The poet as rainmaker: Fertility and pluvial aesthetics in Osundare’s "The Eye of The Earth"
In Niyi Osundare’s The Eye of the Earth, the poet functions as a primeval community’s shaman or rainmaker whose main duty is to ensure adequate rainfall whenever “the rains have kept their time” and drought persists beyond the vernal equinox. “Farmer-born” and “peasant-bred” in an agrarian community, the poet in the collection consciously and unconsciously assumes the role of rainmaker in his poetry. This is not only for the material good of his local agrarian Ikere-Ekiti community in Nigeria but also for the salubrious enrichment of the citizens of the universe whose well being depends on the pluvial fertility of the earth. Osundare notes that The Eye of the Earth was partly inspired by the Green Peace movement, which accentuates the significance of the poet’s evocation of the ancient tradition of rainmaking in the volume. This essay highlights the magico-religious tradition of rainmaking and examines the symbolism of the poet’s assumption of the role of a traditional rainmaker in synthesizing human experience in his poetry.
Key words: eco-criticism; fertility rites; mythology; Nigerian poetry.