Broken Monody: Sounds as Presages of War in Christopher Okigbo’s Labyrinths Sounds as Presages of War in Christopher Okigbo’s Labyrinths

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Sola Ogunbayo


Poetry is closely knit to music and as such it remains the prince of the genres despite the comparatively
more recent arrival of the realist novel on the popular scene. Critical commentary continues to revisit
Christopher Okigbo’s Labyrinths in part because of the union of music and poetry in this fascinating
collection of lyrical lines. Okigbo was as a person a talented musical instrumentalist, hence the
almost magical hold of his poetry on the listener/reader. There is also the rich suggestiveness in his
lyrical composition that is a product of sound, olfactory and visual imagery, for example, as well as
an unmistakable ear for ominous signals reaching out to the present from the future. Also, the poetry
illustrates the age-old designation of a poet as a prophet, a visionary. This essay examines some of
the ways in which Labyrinths speaks eloquently to the past, present and futuristic trajectories of
Nigeria’s experience as a postcolony.

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