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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

End of the War by Okinba Launko


Literary Analysis (Summary)

The poem reflects on the irony of life and the foolishness of war. The first three lines give an indication that there is no end to war. The end of a war marks the beginning of a new war. Wars have been a part of human existence since creation. It has come to stay as an institution in humanity. Okinba Launko, in this poem, asserts that war cannot end. It is a continuous and integral part of life. As one ends, another begins. In other words, war breeds war. “Our war has ended/because war is now with us.” (Lines 8 & 9)


The aftermath of every war is usually devastating. When the battlefields are finally deserted, losses are counted. The worst hits are those who have been made widows with the death of their husbands and breadwinner, and probably their children. They are mostly the victims of “the silence of the battlefield.”(Line 4)
In times of war, all able-bodied men are expected to take up arms to defend their home. In case the home is conquered, the men are killed, while children and women, by international customs, are left behind in “anguish” to suffer the pain and wreckage of the war. “The deserted homes, the fallen rafters” (Line 10) are common sights to behold at the end of a war. It is inevitable.  Consequently, the victims have nothing to fall back to than to start from the scratch by rebuilding their lives and homes from the foundation before another war begins.

The poet-persona remarks that to start a war is easier than ending it. “For, to set questions is not as hard as finding answers” (Lines 6 & 7). No one can predict the end of a war. It is effortless to begin, while it takes an arduous process to end. The war that has ended might still easily trigger another war. “A war only ends, when another war begins” (Lines 2 & 3). In other words, wars don’t really end, not on a simple note. This is the major preoccupation of the poet.

The poet talks about “the praise-singers” (Line 12). They do not die. They survive because their role in any war is not to take up arms but to sing praises of the warring factions. Thus, they gain on both sides by fuelling the crisis. At the end of the war, they do not die and they are not victims. They escape to the barracks, the secured abode for soldiers for protection.

“The butchers fill the parliaments” (Line 14) after the war. They mastermind the war where thousands are butchered in cold blood.  Their complicity fuels the devastation and killing on a large scale because they stand to gain from the war. “The butchers” do not literally take up arms to kill. They sponsor and covertly aid the war to their own advantage. The butchers are the beneficiaries of war. They occupy the parliaments after the war to make outrageous legislation to the detriment of the victims. The victims are left to “survive to pay the levies” (Line 16) of rebuilding the city. “The victims no longer die by bullets” (Line 15) but by the murderous levies they are compelled to pay by the legislation of the butchers, who have taken over the law-making process of their country. The hallowed chamber does no longer represent the voices of the masses because it is now filled with butchers.

Obviously, the war has affected everyone, the nation is suffering from economic misery, and the victims are still counting the loss of their homes, investments and loved ones. With that, they do not have the financial ability to pay such bogus levies to rebuild the city. As a result, they die in absolute torture and affliction.

The poem ends on a sarcastic tone. The beneficiaries of the war (the butchers), who are been referred to as “they” in poem, fool the people into the war they are not prepared for. They tell them that all the children have to do is just to beat drums. “To beat drums is mere children’s play” (Line 18). The adults, who will eventually fight the war, are deceived from onset into believing that all they have to do is to “start echoes” (Line 19). With that, the fight begins on a less serious note. From there, it transcends to full scale war. The aftermath is wide-scale destruction and extermination.

Themes
The foolishness of war
War is permanent
The effect of war
The affliction of victims
The necessity for peace

Notes
The subject matter of the poem is war as it is being constantly repeated in the poem. It is written in 19 lines of unequal stanzas. Most of the lines run into the other (enjambment). The poem is laced with paradox and irony.


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1 comment:

  1. Please could we have the full transcript of the poem before the reviews? this would enable us analyse the poems without having to toggle between pages to view a particular line before coming back to the review. thanks.

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