A Literary Analysis of Hayford’s Rejoice (Poem)
As written by Gladys Casely Hayford, “Rejoice” is a simple poem that treats solely the issue of racial discrimination. The first line declares an assurance of joy for the readers, commanding them also to “throw all burdens” away. The rationale being that the God that created have a planned purpose He wanted them to fulfil on Earth and not to be gloomy because of a trivial matter such as race.
It describes this race as a kind of torture which might be because you are “black or brown”. It does not, however, state who inflicted the pangs but it is vivid that it is the Whites for the poem is written in a time something of this nature flourished in the entire Africa.
The poem praises the Africans that they are of noble and blessed generations because they come from “a great nation” and even “a great birth” to add flavour to it.
The poet claims that no “flowers” can emanate from anywhere if there was no “earth”, meaning that the existence of one depends on the other. God has created one race to complete and supplement the other. Furthermore, the lines show dependence not only between human beings not also natural objects, note the words are thus used figuratively.
Repeating the first two lines, he describes their legacy as a “glorious heritage”. Hence, they have all the reasons to be happy whether they are black or brown, their race does not mean matter.
The poem seems to create an atmosphere devoid of human wickedness but joy for the black or brown Africans who are highly discriminated especially in the super countries like America.
Like many poem, this poem fails to mention a hint to its setting. Nevertheless, it is the task of a good analyst to carve it out. Our revelation is this:
The place setting is Africa because we argued by Nwoga (1967), it is a direct address to Africans.
The subject matter revolves around Africa. On the time setting, it is the era of colonialism when Africa has not been totally wiped off of its gloom. We could rather call it neo-colonialism to be specific.
The diction employed by the poet has lucidly its tone. The tone is of more of assurance than anything though the poem is expressed in a glad path.
For the mood, it is lively and self-esteem. Africans, after being purged out of and drove away from their joy, would now feel a sense of relief. They will feel a kind of self-esteem that they belong to somewhere, they will now be satisfied and they will be happy for this.
Words like “shout”, “laughter”, “rejoice” and “burden down” depict this.
The whole message the poet is trying to pull across is boldness. Before writing this poem, Africans are usually ashamed of how God created them because of the brutal discrimination they received from the Whites.
The poem is calling that they don’t have to be, they only have to be bold. In lieu of the shame, the poet through this poem attempts to build a form of encouragement and confidence in the Africans. This boldness of theirs will mitigate definitely their torture.
“For where would spring the flowers//If God took away the earth?”
With the above lines, the theme of dependence can be deduced. What the lines mean is that one cannot exist without dependency over another.
Giving an illustration to this will be of how the Whites used the Blacks then in those gone days to plant sugarcane. Should it be that they (the Whites) are autonomous absolutely, would they require the the aid of Africans. They would not have gone done for slavery or trade treaties and what have you.
Initially, what the poem intends to do is to make its readers – Africans – happy ones. To get this, he used words like ‘great’ and ‘glorious’ to laud them. After this, it continues to repeat the word “rejoice”. Also, the title has already established this theme and the body of the poem are just the blocks.
1. Rhetorical Questions: “For where would spring the flowers//If God took away the earth?”
2. Poetic Monologue
ABOUT THE POET
Gladys Casely Hayford is a versatile poet from….
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
The Editor cum Journalist, Ifadipe Success is working with the Yellow House Magazine as a book reviewer. Being an enthusiast of Literature, he left his busy time to read them. He writes Offa, a prominent town in Kwara State.