A Poem on Hypocrisy: I Point My Index Finger at You by Deola Adelakun


Briefs of the Poem

The poem ‘I Point My Finger at You’ addresses the hypocrisy of the leaders at various levels. An Index finger is a symbol of emphatic address. Deola Adelakun points at the readers as the ones who are involved.

The poet says you are the one and no other person. The poet draws a clear distinction between mouth-word and action. What people, especially leaders say contradicts what they act. That is hypocrisy!

The poet addresses political leaders and the leaders of various organizations.

Many leaders pretend to say they are democratic buts they are autocratic in their actions. They pretend to be honest and pure, but they are fraudsters and purse robbers. This action is hypocrisy!

You will see many leaders claiming that their ways of governance are the best but their actions show that they are traitors. They always say drug abuse should be abolished but they are involved in drug dealing. Is that not hypocrisy?

These leaders preach peace but they are terrorists. They pretend as if they were fighting corruption but in action they are corrupt. They will tell the masses to obey the laws as if they themselves  are laws, but in action they are law-breakers. This is hypocrisy!

These leaders pretend to have management and administrative knowledge, but they are fake people. They say unity and solidarity are good for our nation, but in action, most of them are antagonists. Is this not hypocrisy?

The poet concludes that saying things is not enough but acting. What we say must complement what we act before people and followers can believe us.

Practice Questions

  1. The poem above is ________________ (a) entertaining (b) didactic (c) narrative (d) descriptive
  2. State ten (10) things that the leaders are guilty of as pointed out by the poet.
  3. Discuss some themes identified in the poem.
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Knowledge Needed for the Analysis of Poems

Poetry as a piece of literary work, whether spoken or written, expresses and communicates thoughts, ideas, experiences, feelings, and emotions beautifully using imagery, rhythm, and sound. It is usually written in verse with lyrical effects.

To achieve effect, a poet chooses words that convey meanings through their sounds and that also create images in the readers’ mind. Poetry has music, rhythm, and rhyme.

That is words in a poem are arranged in lines, usually with a repeated rhythm, and sometimes with a rhyme in the end. The ideas in a poem are arranged into lines and stanzas.

To analyze a poem, a reader needs to understand how the poet uses words and sound devices to create images and to bring out his meaning. Thus, the following elements which give poetry its uniqueness in language and meaning will be treated.

The following are major forms of poetry: narrative poetry, satirical poetry, dramatic poetry, and lyrical poetry.

     Features of poetry

  • Poetry is written in verse, in the form of stanzas and lines.
  • Poetry is metrical in the arrangement.
  • It is usually lyrical.
  • It makes use of figurative language.
  • It expresses a thought, ideas, and experiences sometimes in a concise form.

       Types of poetry

  • Ballad: the word ‘ballad’ is out of current use. The poem derives from the village festival and is not often written but handed down orally from generation to generation, e.g. Ekun iyawo, Ijala Ode, etc.
  • Epic: This poem narrates heroes and their deeds e, g Milton’s Paradise Lost, Soyinka’s guidance
  • Elegy/Dirge: The poem of lamentation and a song of mourning and a sorrowful event such as the death of a bosom friend, Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
  • Lyric: A poem to be sung to the lyre. It is sung during the burial of the dead or the marriage ceremonies, e.g. J. P. Clarks Streamside Exchange
  • Ode: An ode is a written or spoken poem addressing somebody or something to mark a special occasion.
  • Pastoral poem: this poem celebrates the lives of the country and people.
  • Narrative poem: This is a long poem that tells a story, e.g Samuel Coleridge’s The rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.
  • Panegyrics/Eulogy: It is a praise poem dedicated to the glorification (praising) of the attributes or qualities of a person, an animal, a place or event, and an object.
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      Tools to consider in analyzing poems

  • Stanzas/Rhymes: This is the division in the formal pattern of a person. It could be two, three, or more lines. Rhyme is the exact correspondence in sound or word-ending, usually at the end of each poem. The arrangements of the stanzas should be considered. Learn how they are arranged below.
  1. A two-line stanza is known as a couplet
  2. A three-line stanza is known as a triplet
  3. A four-line stanza is known as a quatrain
  4. A five-line stanza is known as a quintet
  5. A six-line stanza is known as a sestet
  6. A seven-line stanza is known as a septet
  7. An eight-line stanza is known as an octave
  • Rhythm: This is a metrical movement determined between sounds and events.
  • Tone/mood: These are feelings or states of mind, of the poet. It is the frame of mind in which the poet was when composing his work.
  • Atmosphere: This is the prevalent mood, feelings and thoughts and actions of people in a poem.
  • Enjambment: This is also known as (run-on-line). It occurs when the ideas in a line of verse move from one line to the join line that follows it.
  • Imagery: It is the use of words to form mental pictures. A poet could use words to draw a picture of situations whose ordinary words cannot convey effectively.
  • Metre: This is the arrangement of the stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem to give a particular rhythmic effect.
  • The content of the poem: The content is the main body of the poem and you should understand the message and subject matter.
  • The structure of the poem: the structure of the poem is to be considered, such as stanzas, verses, and lines.
  • Language and style of the poem: The style, figures of speech and theme are to be considered. The style is the way the language is structured. It is the manner the poem is done. The theme is the central idea and the dominating point of the poem. The figures of the speech are simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, irony, euphemism, etc.
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