Themes in S.O.H. Afriyie-Vidza’s “Hearty Garlands”

The themes in “Hearty Garlands” by S.O.H. Afriyie-Vidza include ageing, celebration, and contentment and fulfillment.

Themes in Hearty Garlands
Themes in Hearty Garlands

The themes in “Hearty Garlands” by S.O.H. Afriyie-Vidza include ageing, celebration, and contentment and fulfillment.

Theme of Ageing

The theme of ageing is one of the dominant themes in “Hearty Garlands.” It cannot be gainsaid that the poem echoes the sentiment of some African cultures about ageing. Among the Yoruba people for example, old people are treated with reverence and their advanced years are synonymous with a wealth of experiences younger people can benefit from. This is exactly what the poem seems to portray.

The poem identifies the celebrant’s milestone of eighty-five years as a time of contentment and fulfillment; a period when “(restful) Hope nods in contented concert with spent desires”  and “neither nags nor raves nor rants” (lines 16 and 17). The poem equally describes this period as “life’s smiley, cloudless dawn” and “the gainful twilight of fulfilled dreams” (lines 14 and 15).


Age is equated with wisdom and experience. The person’s long life is seen as a testament to the wealth of knowledge and insights he has gained over the years.

The poem gives positive outlook to ageing. It embraces the inevitability of ageing and portrays it as a natural and meaningful part of life. There is an acceptance of the passage of time and an appreciation for the experiences it brings.

Theme of Celebration

Celebration is one of the discernible themes in “Hearty Garlands.” The poem itself is written in celebration of someone who has just become eighty-five years of age. It celebrates this individual’s life and accomplishments. It expresses admiration and respect for the person being honoured. The admiration is glaring enough in expressions like “wondrous mentor” (line 11), “mahogany chest” (line 24), and “iroko agama” (line 25).

It goes without saying that “Hearty Garlands” is a panegyric poem that praises the celebrant no end, especially in regard of his new age, longevity, and accomplishments. The poem expresses gratitude for the richness of the celebrant’s life experiences, both past and present. It recognizes the value found in the journey itself, regardless of its ups and downs: “Life’s whole process blooms into stark beauty/And failures give no trite, crippling regrets” (lines 5 and 6).

Theme of Contentment and Fulfillment

Age eighty-five is depicted as a time of contentment and fulfilled dreams. Contentment is found in the alignment between hope and desires. The octogenarian does not worry about the things he should have done or ought not to have done because the age is the “gainful twilight of fulfilled dreams” (line 15). It is that time of his life when he is recognized for his age and wealth of experience.

At that age, the celebrant is already fulfilled with the life he has lived thus far, contented with the things he has achieved thus far, and only looks forward to more years of this feeling of contentment and fulfillment. The poem conveys a sense of peace and satisfaction in these later stages of life.

The individual looks forward to the future with optimism and anticipation while he basks in the peace of the present moment which his age has accorded him. He looks out “to sea for health delivering vessels” (l. 20).

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