Chinua Achebe

(1930 - 2013 / Igbo village of Ogidi)

Refugee Mother And Child - Poem by 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

Source: Staff/article25055826.ece/ALTERNATES/h342/Famine< br>Source:

mothers 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.

Comments about Refugee Mother And Child by Chinua Achebe

  • Margaret O Driscoll Margaret O Driscoll (2/13/2016 1:55:00 PM)

    Heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking (Report) Reply

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  • Ernest Makuakua Ernest Makuakua (12/16/2015 3:31:00 AM)

    this is my favourite poem from school i enjoyed this piece and still do (Report) Reply

  • John Richter (6/24/2015 7:42:00 AM)

    At first I thought this was going to be based on Madonna and the Christ child.... Reading on though made me realize it wasn't. The empty blown bellies left me without a reference..... Until the very end when I realized he was comparing a poor woman who - in the spite of such disease and famine - still loved her dying starving children while other mothers had hardened their hearts to prepare for the blow of their children's deaths. Discovering that Chinua's village is in Nigeria suddenly brought this poem to 'immaculate' heights on my list, pardon the pun. There is surely no better single definition of Madonna that that which Chinua found.... (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (6/24/2015 4:55:00 AM)

    Words really hit home - bravo (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty Pranab K Chakraborty (6/24/2015 2:30:00 AM)

    So many senses knitted with a single string. Poverty, pollution, unavailable health-service........etc. And overall the catastrophe a flower in a grave. Just it's an work as Achebe should compose. Great. (Report) Reply

  • Akachukwu Lekwauwa Akachukwu Lekwauwa (6/24/2015 12:46:00 AM)

    Chimnua! The undying love of a mother (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, June 19, 2015

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