Dragonfly Ay My Windowpane (1988) is written by Wole Soyinka, one of the greatest African (Nigerian) writers. Before beginning with the summary and detailed analysis, it is advised that you read the text of the poem once. Read poem.
‘Dragonfly at My Windowpane’ is a metaphorical poem. It depicts the colonial legacy of the whites (the English language) and cultural richness of the natives through the medium of language of their colonizers. ‘Windowpane’ and ‘Dragonfly’ symbolize medium (language) and user of the medium, respectively. There are many such significant symbols throughout the poem.
‘Dragonfly At My Windowpane’ carries messages that deal with deep thoughts. There is a lot of symbolism in the poem. To appreciate the poem, one has to explore these various symbols. A creature of the wind, dragonfly symbolizes change. ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘you’, ‘your’ too carry complex meanings.
So when i offer me, a medium as The windowpane, you beat upon it Frantic wings against the unyielding tolerance?
The dragonfly’s struggle against the windowpane can be understood as the poet’s struggle against the language he uses. The poet is Nigerian and he writes in English, a colonial language. It can also be understood as the reader’s struggle against the multiplicity that the language of the poet presents as African identities are conflicting with the European identities.
Yet did I envy this, the unambiguous pane And thought it clarity enough. But you must War upon it, wings of frosted light,
The poet feels that the colonizer’s limited vision and access (unambiguous pane) cannot lead them to succeed in knowing the psyche of the natives without having learnt hundreds of languages they speak as they have ‘wings of frosted light’.
Let it content you how in me I yield a stark view of the world, and trust
The poet feels proud as a native thinker and asserts that he would continue to write about his native people in the language of the colonizers.
Reference : Perspectives on Poems from New Literature (Book), Narayan Publishing House
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