Poem: WISHES by Niyi Osundare


Wish I could still laugh with the lotus
On the bank of the Nile

Take off my clothes
And dive into the Zambezi

Join spirit dancers
In the middle of the Ganges

Romp with the Rio
To the thunder of the samba

Fan the Yangtze’s face
With the fan of the moon

Tease the Thames
With a shoeless foot

Embrace the Volga
With open arms

Ask the Mississippi
For a bowl of water . . .

Alas, between cup and lip
An acre of wishes

— Niyi Osundare

Let’s look at some features in the poem:

  • the poet expresses his wish for a continuing action;
  • there is an ecstatic feeling that is now gone;
  • the rivers mentioned are located in Africa all over. This is significant and means that the poet is recounting the events that once defined the continent;
  • now they are now things of the past;
  • we can deduce that things took a dismal turn;
  • and the poet laments the unnaturalness of things;
  • notice the ‘still’ in the opening line;
  • by extension, the alliterating sounds are mildly cacophonic;
  • the ellipsis after ‘water’ towards the end suggests that the poem is overwhelmed with that nostalgia.

Given all these noteworthy points, we can suggest that in this poem,

The poet expresses his distaste for the unnaturalness of the social conditioning of the African society. Here, we can say the dismal reality that now obtains in the society is a resultant effect of an earlier course of action which is not explicitly stated.


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