Chinua Achebe Poems

Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist and poet who is also remembered for his work as a professor and critic. His masterpiece, Things Fall Apart, is read in classrooms around the world and is the most widely read book in modern African literature. 


by Chinua Achebe

‘Answer’ by Chinua Achebe portrays a persona shedding off insecurities about his homeland. He stops comparing it to that of his colonizers, seeing it as the vibrant place it always was.

Chinua Achebe's poem showcases his profound understanding of human experiences, particularly within the African context. His poetry, like this piece alludes to, often addresses themes of identity, culture, and the impact of colonialism. Achebe's poetic style is characterized by his allusions and incredibly powerful language.

I broke at last

the terror-fringed fascination

that bound my ancient gaze

to those crowding faces

Love Cycle

by Chinua Achebe

‘Love Cycle’ by Chinua Achebe describes sunrise, sunset, and their effects on Earth using the metaphor of a barely happy couple.

Known for his deep reflections on African culture, identity, and history, Achebe's poetry often integrates universal themes. In 'Love Cycle,' Achebe uses nature as a metaphor for love, capturing the cyclical nature of emotion. His poetic approach allows the reader to explore love's multifaceted aspects without being restricted to a particular cultural context.

At dawn slowly

the sun withdraws his

long misty arms of

embrace. Happy lovers

Air Raid

by Chinua Achebe

‘Air Raid’ by Chinua Achebe is a poem that provides a glimpse into the Nigerian/Biafran Civil War using symbolism and dark humor.

Achebe's poem showcases his preoccupation with his native Nigeria and, like much of his work, contains a satirical edge.

It comes so quickly

the bird of death

from evil forests of Soviet technology

A man crossing the road


by Chinua Achebe

‘Dereliction’ by Chinua Achebe is an ambiguous poem in which three speakers elaborate on the action of, a probable consequence of, and probable pardon for, failing to fulfil one’s duties.

This is not very famous among Achebe's poems. It is understandably overshadowed by other poems which Achebe wrote heavily influenced by the Biafran war. It was also written in Achebe's later years when he had become a literary legend, mostly for his prose, not poetry.

I quit the carved stool

in my father’s hut to the swelling

chant of saber-tooth termites

raising in the pith of its wood

a white-bellied stalagmite

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