A Poem on Vanity: Vanity by Deola Adelakun


Briefs of the Poem

Vanity to the poet is ‘nothing’. The poem vanity reminds us that this world is not forever. Life will end one day.

The poet testifies that he learned in different ways that this life is not forever. We shall return to our origin when no one knows. The poem sees this world as a fragile thing that must be held as delicate as a mirror.

The poet is concerned about the efforts of man on this earth that will end suddenly one day. Upon all the sweats of man, we have to say goodbye to the day we don’t know. No matter how longer we live here, we shall leave one day. Everything will end one day.

The poet uses biblical allusion to explicate that we are only strangers in this world. We came to transact businesses. Once we are done, we shall return home. As a proverb says in the Yoruba language, Ijo kan Nina Odile Leysin sun is je.

The biblical reference confirms it ‘ from dust we come and we shall return to dust. That is everybody will die and give an account of what we have come here to do. We have come to die!

      Practice Questions

  1. The ‘globe’ in line two represents ______________ (a) bulb (b) word (c) ball (d) world
  2. Who are Adam’s broods as used in the poem? (a) Sons of Adam (b) Brood’s sons (c) Sons of Broods (d) Man
  3. What does ‘origin’ in the poem describe? (a) heaven (b) background (c) home (d) house
  4. Discuss the biblical allusion of the poem.
  5. The poet submits that the world is ______________________ (a) unknown (b) vanity (c) inquisitive (d) possessed.

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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 all written in verse with lyrical effects.

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To achieve tthiseffect, a poet chooses words that convey meanings through their sounds and that also create images in the readers’ minds. 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 thdeedsdeed, e, g Milton’s Paradise Lost, Soyinka’s idanre
  • 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 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 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 state 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 or 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 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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