5. **Simile of Drawing from the Fountain:** The act of drawing from the fountain is a simile for the speaker's desire to derive spiritual nourishment, likening the process to drawing water from a source.

6. **Metaphor of Climbing to Hilltops:** The climb to hilltops is a metaphor for the journey towards spiritual enlightenment, suggesting the effort and intention required for such ascension.

7. **Metaphor of the New-Laid Egg and White Hen at Midterm:** The new-laid egg and white hen serve as metaphors for fertility, renewal, and the cyclical nature of life, comparing the potential for new beginnings to the fertility of a hen.

These literary devices contribute to the depth and richness of the poem by creating imaginative connections between the natural and symbolic elements, allowing the reader to engage with the themes on both a literal and metaphorical level.

Language and diction

The language and diction in "Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo are notable for their poetic and symbolic qualities. Here are some aspects of the language and diction in the poem:

1. **Poetic Language:** The language used in the poem is elevated and poetic, creating a rhythmic and melodic quality. This contributes to the overall aesthetic appeal and emotional resonance of the verses.

2. **Symbolic Diction:** The poet employs symbolic language, using words and phrases that carry deeper meanings beyond their literal interpretations. Symbols such as hills, fountains, moondew, and eggs are chosen for their symbolic resonance, adding layers of meaning to the poem.

3. **Repetition:** The repetition of the phrase "So would I" emphasizes the speaker's persistent desire. This repetition serves as a rhetorical device, reinforcing the emotional and thematic elements of the poem.

4. **Nature Imagery:** The poet uses vivid imagery related to nature, incorporating elements like hills, springs, moonlight, and hens. This nature imagery creates a sensory experience and contributes to the overall atmosphere of the poem.

5. **Ritualistic Language:** Words like "cleansing," "whitewashed," and "drawing from" contribute to a sense of ritual and ceremony. This choice of language enhances the symbolic nature of the actions described in the poem.

6. **Metaphorical Expressions:** Metaphors, such as "whitewashed in the moondew" and "drawing from the fountain," add depth and nuance to the descriptions, allowing the reader to engage with the poem on both a literal and metaphorical level.

7. **Temporal Diction:** The mention of "midterm" introduces a temporal element, suggesting a point in a cycle. This choice of diction adds a layer of complexity to the poem's exploration of time and renewal.

Overall, the language and diction in "Lustra" contribute to the poem's lyrical quality, its exploration of symbolic themes, and the creation of a contemplative and emotive atmosphere.

Structure of the poem

The structure of "Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo is notable for its free verse form, characterized by the absence of a consistent rhyme scheme and meter. Here are some key aspects of the poem's structure:

1. **Stanzas:** The poem is divided into three stanzas, each presenting a distinct phase or aspect of the speaker's contemplation and desire for purification. The stanzas vary in length, contributing to the poem's organic and fluid structure.

2. **Enjambment:** Okigbo frequently employs enjambment, where lines run into each other without a pause, creating a continuous flow of thought. This technique enhances the natural and conversational feel of the poem.

3. **Repetition:** The repetition of the phrase "So would I" is a notable structural element, emphasizing the speaker's persistent longing and creating a rhythmic pattern that reinforces the thematic elements of the poem.

4. **Varied Line Lengths:** The poem features lines of varying lengths, contributing to its organic and dynamic structure. Shorter lines may convey a sense of urgency or emphasis, while longer lines allow for more elaborate descriptions and reflections.

5. **Imagery Placement:** The placement of vivid imagery, such as references to hills, fountains, and moonlight, is strategically woven throughout the poem. This placement contributes to the overall visual and sensory impact of the verses.

6. **Cyclical Structure:** The mention of "midterm" and the cyclical symbols of the new-laid egg and the white hen suggest a cyclical or recurring structure, adding a temporal dimension to the poem's thematic exploration.

7. **Narrative Flow:** While the poem lacks a conventional narrative structure, there is a discernible flow of ideas and emotions. The speaker's contemplation on returning to the hills, drawing from the fountain, and seeking purification follows a logical progression.

In summary, "Lustra" exhibits a free verse structure characterized by its fluidity, enjambment, repetition, and strategic placement of vivid imagery. This structure complements the contemplative and symbolic nature of the poem.

Sound and rhythm

The sound and rhythm in "Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo contribute to the poem's overall musicality and emotional resonance. Here are some aspects related to sound and rhythm:

1. **Repetition:** The repetition of the phrase "So would I" creates a rhythmic pattern, lending a musical quality to the poem. This repetition serves as a sonic motif, emphasizing the speaker's persistent desire.

2. **Assonance and Consonance:** The poem features instances of assonance (repetition of vowel sounds) and consonance (repetition of consonant sounds), contributing to a pleasing and rhythmic auditory experience. These sonic devices enhance the musicality of the verses.

3. **Alliteration:** The use of alliteration (repetition of initial consonant sounds) in phrases like "moondew" and "midterm" adds a rhythmic quality to the language and contributes to the poem's overall sound texture.

4. **Varied Line Lengths:** The poem's use of lines with varying lengths contributes to a dynamic rhythm. Shorter lines may quicken the pace, while longer lines allow for a more leisurely and contemplative rhythm.

5. **Enjambment:** The frequent use of enjambment, where lines flow into each other without a pause, creates a continuous rhythm that propels the reader through the poem. This flowing quality enhances the natural and conversational cadence of the verses.

6. **Phonetic Resonance:** Certain words and phrases are chosen for their phonetic resonance, contributing to the poem's sonic impact. Examples include the soft sounds in "moondew" and the repeated "i" sounds in "So would I."

7. **Cadence:** The poem has a rhythmic cadence that mirrors the speaker's contemplative journey. The rise and fall of the language create a sense of movement, aligning with the thematic elements of ascent and purification.

In summary, the sound and rhythm in "Lustra" play a crucial role in enhancing the poem's emotional and aesthetic appeal. Through repetition, assonance, alliteration, and varied line lengths, Okigbo creates a sonic landscape that complements the thematic depth of the poem.


The syntax in "Lustra" by Christopher Okigbo is characterized by its poetic structure and the arrangement of words and phrases to convey meaning and emotion. Here are some aspects of the syntax in the poem:

1. **Parallel Structure:** The repetition of the phrase "So would I" creates a parallel structure, emphasizing the speaker's consistent desire for a particular action. This syntactic repetition contributes to the rhythmic and thematic elements of the poem.

2. **Enjambment:** The use of enjambment, where lines run into each other without a pause, is prominent in the poem. This technique creates a flowing and continuous syntax, allowing ideas to spill over from one line to the next and contributing to the natural, conversational tone of the verses.

3. **Inversion:** The poem occasionally employs inversion, altering the typical word order for poetic effect. For example, "to where springs the fountain" deviates from the standard syntax but enhances the poem's rhythmic and visual qualities.

4. **Descriptive Phrases:** The poem utilizes descriptive phrases and clauses to paint vivid images and convey the speaker's contemplative journey. These phrases contribute to the overall imagery and sensory experience of the poem.

5. **Economy of Language:** The poet often uses concise language and employs an economy of words to convey complex ideas and emotions. This succinct syntax adds to the poem's clarity and impact.

6. **Fragmentation:** The syntax occasionally features fragmented phrases, contributing to a sense of introspection and fragmented thought. This style aligns with the contemplative and reflective nature of the poem.

7. **Temporal Syntax:** The poem incorporates temporal elements through syntax, as seen in the mention of "midterm." This introduces a sense of time and cyclicality, adding a layer of complexity to the syntactic structure.

Overall, the syntax in "Lustra" is carefully crafted to enhance the poem's musicality, rhythmic flow, and thematic depth. The use of parallelism, enjambment, inversion, and descriptive language contributes to the unique syntactic structure that characterizes the poem.


"Lustra" was written by Christopher Okigbo, a Nigerian poet, in the 1960s. It's essential to consider the historical and cultural context of the time in order to better understand the poem:

1. **Nigerian Independence:** Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960. The post-colonial period was marked by a search for national identity and cultural renewal. Okigbo's poetry often reflects the complexities of this era.

2. **Biafran War:** The Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), also known as the Biafran War, had a profound impact on Okigbo. He was involved in the Biafran secessionist movement, and his poetry reflects the turbulent political and social climate of the time.

3. **Cultural and Spiritual Influences:** Okigbo drew inspiration from Igbo culture, mythology, and spirituality. "Lustra" exhibits elements of Igbo cosmology and rituals, as well as a broader exploration of spiritual themes.

4. **Personal and Artistic Evolution:** Okigbo's poetry underwent significant changes over the years. "Lustra" is part of his later works, where his style became more experimental and reflective. Understanding the poet's evolving perspectives and experiences is crucial for interpreting the poem.

5. **African Literary Renaissance:** The 1960s witnessed a renaissance in African literature, often referred to as the "African literary renaissance." Writers like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Christopher Okigbo were central figures in this movement, using literature to explore identity, colonial legacy, and societal changes.

6. **Symbolism and Modernism:** Okigbo, influenced by modernist poetry, employed rich symbolism and experimental language in his later works. "Lustra" reflects his exploration of abstract and symbolic themes, making it open to various interpretations.

Considering these contextual elements provides a broader perspective on the themes and stylistic choices in "Lustra" and enhances the reader's understanding of Okigbo's intentions and the poem's relevance to the cultural and historical milieu of the time.

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