The Songs of the Pipit is a newly published collection of poems by Malcom Little Black, an upcoming Nigerian poet.
Published and being sold by Amazon Kindle, the anthology is Black’s announcement of his debut as a new voice from Africa to watch out for on the literary arts scene. It is a remarkable revelation and unique success in the forging of art and intent into an irresistible morsel and golden spoon with which the poet feeds a suspect or disagreeable audience with an otherwise bitter broth!
The volume is a condemnation of the degenerate state of the world and all facets of human affairs today and a call for reformatory changes. With the palpable ecclesiastic strain of its theme, choice of subjects and illustrations, The Songs of the Pipit can easily answer to being a gospellic literature.
But in its style and treatment of the theme, it stands far apart as a distinct work of creative genius, veering away from the trite and somewhat boorish preaching and condemnatory exegeses of religious tracts and such forms of evangelical writings. In 42 short, crisp and engaging pieces sprinkled over 67 pages, Black takes the reader on an interesting tour of the contrasts of the beautiful and ugly conditions of the universe and various aspects of life therein – the environment, human conducts, lifestyles, living, relationships, religious creeds and practices, social systems and processes to Divine activity, natural laws and other transcendental phenomena and influences. He submits a picture of a world fast being overtaken and indeed overwhelmed by decadence, rot, corruption and dysfunctionality; contrary to what is ordained!
He cries for the earth’s pristine, idyllic and tranquil innocence to be restored and advanced to a perfect pedestal for its inhabitants to enjoy bliss. To achieve this, however, humanity has onerous role to play for allegedly distorting and upsetting the order and thus causing the attendant confusion and ills in the world today, says Black. The poet presses these points in no essential normative or peremptory form, but leaves the reader to deduce or infer them from a tapestry of subtle ironies, paradoxes and metaphors which lined the voyage route.
To Black, man’s detachment and frequent violations of the natural laws, especially the laws of natural development and sowing and reaping (Karma) is responsible for the calamity in human affairs. To heal and make the world a haven, he counsels men to return to and heed the ancient wisdom contained in the sacred scroll which, he says, is also “seated in the abode of mother nature” and exemplified by the simple, selfless and joyful activities of other creatures in nature such as the sun, stars, plants, flowers, insects, body of waters and other elemental beings and which on account of same, constantly radiate beauty, harmony and health. It is not surprising, therefore, to see Black devote ample space to celebrating nature, even as he gives vent to moral suasions too.
The poem, Ideal World, captures his vision of a new global order, one: “Where darkness will never fail, kindness will fill every word and love the foundation of every wall…/…a beautiful world/ Where the earthworm will feel safe to crawl,/Abundance that everyman can afford/And beauty will permeate every skull/ A world that, like in the past, responded to every call, where empathy reigned like never before/ And the human tree grow giantly tall…”
A highly inspirational work, The Songs of the Pipit also teaches the need to cultivate simplicity, patience, perseverance, fortitude, equanimity, empathy and selflessness among other virtues for man to navigate life unscathed.
The poet not only gets the reader to agree to his own guilt as part of humanity but also to empathize and enjoy even his censure of religious intolerance, hypocrisy, racism, materialistic cravings among others through employing a rare art that combines the subtlety of the harmless, contemplative monologue of a nature admirer with the cunning, stealth and whisperings dialogue of hunters on a determined trail of a quarry. An instance is when he points at the contradiction and stupidity in men casting admiring look /Upon the rainbow in the sky, which beauty is wrought in a wealth of colours; but a mean stare upon their brother’s skin of a different pigment! He reiterates similar point in an admonition in Save your religion: “Do not speak to me about Jesus/ and the religious cult/Show me His Word in deeds/ and in the righteous stalk/That I may lose my perch on the mound of doubt/ And plant my feet on the soil of Conviction. Don’t tell me about Buddah and the noble eigthfold path/If you must place Truth on the furnace of falsehood and turn up the furnace for cremation… /’ere you preach about Muhammad and the five pillars of Islam/First sprinkle peace like confetti/On the soul of Ramadan/ And raise stems of roses in place of sword/ That we may wage the Jihad in the name of Love.”
All the poems offer delightful offering of profound thoughts embroidered and displayed in a rich, silken lace of elegant diction and style which in their sheer beauty, vivid imagery and seductive lyricism enchant and makes one to thirst for more. Among them are: Nostalgia, Ideal World, Sotto Voce, For What it’s what?, Religion of Love, A Living Prayer, How Black is the Devil, Brotherhood, Values, Wealth, Black Orchid, Namaste, Flowers’ Canticle, To be (1), To be (2), Gratitude, Honour the Woman, Swan’s Inquisition, A Hollow Sound, Silence, Pilgrims, Millennia, Oodles of Melanin, and O.N.O.M.E (The African Child).
They are sequentially arranged in such a manner that the subject matter of one dovetail into another, enabling the reader to easily follow the central thread, relate the connections of the parts and appreciate the whole in its comprehensiveness. An example is where in a logical sequence As you wish it immediately follows What do you seek?
With The Songs of the Pipit, Black has given us both a delightful artistic treasure and most beneficial work of spiritual enlightenment worth investing on and engaging.