Ilu, the Talking Drum

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10 February 2012
Page 331
Ilu, the Talking Drum
For too long, people have neglected to remember where their culture stems from. The culture that lies in our past is connected to our present and ultimately, our future. Despite the possibilities that learning about our past can offer, there is no limit to how much despair can be found during the search. However, it is because of those faults that allow us to move forward in life. This point of view is the main focus in the poem “Ilu, the Talking Drum,” a tale revolving around the remembrance of the author’s culture. In any case, we may not be able to look back, but we can certainly move forward.

The main premise of “Ilu” is a tale of simplicity for the most part. It speaks about the simple pleasures of a nice day, beautiful areas, a serene silence, and the beauty of love making. However, with every bright side to a story, there is a darkness that accompanies it. Simply put, life is easily interrupted by the sight of chaos and the surrounding environments. Tunji, the designated main character of the poem, straps on his ilu, the eponymous instrument of the story, and begins to play a repetitive beat, “kah doom/kah doom-doom/kah doom/kah doom-doom-doom,” as a way to ward off whatever seems to be attacking the characters. At the end, the playing of the drum ends the poem, settling the story on a peaceful note.

The poem, penned by Etheridge Knight, speaks about how something so simple, such as the beat of a drum, can soothe even the most threatening of situations. It also reveals a few examples of wisdom, such as saying that the simple things in life are often the best. It also plays the reader’s sense of having security and peace, as if they want to be comforted by the thoughts of the poem. It also makes use of racial epithets, but used in a way to convey it as an informal term for an African-American. The story relies on the use of intense imagery, as the poem utilizes a creeping darkness as the...
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