Poetry Analysis of "Season" by Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka, one of Nigeria's best-known and most beloved poets, has also written plays and novels and continues to write and lecture as a political activist. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. In his poem "Season," he draws on his cultural roots and upbringing to describe the scene of waiting for the harvest. On a continent where food is scarce, this gathering season becomes even more fragile and necessary.
The poem details the harvest season, the importance of the "rust," signifying the crops are ready to be "garnered." The tone -- the author's attitude toward what he is writing -- is respectful and reverent. He says, "We await/The promise of the rust" at the end of the poem to show the magnitude of the harvest. The mood of the poem is hopeful, and words such as "dance," "tassels" and "ride" evoke these positive feelings.
The language of "Season" is easy to understand and picturesque. Soyinka weaves words that paint a picture. Words including "plume," "feathered arrows" and "winged streaks of light" create dynamic movement in the poem. These words evoke the "long shadows" that he also talks about. The reader can picture this scene. Soyinka also echoes the sentiments of the harvest, the cutting and gathering itself, when he uses words like "spliced," "rasps," "pierce" and "wreathe." Each word is chosen carefully to reflect the harvest.
Soyinka uses several poetic devices in his poem. He uses a metaphor, a comparison of two unlike things, when he says "Pollen is mating-time." The comparison is startling, but in nature pollen does bring the chance of reproduction. The poem also employs personification, when Soyinka give human attributes to inanimate objects. He says, "Swallows weave a dance." Obviously, weaving is a human quality, but this line adds to the mystical quality of the piece. Another example of personification is "Laden stalks/Ride the germ's decay." The corn stalks would not be going for a ride.
The poem "Season" takes the form of free verse. There is no set rhyme pattern, and the rhythm varies with the lines and their meanings. It is reflective in nature, revealing the author's feelings at a particular moment in time. Soyinka details a time when the speaker was communicating with nature. He writes, "And we loved to hear/Spliced phrases of the wind." This magnifies the reflective elements in the poem.
Kathryne Bradesca has been a writing teacher for more than 15 years. She has also contributed to newspapers and magazines such as "The Morning Journal" and "The Ignatius Quarterly." Bradesca received a master's degree in teaching from Kent State University.