A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Christopher Okigbo’s Socio-Political Poetry
Style is the manifestation of one’s personality. Every writer has a natural, linguistic and idiosyncratic way of expressing ideas that leads to the identification of style with man and his thought. The manipulation of words by a writer creates a distinct style through which he/she reaches out to the audience. This research work focused on a stylistic analysis of selected socio-political poems of Christopher Okigbo. This aims at identifying Okigbo’s unique use of language. Stylometrics was used as a theoretical framework for the study. The findings in this are that Okigbo’s poems begin with some words in capitalisation which are foregrounded to the theme of the poems. He makes use of elements like repetition, alliteration, rhyme, parallelism and so on which add musical colour and rhythm to his poems. It is also evident his poems are sometimes prophetic, ritualistic and often address socio-political issues from a universal perspective. The work found out that each of the linguistic choices has an identifiable function that is performed in the poem. The study concludes that Christopher Okigbo’s poems are musical in nature and highly figurative in language use.
This chapter serves as general introduction and includes background to the study, the statement of the problem, as well as the scope and delimitation of the study. Also, included in chapter one are the aim and objectives of the study, significance of the study, limitations of the study as well as the research design and a definition of terms.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Language use by individuals differs from one person to the other. This is because of the differences in language ability. Stylistics is a borderline discipline between language and literature. It focuses on language use in both literary and non-literary texts. Stylistics is also concerned with the study of the language of literature or the study of the language habits of particular authors and their writing patterns. Therefore, it can be said to be the study of style. Style on its own has been defined differently be scholars. According to Leech and Short (15), style is the cover of our feelings and it is the tool of the writer to transfer the message to readers. Leech further says “style proclaims the man” (11), that is, there is an intimate relationship between the choice of language and the author’s personality. Haynes defines it as “the study of style is the study of differences” (3). This further drives home the point that our choice of diction differentiates us from others.
Language gives the reader a new perspective on familiar themes and allows us to look at them without the personal or social conditioning that we unconsciously associate with them (Widdowson 9). So, although the reader may still use the same exhausted words and vague terms like ‘love’, ‘heart’ and ‘soul’ to refer to human experience, to place these words in a new and refreshing context allows the poet the ability to represent humanity and communicate honestly. This, in part, is stylistics, and this, according to Widdowson, is the point of poetry (76).
Every writer’s works can have a great influence on fore coming literary works even though their purpose is the same. This is because writers do not have the same approach when it comes to language. That is why one person’s style can be different from another. Thus, this work will focuses on “A Stylistic analysis of selected Christopher Okigbo’s socio-political poetry”. This aims at revealing what has made Okigbo so popular in the literary world despite his short life.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Stylistics is the study of style. It is the description and analysis of the variable forms of linguistic items in actual language use. This research project intends to carry out a stylistic investigation of selected Christopher Okigbo’s Socio-political Poems. When two or more authors write on a particular topic, the style of writing differs from one author to the other authors thereby distinguishing one from the others. This can be achieved through choice, deviation, conformity and so on. Okigbo has a style that is peculiar to him and differentiates his work from those of other authors. His style reveals his feelings about the socio-political situation in Nigeria. This research paper seeks to find out what is peculiar to his language.
A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Christopher Okigbo’s Socio-Political Poetry
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of this research is to carry out a stylistic analysis of some of Okigbo’s socio-political poems. The objective is to give better understanding of the poems, thereby maximising the enjoyment of the poems. Moreover, another objective is to apply levels of linguistic analysis to these poems and by so doing show that linguistic knowledge is useful in analysis of poetry.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research work will reveal the peculiarities that characterise the discourse of Christopher Okigbo. This hence brings out those features that differentiate his works from those of other authors such as Chinua Achebe, Ola Rotimi, Amos Tutuola and so on.
Moreover, this work is significant as it will guide those who will work on similar research topics. It is expected that this work will serve as a reference material for students and give insight into related areas that can be explored using other primary texts by different authors.
The study of language variation and language use is relevant for the teaching and learning of languages, and for developing the learner’s communicative ability. This work will therefore contribute to teaching and learning of English language. It is also significant because it is mandatory for the award of Bachelor of Arts (B.A Hons.) in English language.
1.5 SCOPE AND DELIMITATION
Christopher Okigbo is a prolific writer and has written many works about different ideas in the society with different purposes. This study is concerned with only his socio-political poems. The focus of this work is on the levels of Linguistic analysis: Phonological level, Graphological level, lexical repetition and Lexico-semantic level in his selected poems which are: “Thunder can Break”, ‘‘Come Thunder’’, “Hurrah for Thunder” and “Elegy for Slit-drum” in his collections of poems titled Labyrinths and Path of Thunder.
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND RESEARCH DESIGN
It is basically a textual analysis of some of Christopher Okigbo’s socio-political poetry. No field work will be required as it will be library research and the collection and analysis of data generated from the primary texts as well as secondary sources.
In this stylistic analysis lexical repetition, lexico-semantic, phonological, syntactic and graphological features will be the center of our concern. These features from the selected poems will enable the researcher to link the style to the author and show the stylistic effect of these features.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
One common problem experienced by most researchers when carrying out a stylistic analysis is that formal structures of any text tend to be too many and complex. Any detailed study in this field, therefore, produces a mass of data, in such areas as lexis, grammar, foregrounding, cohesion and context. This becomes cumbersome to the researcher. We have tried to overcome this challenge by concentrating on those structures considered to be more prominent in the poems.
Also, the field of stylistic is enormous and it tends to be difficult to limit the area of operation of this field. There are several concepts and techniques which one has the freedom to use and so it becomes a problem to a particular method to conduct the research analysis. In the light of this, this work focuses on lexical repetition, lexico-semantic, phonological, syntactic and graphological features.
Another limitation is the time limit for which this work is to be carried. This research is to be completed within an academic session which is challenging due to the fact that it will be done alongside other academic activities such as attending lectures, reading for continuous assessment and preparing for examination. We overcome this challenge by drawing a work timetable specifying what to be done of every point in time for efficient time management.