running splash of rust
and gold-flung and scattered
among seven hills like broken
china in the sun.

– J.P. Clark

The poet is a Nigerian of Ijaw origin. He was probably inspired to write about Ibadan having studied at the University of Ibadan. The poem was written in 1965.

The poem has embedded in it a combination of imagery and allusion.

…running splash of rust is an allusion to the brown roofs synonymous with the old city, flung and scattered paints a picture of disorderly houses which the the poet further likened to broken China which leaves one to imagine the extent to which the houses are scattered.

With no inkling  into the mindset of the poet, and the circumstance that led him to describe the city in such light, one is left to speculate whether the poem is an ode to the city or a form of criticism.


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