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Lesson Note

Subject: Literature In English
Topic: Summary Analysis of the poem ” The Song Of The Woman Of My Land” by Oumar Farouk Sesay.
Lesson Objectives: This lesson is aimed at helping learners understand the poem “The Song Of The Woman Of My Land”. So by the end of the lesson, the learners should be able to:

  • In few sentences describe the author;
  • Discuss the forms and meter of the poem;
  • Identify poetic devices used in the poem;
  • Explain the thematic structure of the poem;
  • Recite the poem.

Lesson Summary / Discussion

The the poem ”The Song Of The Woman Of My Land happens to be one of the selected poetry for 2021-2025 WAEC. So the analysis below will help our readers and candidates who may be taking WAEC, NECO, GCE and JAMB examinations to understand the poem and prepare for the exams.

Like a sculptor chipping away at bit of wood,
Time chisels away bits of memory
It strips away lyrical of the song of the land
Leaving only a fading tune echoing,
5. They a\ song in the forlorn fields
About their lives; sons
Of how many ploughed the terrain of their mindscape
For memories of lyrics lost in the vast void of time,
In those days when a song beheld their lives;
10. When servitude cuffed the ankles of their soul,
And dereliction decapitated the epics of their lives
With a song, they sponged off their anguish,
to behold their collective pain,
to celebrate their gains,
15. Give lyrics to the tune of their lives,
Cheat the tyranny of time,
And commune with the yet unborn
to give meaning to an epoch lost in antiquity
Yet time strips the lyrics and scars the tune,
20. Leaving dying song
Like the woman who died long ago,
Leaving the song to tell the story of their lives
Today the tune rooms the forlorn fields
30. Like their souls looking for lyrics.

See 2022 WAEC past questions with solutions on Literature in English

Meet The Poet

He was born in masingbi in tonkoli district. Sesay attended the magburaka Government boys secondary school. Thereafter, he finished his sixth form in ahmadiyya school in Freetown. He proceeded to study political science and philosophy at fourah bay college. He was the resident playwright at Bai Buren theatre in the 1908s. His poems have been published in notable anthologies of sierra leonean poets.
Sesay was cabury visiting fellow in 2009 at the centre for west Afro studies in the universe of Birmingham. He is at present, the focuses on the publishing the works of Sierra Leonean writers.

The poem is about the observed physical development by the poet of the woman in his land of birth. It involves the various stages: from childhood to adult hood and to aging with grace. This stages can be correlated with the Nigeria national teams: the Golden eaglet, the flying eagles and the super eagles from where the players retire due to aging. Sesay uses the form of a song to describe these processes. He observes in the physical growth of the woman in his community. A new song with time will join the class of the ” old school ” song and probably fade away, he also compares the growth situation to that of a ” sculptor chipping away bits of wood.” This poem is also a pointer to the fact that a woman’s beauty is not permanent. Therefore, the poem has a moral message for the next generation to ” make haste while the sun shines” in terms of getting married and experiencing ” the joy of motherhood.


The main theme of the poem is the non- permanent of a woman’s beauty. The poet observes the childhood grow to adult hood of the women of the land of his birth, and compares it to a “sculptor chipping away at bits of wood.” Nothing is permanent in this world, which is like a market-place where you buy or sell and leave. However, the beauty of a woman is very significant. Since at that age, she attracts suitors seeking for her hand in marriage. It is also the age the great decision, either to say “yes” or “no” to any of the suitors. Some young ladies are carried away by their beauty, pride, arrogant too late that their most priced asset of beauty is not attractive as before, due to aging. At this stage, the wise ones go for the available ones even as a second or third wife, since the desirable is no longer available.
The theme of making the best use of beauty as a young lady permeates the entire poem. The wise young women of the land, follow the counsel of their elders and “make haste while the sun sun shine.” As it affects their married life. Whereas, the foolish one see their beauty as a period to “catch fun.” When Its dawns on them that it is no longer fun as usual, it becomes too late for them to cry, such ladies in order to experience “The joy of motherhood,” go for any willing Married man. The poet while describing the growth phase of the women in the land of his birth, also uses this to pass a moral message to the next generation of the young ladies, to make the best use of their beauty before it fades away with age .
The poem also has theme of getting old and dying. the poet symbolizes the beauty of the women, with a song which leaves “……. only a fading tune echoing the song.” At the time of getting old with ” fading ” beauty they decapitate ” the epics of their lives ….” And ” with a song, they point out the moment of regret of the woman in the land. However, they console themselves with songs, after wasting the period of their youthful age on unnecessary pleasure of life. In the Fourth stanza , the women use the song to “……sponged off their anguish” as they endure “their collective pain” resulting from the fading away of their once beautiful bodies. However, they make themselves happy to forget challenges they now face, in view of the way nature fades away their beauty.
In the (fifth) stanza, the poet compares the fading of beauty as “time strips the lyrics and scars the tune,” their tune is that of regret that they are “leaving a dying song ” at getting old and eventually dying, without the marriage “gains” of being a beautiful woman.
In stanza (six), these women are compared to ” the woman who had died long ago” the only legacy they have is the song, “which tells the story of lives,” finally, in stanza 7(seven) the tune of their song roam the land forlorn fields, as their souls search for the lyrics of the song, which continue to tell the story of their lives. Generation not young women after then will probably learn from their sad experience of fading beauty.


Diction: Sesay uses song to symbolize his observation of fading beauty of women of the land of his birth. The song is one of the best options to express his observation, since it is a popular form of communication in the land. Besides, his language and message are simply to comprehend and enjoy.

Tone: the poet’s tone is that of caution for the next generation of young women, not to allow their beauty fade away, without the experience of marriage life, his tone of advice is based on his observation of the fading beauty of the women in his land of birth.

Mood: The mood of the poem is that of sympathy for the women, who did not take the best of their fading beauty. As a result of pride or arrogant attitude, they scare away the suitors but to realize too late beauty can fade away with age.

Personification: this literary device is used in line 2; “Times chisels away bits of their memory.” The word “time” is given the human quality of the ability to carry out an activity of chisel.

Imagery: sesay employs the use of imagery to vividly express his observation of the fading beauty of the women in the land. Accordingly as the sculptor chips ” away at bits of wood” vividly conveys to the reader the fading beauty of the women. The word “wood” is therefore an image of description for easy understanding of the subject matter, there also the image of “the forlorn fields” which points to the farms. The word “echoing ” in line four is an image that clearly recalls their state of beauty at their youthful age.

Alliteration: is used in the following line:

8 – “….cast void of time”
11 – “…..dereliction decapitated…”
19 – “….strips the lyrical and the scars ….”
23 – “leaving the song to tell the story…”
24 – “…..forlorn fields”

Simile: there is the use of simile for the purpose of comparison in lines:

1 – “like a sculptor chipping….”
22 – :like the woman who had….”
24 – “like their soul working for lyrics”

Didactic: this literary device of moral lesson IBS implied in the poem. Sesay indirectly is advising the next generation of the young women in the land not to misuse the beauty of their youthful age.

Symbolism: the poet uses the sculptor’s “chipping away at bits of wood” to symbolize the fading process of the beauty of the women of the land. Hr also symbolizes the aging process that makes the beauty of the women to fade away with a song, ” it strip away lyrics of the song the women of the land.” Hence as beauty of the woman fades away, it echoes the tune of the song.

The poem apart from stating the non permanent nature of the women’s beauty, is also a reminder that life is not permanent. Sesay x-ray show the women and by the same token, the human race pass through various phases of life. It kicks start with the childhood level, to the adulthood stage, getting old and dying. However, in the case of the women In the world in general, their beauty fades away with age.

The poem is didactic as the moral lesson is useful, for the next generation of women in Sesay’s land of birth. The saying “make haste while the sun shines” readily comes to mind, it applies to other aspect of life. Anyone who fails to make good of his time in achieving a set goal in life may never realize that objective again.

See 2022 WAEC past questions with solutions on Literature in English

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Study questions
1. Discuss the effective use of imagery in the poem
2. Discuss the moral significance of this poem.
3. Examine the poet’s mood in the poem.
4. What does Sesay find fascinating about the song of the women in his land.
5. Comment on the theme of non- permanence of a woman’s beauty in the poem.
6. Examine the use of symbolism in the poem.
7. How does Sesay use language to portray the non permanent nature of a woman’s beauty in the poem.
8. How does the poet present the theme of getting old and dying in those poem?
9. Discuss the fading of the women’s beauty in Sesay’s land of birth
10. “It strips away lyrics of the song of the woman of my land ”
Justify this assertion with a close reference to the poem.

Questions answered correctly? Bravo!!

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