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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Naked Soles by Gbemisola Adeoti

Literary Analysis (Summary)
This poem paints a glooming picture of people under massive enslavement. The first line of the poem introduces us to the gory condition in which man has found himself. The poem is a tragic depiction of suffering and injustice to humanity. The naked souls are the less-privileged people who have been stripped of freedom and liberty, and compelled to work for their paymasters under unfavourable environments of pain and agony.

Right from the first stanza, the “naked soles” portray barefooted slaves being subjected to untold suffering in a carnival-like form. In its usual form, a carnival is a public event at which people play music, wear special clothes and dance in the streets. But in this poem, the “naked soles”, who are the people under immense servitude embark on an ironic carnival “dancing through blooming thorns/ hopping with muffled shrill” (Lines 2 & 3). It’s a carnival where people cry in silence and excruciating pain.

The elderly people and respected statesmen in the society, who are supposed to speak against these anomalies in the society, are quiet and they do not seem to be moved by the spate of injustice going on around them. With “puzzling smiles”, their “ageing faces” are “drained of terror”. No one seems to care about the predicament of the lowly people. Their suffering does not appeal to the people who have the wherewithal to fight their course. It is only the passersby that appear to see the untold oppression. The passerby is moved and so “points attention to the horror” being meted out by man to fellow man whose “lisping lips” and “clanging teeth” exemplify the hardship they are passing through. They are treated with less dignity for they are common men. This, however, showcases man inhumanity to man.

To make matters worse, since those are supposed to speak against their plight and fight for them are not bothered, their conditions become more agonizing. They move in their carnival procession “dancing through blooming thorns”, with “muffled shrill”, walking on “glass chips” to form another procession towards the “forest of cactus” (Cactus is a desert plant with sharp points instead of leaves). This forest is described by the poet as a “painful passage along a pin-ful path”. Here, the conditions of these slaves become more unbearable as they hop “between pricks and tears”. 

Deprived of freedom, their naked feet “thunders” along the forest of cactus, as they chatter away, and roaring “through our new acropolis”.  The acropolis, probably a new town, is portrayed as a place “where pins with nails and shattered shells of snails pile from rooftop to floor”. With this, one can deduce that the dilemma of these common labourers is getting more excruciating, without any hope for freedom. The yoke has been increased.

At the end of the painful hard work of each day, the beneficiaries are the capitalist master and feudal lords, who take home with “regal strutting” the profit and gains they never toiled for. They do not mind how their workers “on bare soles” work through hell to make them comfortable in “royal bearing”. There is no improvement in their welfare or condition of service.

Milk is meant to be tasty and nutritious, giving one a balanced diet. But this is not applicable to these workers. They are served with “milk of bleakness”. This metaphor portrays that the workers are paid peanuts that cannot sustain them, although they work day and night in terrible conditions. As a result, they are hopeless of a brighter future. 

Even though they are unhappy with this horrific development, they have no choice. As the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. They have to work to enrich their masters who are described as “wild faces behind ageing masks”. All they care about is the multiplicity of wealth, even if they have to make their workers pass through hell. That is one the poet asserts that they sit on “thorn-filled cushions” and “thrones of thorns”.

Man inhumanity to man
The helplessness and suffering of the common man
The evil of slavery
The exploitation of the poor by the rich
The struggle for survival

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  1. Thanks alot, it was useful

  2. Thanks, this has helped me alot

  3. Thanks for the has helped me

  4. This has really helped me. Thanks

  5. Good one I don't even need to read d full poem properly before I understand,this is self explanatory.