A Poem on Poverty with Critical Analyses


The poet points out that the leaders have turned the nation into a desert. They always steal public funds while they leave the masses as desperate slaves. It is the ‘Mekunus’, and ordinary citizens are victims of this suffering. The poem also is meant for those researchers who want to learn more or use the work to appreciate and analyze the poems.

Hand to Mouth


Why did the butcher crack bones?

I wonder why

The weaver wears rags


The landlord as a tenant

Is it a spell-cast or a curse mutter?

That the poor must become poorer


The dwellers of this land suffer

Farmers hardly roll three morsels a day

The landowner never builds

The princes become street beggars

The wise as riff-raffs

Who do we offend?

Have our forefathers trespassed?

Who crossed the limits?

Has someone caused this generation?

Who jumps the protocol?

That put Mekunus

In the bondage of no way

The highest bidders turn

honeycomb comb to desert

And the rare ch always pregnant with wealth

But the poor as desperate slaves

Poet: Deola Adelakun

Briefs of the Poem

The poet expresses his discontentment about the attitude and wickedness toward the bad care of Nigerians and how our leaders are concerned about Nigerians.

He continues that despite the resources we are endowed with in Nigeria, we still live in abject poverty. The poet wonders how the landlord lives as a tenant. We have resources that can take us easily but, surprisingly, we are still suffering.

Nigerians have to live in comfort. Ironically, we are living in distress and discomfort. The poor become poorer while the rich become richer in this country simply because our leaders are self-centered and selfish.

It is hard for ‘menus’ to swallow a three-square meal a day. We have resources but we are a most unlucky country in terms of managing resources. The leaders waste and embezzle public funds.

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The poet asks questions about whether we have offended our forefathers; whether we have jumped the protocol; whether we have crossed the limits; whether someone has caused this generation. The poem calls our attention to the poverty and suffering of the people in this country.

The poet points out that the leaders have turned the nation into a desert. They always steal public funds while they leave the masses as desperate slaves. It is the ‘Mekunus’, and ordinary citizens are victims of this suffering.

All the rich make their way by robbing the public purse and deceiving the masses. The poet submits that the leaders have disappointed the citizens by failing to use public funds wisely.


The poem, “Hand to Mouth” is metaphorical and it has some themes that explain it better. The thematic preoccupations are central ideas and dominating points around the poem. Some of the themes are discussed below.

Theme of hardship

The poet, probably, pictures the issue of Nigeria. He is particular about the way our leaders are treating us. Everything is hard. The poet is very concerned about the blessings, gs of resources, and all things God provided for us in Nigeria; still we are living in hardship.

Theme of oppression

The poet sees our leaders as oppressors. The person who oppresses is an oppressor. The poet laments how we as landlord lives as a tenant and how we as butchers crack bones. The leaders get all that is meant for the masses into their purposes for their use. Our politicians are living comfortably and oppressing the masses. Instead, we still experience kidnapping, theft, rituals, robbery, killings, der and movies, and ills. The fathers of those social vies are our politicians and leaders. No good things are provided for the comfort of the masses that we can boast of.

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The theme of bad governance

Bad governance in this nation has caused a lot of harm. There are no stable fuel prices, no stable electricity, no tap water, no stable infrastructures, no good roads, and nothing. The bad governance has resulted in hardship, oppression, and famine.

Theme of famine

If there is bad governance, there will be famine. This nation has been going through the issue of famine for s very long time. This has led to this abject poverty. The poet points to the bad things many people in this nation are experiencing these days. Hardly should “Mekunu” the ordinary citizens eat three times today.


The essence of language and poetic devices is to add value and enrich the poem. The poet makes use of certain language and poetic devices in this poem. Read and work on the languages and poetic devices.

Stanzas and line

The stanzas of the poem have good rhymes which give a rhythmic effect. The poem has twenty-four (24) lines.

Rhymes and rhyming scheme

The poem is free verse; a poem without the regular principle of metrical arrangement or rhyming. It has the rhyming scheme of abcbdeebefgcchcaijkfeelm


The poet is concerned about the situation of this nation and how our leaders lead us. The mind of poet is that all errors should be corrected so that the masses can be free from slaves.


There are some local vocabularies deliberately used by the poet to emphasize the message or the communication. The word “Mekunu” is used in line 19 to explain “masses” or “ordinary citizens”.

Figures of Speech

The essence of figures of speech is to add value and enrich the poem. The poet makes use of certain figures of speech in this poem. Read and work on the figures of speech.


The poet makes use of similes, using comparative words “as” to compare two things. Such words are “The landlord as a tenant” (line 5), “The wise as riff-raff”, (line 13), and “But the poor as desperate slaves”. (line 24)

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The poet makes use of the metaphor; where two things are compared without using the words “as or like”. Such words are: “In the bondage of no way”, and “The honeycomb to desert”.

Rhetorical Questions

The poet makes use of rhetorical questions, such as “Why the butchers crack bones” (line i), (Why?) (lines 4 and 8), “Is it a spell-cast or a curse-mutter” (line 6), The questions from line 14 to line 18 are also rhetorical.


The poet makes use of repetitions to emphasize the message of the poet. Such repetitions are: “Why” is repeated in lines 1, 2, 4, and 8.

Word List and Meanings

Mekunus:  The ordinary citizens

Weaver: He who weaves the clothes

Spell-cast: Casting a spell

Curse-mutter: Muttering a curse

Riff-raffs: People of low social class or people who are not socially acceptable

Lanes/limits: The right points

Highest bidders: People in the upper class

Desperate: Having little hope

Practice Questions

1. Comment on the figurative use of the language of the poem.

2. Explain the purpose of the poem.

3. Discuss the themes identified in the poem.

4. Comment on the imagery of the poem.

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