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The Sanskaar Valley School

Subject English Literature (Grade 7E)

Name: __________________ Date: _________

The Sea Eats the Land at Home

by Kofi Awoonor
At home the sea is in the town,
Running in and out of the cooking places,
Collecting the firewood from the hearths
And sending it back at night;
The sea eats the land at home.

It came one day at the dead of night,


Destroying the cement walls,
And carried away the fowls,
The cooking-pots and the ladles,
The sea eats the land at home;

It is a sad thing to hear the wails,


And the mourning shouts of the women,
Calling on all the gods they worship,
To protect them from the angry sea.

Aku stood outside where her cooking-pot stood,


With her two children shivering from the cold,
Her hands on her breasts,
Weeping mournfully.
Her ancestors have neglected her,
Her gods have deserted her,
It was a cold Sunday morning,
The storm was raging,
Goats and fowls were struggling in the water,
The angry water of the cruel sea;
The lap-lapping of the bark water at the shore,
And above the sobs and the deep and low moans,
Was the eternal hum of the living sea.
It has taken away their belongings
Adena has lost the trinkets which
Were her dowry and her joy,
In the sea that eats the land at home,
Eats the whole land at home.

The Sea Eats the Land at Home: Poem Analysis


Kofi Awoonor, formerly known as George Williams , poem The sea eats the
land at home is a rather long poem that uses multiple literary devices to
tell the reader and explain the pain the author felt through losing his home.

Williams was born in Wheta, Ghana to Ewe parents. Much of his early work is modeled
after his grandmother, who was a dirge-singer a type of Ewe oral poetry. Critic Derek
Wright reports, the poetry "both drew on a personal family heirloom and opened up a
channel into a broader African heritage." In Rediscovery (1964) and Petals of Blood
(1971), Awoonor uses the common dirge motif of the "thwarted or painful return" to
describe the experience of the Western-educated African looking back at his
indigenous culture. His most famous poem from the first collection is "the
Weaverbird." In it he uses the weaverbird, a notorious colonizer who destroys its host
tree, as a metaphor for Western imperialism in Africa. He describes the bird's
droppings as defiling the sacred places and homesteads. He also blames the Africans
for indulging the creature.

In the poem The Sea eats the land at home, Williams uses imagery to portray water
or the sea, symbolized by a vicious storm, as this evil entity that destroys his
home. The imagery Williams uses actually helps picture the damage caused by the
storm and the tone used helps me feel the emotional toll it may have had on him.

The whole poem itself is the personification of water into this beast that engulfs his
home and destroys the precious belonging and memories of its, the land,
inhabitants. It has taken away their belongings Adena has lost the trinkets which
were her dowry and her joy, in the sea thats eats the land at home, (Williams 28-
31). He starts this poem with the title and a great example of personification; the sea
eats the land at home. He personifies the sea again, this time as a thief; it comes in
the dead of the night, destroys the wall, and starts carrying away everything. There is
clearly contrast between his beginning description of the sea and what he is trying to
say now. With these lines there is clearly a more destructive element to the sea
now, something that is not normal with the usual actions of the sea. He emphasizes
this by saying again that the sea eats the land at home as if the sea is literally eating
the land his people live on.

Then he steps away from the sea, and to the people who are bemoaning this tragic
disaster. He creates a vivid image it is a sad thing to hear the wails, and the
mourning shouts of the women calling on all the gods they worship, to protect them
from the angry sea," (11-14). With these words, he provides ample imagery of the
torment the people are going through,to see their homes and lives be carried off by
the "angry" sea. He sums up the poem by simply restating the title In the sea that
eats land at home, eats the whole land at home. To me Awoonor states this in the
end to emphasize that the sea doesnt just eat part of the sea at home .Hes
emphasizes that the sea eats the whole land at home and destroys many lives in his
home town and the reflection of that is sad in occasion.