A Stylistic Analysis Of Some Selected Poems Of Wole Soyinka

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A Stylistic Analysis Of Some Selected Poems Of Wole Soyinka



Stylistics is a word derived from style; it is a discipline which studies different styles. It can refer to the study of proper use of words or language in proper places. Widdowson (1975, p 3) defines stylistics as “the study of literary discourse from a linguistic orientation”. He goes further by saying that what distinguishes stylistics from literary criticism on the one hand, and linguistics on the other, is that it is essentially a means of linking the two and has (as yet at least) no autonomous domain of its own. He also added that stylistics, however involves both literary criticism and linguistics, as its morphological make-up suggest: the ‘style’ component relating it to the former and the ‘istics’ component to the latter. Style has grown to mean so many things to so many people today. Carter (1989, p 14) is of the view that it is generally recognized that the style of a work can depend on linguistic levels-often simultaneously and that one fairly crucial factor is our expectation concerning the literary form or genre employed.

Haynes (1989, p 3) believes that the study of style is the study of distinctions: looking at what was said against what might have been said. Style is almost synonymous with variety. Style refers in a simple way to the manner of expression which differs according to the various contexts.

Style, being a versatile field, is defined depending on one’s field of study. Adejare (1992) makes this clear when he said that style is an ambiguous term. Lawal (1997, p 6) however, describes style as an aspect of language that deals with choices of diction, phrases, sentences and linguistic materials that are consistent and harmonious with the subject matter. He added that it involves the narrative technique of a writer in terms of choice and distribution of words and character. Lawal (1997, p 6) also added that it may be reckoned in terms of the sociolinguistic contexts and it may also be reckoned or analysed on linguistic, semantic and even semiotic terms.

This research notes that the stylistic analysis of this selection of poems has not been done so this research will address itself to analyzing these poems stylistically and examining the uniqueness of stylistics as it combines both linguistics and literary studies as it pertains to these poems. It is also addressing itself to examining how words are put together in transferring of message to the readers.

The ultimate aim of this research is to explore ways in which language use has been integrated in the selected poems. It is also aimed at analyzing some of the distinctive features that give the selected poems their identity. This refers to the recurrent features of stylistics employed by the writer.

In the same vein, this work will be concerned with striking and marked use of words in these poems in order to enhance effective transfer of message. The effects and functions of the stylistic elements as regards the poems will be looked at in the analysis.

This work shall be exclusively stylistic, and analysis will be conducted through the use of the following levels of analysis: lexico-syntactic patterns and choices, phonology, graphology and morphology. Analysis will be conducted using the stylistic elements in each of the above mentioned levels of analysis, such that it could provide a guide and be relevant to future researchers in a related field.

What fascinated the researcher into doing this work is the uniqueness of stylistics as it combines both linguistics and literary studies. The choice of words of Wole Soyinka marked by great scope and has also made the researcher to embark on this project and to choose some of Wole Soyinka’s works as the data.

This work will be of great benefit to those students in the field of language and literature who also have interest in stylistics. It will also inspire them more on how to analyse texts using the levels of stylistic analysis employed in this work.

The data for analysis have been randomly selected from the “Selection of African Poetry”- introduced and annotated by K. E. Senanu and T. Vincent. All the poems of Wole Soyinka in the selection have been selected. The poems are seven in number and they are ‘Abiku’, ‘To my first white hairs’ and ‘Post mortem’ written in 1967. ‘Telephone conversation’ written in the 1960’s, ‘Night’ and ‘I think it rains’ written in 1988 and the seventh poem ‘Procession 1-hanging day’ written in 1969. The poems will be analysed stylistically and the five levels of analysis already mentioned will form the basis of the analysis.

Wole Soyinka was born on 13 July, 1934 in Ake in Abeokuta, near Ibadan in Western Nigeria. After preparatory University studies in 1954 at Government College in Ibadan, he continued at the University of Leeds, where, later, in 1973, he took his doctorate. He showed interest and ability in poetry and drama while in the University.

Soyinka has published about 20 works: drama, novels and poetry. He writes in English and his literary language is marked by great scope and richness of words. His writings are sophisticated and show a profound exploration of human themes and concerns through a unique exploration of his cultural milieu. He has won many international prizes for his contribution to literature. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.

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