In “The Post Colonial Studies Reader (Routledge
2003), a book edited by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth
Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin is mentioned a name “Chinua
Achebe” that his writings “Colonialist Criticism” and
“Named for Victoria, Queen of England” are included
Chinua Achebe is the first African post-colonial writer, a
Nigerian novelist of genius, and the father of African
Novel whose the first novel “Things Fall Apart” (which is
the title is taken from William Butler Yeats‟ The Second
Coming) is being the greatest post-war novel in English.
One of his poem entitled “Vultures” that I‟m about to
analyze is setted in World War II, but it is relevent to all
human conflict. Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian writer who
probably familiar with the sight of vultures, which are
scavenging birds, eat the carcass of a dead animal.
The opening of the poem is described as a bleak and
emphasizes the dark side by giving an alliteration
„drizzle of one despondent dawn‟ (line2) where even the
sunbreak (Line4) does not make the atmosphere alive.
A pair of vultures are sitting together on the branch of a
tree. There are metaphors of horror and death: the dead
tree (Line6) branch which the vultures roost on is
described as a broken bone (Line5) which is another
alliteration to make the horror feeling more strong.
The metaphor of the pebble refers to the vulture‟s head
which is small in comparison to its body, and the
adjectives „dump‟ and „gross‟ emphasize how ugly the
bird is. The last three lines of the first section, the poet
describes The corpse as a „hollow remnant‟ which the
vultures observed with „cold telescopic eyes‟.
The “Vultures” are metaphoric of a Nazi commandant who
preys hepless people greedily and unmercifully. The poem
begins with a dreadful description of a pair of vultures who
nestle (embrace) one to another affectionately after eating a
In the greyness
and drizzle of one despondent
dawn unstirred by harbingers
of sunbreak a vulture
perching high on broken
bone of a dead tree
nestled close to his
mate his smooth
bashed-in head, a pebble
on a stem rooted in
a dump of gross
feathers, inclined affectionately
to hers. Yesterday they picked
the eyes of a swollen
corpse in a water-logged
trench and ate the things in its bowel. Full
gorged they chose their roost
keeping the hollowed remnant
in easy range of cold
telescopic eyes …
The statement „they picked/the eyes of a swollen/corpse in a
water-logged/trench and ate the things in its bowel „ is
stereotypical impression of vultures. In contrast with the
statement „nestled close to his mate‟. It doesn‟t fit with the
characteristics of vulture at all.
In the second section the poet comments on the strange love
existing in unexpected places. Love is personified as a woman
who can even sleep sleep in that charnel house (Line26), a
building where bodies or bones are stored. She sleeps with her
face to the wall (Line 28) like she doesn‟t care to what is
indeed how love in other
ways so particular
will pick a corner
in that charnel-house
tidy it and coil up there, perhaps
even fall asleep - her face
turned to the wall!
The poet uses the word „Daddy‟ instead of father that is more
affectionate and endearing term seems to show how „normal‟ his role as
a father to his „tender offspring‟ and back at home with the gifts he has
brought them. The irony here showed up that the Commandant is
anything but a „normal‟ man but he did and saw brutal torture and
murder of human beings day after day.
In the fourth section the poet uses more metaphors. The evil
Commandant is seen as an ogre with a tiny glow of love or tenderness
inside him, which is like the glow worm. The germ of love does not
grow as a normal seed because of the perpetuity of evil (Line 50)
prevents it from developing. Germ here refers to something like a seed
rather than a germ of disease.
providence if you will
that grants even an ogre
a tiny glow-worm
in icy caverns of a cruel
heart or else despair
for in every germ
of that kindred love is
lodged the perpetuity
On the third section, he describes the Belsen Commandant, the mass
murderer is called Daddy that after spent the day doing horrified
work in burning human corpses, he then buys his child sweets on the
… Thus the Commandant at Belsen
Camp going home for
the day with fumes of
human roast clinging
rebelliously to his hairy
nostrils will stop
at the wayside sweet-shop
and pick up a chocolate
for his tender offspring
waiting at home for Daddy‟s return …
The Commandant is in charge in the mass murder of Jews (
Holocaust ) where Jews are tortured and executed cruelly by the
German Nazi regime. The word „roast‟ is associated with human flesh
who are burned. This is a shocking and horrifying circumstance. The
smell does not go away so easily, and he can smell it until the sweet
shop but he just walk and not even feel guilty just like the vultures
that have no regret in torturing and killing.
At the ending, the poet praises providence that even
the cruelest creatures have love. Achebe uses
metaphor once again, this time to convey how cold the
Commandant‟s heart is „tenderness encapsulated / in
icy caverns of a cruel / heart‟.
He expresses the poem in ironic tone that love and
cruelty blends. These creatures show love for their
families only and allow themselves to do something
cruel towards others. Even though there is a sense of
love but the evil side is more dominant therefore on the
whole we just can see the evil things.
The description of the vultures is in the
Commandant is described in the present
continuous tense, perhaps to show us
that evil is around us now.
The poem conveys theme that love can
also carry out acts of great evil and in
turn, creatures that carry out acts of great
evil can also love. There is a thin line
between love and hate. The poem is
written in a free verse and divided into
four sections. Each is marked by an
indented line rather than a new stanza.
The dictions overall paint pictures of
disgusting and miserable details to describe
characteristics of vulture and its environment such as
greyness, despondent, broken bone, dead tree, dump,
gross feathers, picked the eyes, swollen corpses,
trench, hollowed remnant, human roast, hairy nostrils,
ogre, icy cavern, cruel heart, despair and evil.
The poet presents the vultures as vicious figures, and
their moment of tenderness surprises the reader. This
is the dual nature that is prepared for the reader to
evoke more emotion and its uniqueness makes this
poem interesting even more.
Chinua Achebe is the first Nigerian writer who
successfully transmute the conventions a European art
form into African literature. He wrote boldly and
objectively and helped reshape the perception of
African history and culture in world affairs. He said, "art
is, and always was, at the service of man. Our
ancestors created their myths and told their stories for
a human purpose. Any good story, any good
novel, should have a message, should have a
Achebe believes that artistic and literary works must
deal primarily with the problems of society. Just like
other Postcolonial writers, Achebe explore the
characteristics of the hegemony and articulates the
emotional life of decolonizaton country in its influence.
Black African writers turnes up triggered by Harlem
Renaissance mostly talk about Postcolonial issues such as
White‟s domination, suppression, discrimination, racism and
also The politic Apartheid. They write critical works with their
concept of „Negritude‟ where all people of negro descent
shared certain characteristics.
It is as an attempt to extend perceptions of the negro as
possessing a distinctive „personality‟ with their own
intellectual, emotional and physical and to affirm African
cultural heritage as the values of the civilization of the African
world. They want white people respect it because what they
should have known that we are not born by the culture but we
are born in the culture. Race and ethnic is a natural thing that
we can‟t deny or we can create by ourselves. It is the gift of
God as our identity for us to accept it and respect it.
Belsen Camp Bergen Belsen was one of the
most notorious concentration camps of
the Second World War. It became a camp
for those who were too weak or sick to
work and many people died because of
the terrible conditions. Anne Frank was
interned there and died of typhus in 1945.
The camp was liberated in 1945.
Harbinger Predecessor, forerunner
Lodge Stay, reside, occupy
Nestle Drawn or pressed close to
or something for affection or protection
Bounteous Generous, openhanded, bighearted
Young, immature descendants of a
Ogre Man-eating giant, monster
Bowel Intestine, gut
Perpetuity Never-ending, everlasting
Cavern A large and deep cave
Providence Kindly care of God or Nature
Charnel-house A vault where dead bodies
or bones are piled up
Remnant Leftover, a small part that remains
after the main part no longer exist
Coil up To roll or twist in a spiral course
Encapsulate To cover something so it will
not touch by anything else as if a capsul
Unstirred Not agiated by stirring
Water-logged trench soft and watery ditch
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