Chinua Achebe



No Madonna and Child could touch

that picture of a mother’s tenderness

for a son she soon would have to forget.

The air was heavy with odours
of diarrhoea of unwashed children

with washed-out ribs and dried-up

bottoms struggling in laboured

steps behind blown empty bellies. Most

mother’s there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held

a ghost smile between her teeth 

and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s 

pride as she combed the rust-coloured 

hair left on his skull and then_
singing in her eyes – began carefully 

to part it . . . In another life this 

would have been a little daily 

act of no consequence before his 

breakfast and school; now she
did it like putting flowers 

on a tiny grave.




This is a poem about the evils of war. It uses a piteous picture of emanciating children starving and suffering during a war. While most mother have lost hope and stopped caring for their wards, this particular mother caught the poet’s attention with her matchless unwavering tenderness for her son. This expression of affection is perhaps futile since she soon would have to forget the child. The Poem is not sentimental as the poet writes with caution.



Chinua Achebe

Achebe was known as Africa’s leading novelist. This poem was taken from ” Johnson et al, New Poetry from Africa, 1996″.

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I am the Founder and Executive Editor of Core Magazine. I hold a Bachelors Degree in History and International Studies from Bowen University. I am the Author of "DARE TO RESEARCH". I have written and published over 16 Academic Research Articles. I believe in an ideal that all persons irrespective of their race, class or status can influence the society with creative writings and constructive thoughts to the point where they can succeed and develop their skills to seize rare opportunities.

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