Ode to a Drum Themes

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Africa

Although drum making exists as a craft and as an art form around the world, references to the gazelle clearly place this poem on the African continent. This is important to Komunyakaa's sense of his own identity as an African American. A subtext of the poem is that of political and cultural rebirth, or reincarnation. Just as the gazelle was defeated in the hunt, Africans were defeated at the hands of white colonialists. But like the gazelle who was given new life as a panther through the music of the drum, Africans will also rise up strong again with the help of their music and culture.

Cycle of Life

Through the drum maker's gifts, the gazelle has been given a new life. The drum maker also makes reference to his reverence for animal life by telling the gazelle that it was not "anger" that made him kill, but...

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This section contains 528 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Ode to a Drum Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Ode to a Drum from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.