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The Mystic Drum- Gabriel Okara- Poem Summary

Updated: Apr 1, 2022


Poem Introduction: Africa has diverse cultures and ethnicity and was exploited by the involvement of western civilization. The poem “The Mystic Drum” is an expression of the above mention in the form of a poem by Gabriel Okara, a Nigerian poet, and author. Note: “The Mystic Drum” represents the indigenous African Culture and tradition; “She” is the representation of a new culture i.e. western culture. Poem: The mystic drum in my inside and fishes danced in the rivers and men and women danced on land to the rhythm of my drum

But standing behind a tree with leaves around her waist she only smiled with a shake of her head. Still my drum continued to beat, rippling the air with quickened tempo compelling the quick and the dead to dance and sing with their shadows - But standing behind a tree with leaves around her waist she only smiled with a shake of her head. Then the drum beat with the rhythm of the things of the ground and invoked the eye of the sky the sun and the moon and the river gods - and the trees bean to dance, the fishes turned men and men turned fishes and things stopped to grow - But standing behind a tree with leaves around her waist she only smiled with a shake of her head.

And then the mystic drum in my inside stopped to beat - and men became men, fishes became fishes and trees, the sun and the moon found their places, and the dead went to the ground and things began to grow. And behind the tree she stood with roots sprouting from her feet and leaves growing on her head and smoke issuing from her nose and her lips parted in her smile turned cavity belching darkness. Then, then I packed my mystic drum and turned away; never to beat so loud any more. Poem Summary:

The poet says that the mystic drum inside him i.e. his culture inside him is making everyone in the land merry with its charisma. The fishes in the rivers are dancing and people on the land are dancing along with the rhythm of the drum. Looking at this joyful scene stands a strange woman i.e. ‘a strange culture’ smiling and shaking her head. This gesture is maybe of acceptance or admiration. Ignoring the stranger’s presence he says, still, his culture is lively and is rippling the air with the quickness of its beat which even makes the dead dance with the rhythm. Again looking at this blissful scene stands a strange woman i.e. ‘a strange culture’ smiling and shaking her head. This gesture is maybe of acceptance or admiration. Ignoring again, he says that the rhythm continues to capture the moments by stealing away the things on earth, the sun, the moon, and the river Gods with its magic essence of joy. It even made indifference among creatures “the fishes turned men/ and men turned fishes”. It also captured time still. Once again looking at this wonderful scene stands a strange woman i.e. ‘a strange culture’ smiling and shaking her head. This gesture is maybe of acceptance or admiration. Ignorance has paid back. The rhythm and the beats inside him stopped, all the indifference was removed and the captured natural elements were let out free. The dead were left undisturbed in their grave and time started to change getting out of the stillness. The stranger, who stood behind, wasn’t just standing and having a sight at the culture whereas, was planting its roots into the grounds and had grown. He means that civilization changed along with industrialization and so, the darkness got spread although his culture and practices. In the end, the poet packed his cultural practices and enthusiasm with him, went far away and the rhythm remained silent forever.

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