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Vultures by chinua Achebe

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Vultures by chinua Achebe

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  • October 2013
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Vultures - Chinua Achebe
In the greyness
and drizzle of one despondent
dawn unstirred by harbingers
of sunbreak a vulture
perching high on broken
bone of a dead tree
nestled close to his
mate his smooth
bashed-in head, a pebble
on a stem rooted in
a dump of gross
feathers, inclined affectionately
to hers. Yesterday they picked
the eyes of a swollen
corpse in a water-logged
trench and ate the things in its bowel. Full gorged they chose their roost keeping the hollowed remnant
in easy range of cold
telescopic eyes ...
Strange
indeed how love in other
ways so particular
will pick a corner
in that charnel-house
tidy it and coil up there, perhaps
even fall asleep - her face
turned to the wall!
... Thus the Commandant at Belsen Camp going home for
the day with fumes of
human roast clinging
rebelliously to his hairy
nostrils will stop
at the wayside sweet-shop
and pick up a chocolate
for his tender offspring
waiting at home for Daddy’s return ...
Praise bounteous providence if you will that grants even an ogre a tiny glow-worm tenderness encapsulated in icy caverns of a cruel heart or else despair for in every germ
of that kindred love is lodged the perpetuity
of evil.

Glossary
charnel-house (line 26) – a vault where dead bodies or bones are piled up Belsen Camp (line 30) – Bergen Belsen was one of the mot notorious concentration camps of the Second World War. It became a camp for those who were too weak or sick to work and many people died because of the terrible conditions. Anne Frank was interned there and died of typhus in 1945. The camp was liberated in 1945. a) Discuss the poet’s portrayal of the vultures, paying close attention to his use of imagery and other poetic devices. - the poet describes the vultures in a bleak and depressing setting: ‘greyness’ and ‘drizzle’ of one ‘despondent dawn’. His choice of words paint a picture of a miserable environment - it is in this environment that the vultures perch, and by...