“The Metaphors of Africa”“Wishing Africa” is a poem in which many thought provoking metaphors are usedto make it come alive by giving the reader great illustrations. First of all what is ametaphor? A metaphor is a figure of speech that make comparison between two unlikethings, without using the words like or as. Marilyn Brooks utilizes metaphor to shapeone of the most interesting and dramatic poems. The essence of this poem lies within theThere are metaphors all through out “Wishing Africa,” but the first one is not ametaphor but a simile becuase of the use of the word as. “The wind delicate asQueen Anne’s lace” (4) is the first simile in the poem.
This line is significant because ithelps to let the reader feel the poem, to feel Africa. It shows the gentle ways of theenvironment, or the peacefulness of Africa. This helps to show why the poetic voicewould want to go back. The next metaphor in the stanza is , “The women’s bodies werevariable as coral” (9). This is one of the most imaginative lines in the poem. It gives thefeeling of beauty, as if swimming underwater in the Great Barrier Reef, looking at all thebeautiful creatures. This is significant because the poetic voice is trying to show howgreat and wonderful Africa was. It also serves as an illustration of the differencesbetween not just the women, but also ways of thinking.
The woman may representdifferent experiences the poetic voice has had since leaving Africa which has changed itsmind about the country and wishes it could go back there only one more time. Or theycould represent the different parts of Africa that the poetic voice misses so much. The next stanza is a transition from the first.
“I am threaded / with pale veins”(13-14) is the first metaphor in the stanza. This is used to show why the poetic voicecannot not return to the country it longs for. The words “threaded” (13) and “pale veins”are the key concepts in the metaphor. The word “threaded” (13) gives the image of pain. There are numerous possible reasons for the pain, the only limitation is the readersimagination. Also, when a piece of clothe is made, many pieces of thread are threadedtogether, and there is no way to get a single thread out without destroying the whole pieceof clothe itself. Maybe the poetic voice is saying there is no way that he can get awayfrom his “pale veins” or past, his past being his heritage or skin color.
The word “pale”(14) is used to illustrate that the poetic voice is white. It could be that he (poetic voice)was a slave owner or trader when it was in Africa and now it realizes that what it did wasnot right and is grief stricken. The next metaphor in the second stanza is, “I am full withdying” (15). The key vocabulary here is obviously, “full of dying” (15). This illustratesthe poetic voice’s sorrow for leaving Africa or his sadness for doing what he did while in Africa. Think of being full with something, that something is all you think about, allyou know. Now think about being “full of dying,” all the poetic voice thinks about isdeath and it torments him everyday.
Or maybe the poetic voice killed many Africansduring his stay there and now it haunts him every second of his life as he tries to escapeThe first metaphor in the third stanza is, “I grew meat in the earth’s blond side”(25). The key concepts are “grew meat” (25) and “earth’s blond side” (25). Thisshows one aspect of what the poetic voice did while in Africa.
“Grew meat,” (25) meansthat he (the poetic voice) was a plantation owner that owned slaves, that grew fruit, hencethe word meat, the fleshy part of the fruit. “Blond side of the earth,” (25) refers to thesunny or tropical climate of Africa. The author used these terms because they provokethought and feeling with in poem by giving the reader the sense that the earth is alive. “Idid it all with little bloody stitches,” (26) is the next metaphor. This metaphor issignificant because it again shows the poetic voice’s sadness and regret. These “bloodystitches,” (25) maybe the slaves the poetic voice used to do his work in Africa.
Theactual terms “bloody stitches” brings a whole other feeling to the poem.This feelings greatly contrast from those of the first stanza. Bowering uses these wordsbecause they suggest pain and suffering.
The pain and suffering that the poetic voiceexperiences everyday of his life due to the facts of what he did while in Africa.Bowering uses the next line again to so how the poetic voice is unhappy withwhat he did in Africa. “I am scented with virus,” (31) is the next metaphor.
The keyterms in the line are “scented” (35) and “virus” (35). The word “scented” is used to showthatthe poetic voice is tainted with what he did in Africa and cannot get away from it,as if “scented” by a skunk. The word “virus” is used becuase whenever a virus is thoughtof death closely related to it. The poetic voice used Africans and killed Africans to do hiswhite man’s work. Again, the next line are not actually a metaphor because of the wordas, (it is a simile), but it is vital to the poem. “I am white as a geisha/ my rootsindiscriminate” (35-36), this line again goes back to the color of the poetic voices skin. The image of a “geisha” (35) is used because it is a plant with white flowers. Boweringcontinually brings up the image of white (referring to skin color) because it is key tounderstand the poem to know that the poetic voice is a white person.
The other keyconcepts here are “my roots indiscriminate” (36). Bowering is trying to show that thepoetic voice is lost or confused. The word “roots” (36) is there to illustrate the poeticvoice’s family line. Again, we as readers, are not sure his past, but all the metaphors andsimile help to give a picture of what the situation might be. The term “indiscriminate” iskey because it shows that the poetic voice doesn’t know where he comes from andtherefore doesn’t know where to go now.
Mayrilyn Bowering used many metaphors to make the poem “Wishing Africa.” These metaphors open and make the poem come alive with every word. She makesyou,as the reader, think. The metaphors also make the reader feel the power of the words asthe come off the page and into your mind. Bowering’s “Wishing Africa” contains somevery imaginative and mind opening metaphors.