Early Birds is a poem book for Junior Secondary Schools in Nigeria composed by Nigerian Legendary Poet, Niyi Osundare and commented on by Ayo Banjo. The book was first published in 2004 and then reprinted and republished in 2006 hitherto.

It consists of 43 poems spread across 87 pages of the book. The book began with a preface by the author where he discussed at large the book, its importance, and its significance to the younger generation. He closed his remark with a quote as stated below:

“Early Bird, rise with the sun. Let poetry fill your day with delight as you sing and think and grow.”

Poems In The Early Birds

  1. My Pen
  2. The Computer
  3. The Gong
  4. All Sorts
  5. Lend Me
  6. My Mother’s Loom
  7. Journeys
  8. The Aeroplane
  9. Faka Fiki Faka
  10. Up and Down
  11. Jos
  12. Lokoja
  13. Jo’burg Dawn
  14. The Nile
  15. Rain and Shine
  16. The Almond Tree
  17. Iroko
  18. The Guest Who Came to Lunch
  19. Song of the House Rat
  20. Overhead at the Roach Boulevard
  21. Grasshopper
  22. Firefly
  23. Let Us Not Forget
  24. Inu Rere
  25. Every Song Has a Story
  26. Grandma’s Words
  27. Open Secrets
  28. Love
  29. Power
  30. True Name
  31. Garden
  32. Milk
  33. Riddles (3)
  34. Kebuyeri
  35. Hints (3)
  36. Unequal World
  37. Song of the Little Bird
  38. The Pothole
  39. NEPA
  40. Gabriel Okara
  41. Wole Soyinka
  42. The Eagle and the Sun
  43. We Are

In this article, we would briefly look at the first 10 poems in the book to give you an idea of what you should expect in The Early Birds. We would also review the other poems in future articles.

My Pen

My Pen is a short piece of poem written in praise of a pen. The poem uses several literary devices to describe the poem such as “between the finger and the thumb” to show how a pen is held. The poet also employs the use of rhymes as every two consecutive lines rhyme. This is known as rhyming couplets.

Definitely, this is an amazing way to begin a book filled with an exquisite work of art. Here is a snippet from the poem:

Its life flows straight from its fountain of ink

With which it makes the longest link

It pricks and probes with its nifty nib

Its tiny tooth, its eloquent tip

Read In Full: My Pen

The Computer

Claiming the next page is “The Computer”. This is similar to the first poem as it is also written in appreciation of a computer. The poet once again makes use of a series of literary devices such as simile, personification, alliteration, and so on.

The poet also employs some rhymes since many of the lines rhyme although there were a few discrepancies. The Computer is another exciting poem that reminds students of how a computer works and its significance to humankind.

 Here is a snippet from My Computer Poem In Early Birds:

And purring like a friendly puppy

It swallows all its floppy

Feeding fast on a diet of disks

That cut our daily risks

Ready helpmate for the human brain

Reducer of stress and strain

Read In Full: The Computer

The Gong

A gong is a traditional mode of communication used by town criers, especially in many parts of Africa. It consists of a piece of bell-shaped metal that is struck with a metallic rod to produce a sound which enables the town crier to get the attention of the villagers when a message from the king is to be passed.

The poem begins with the sound produced by the gong “Kogo, kogo, kogo” and continues to describe the gong and its functions. It ends yet again by describing the sound produced by the gong. I specifically enjoyed the commentary on this particular poem and I guess you will also.

Here is a snippet from the poem:

Is the sound of the gong

Ancient song from the metallic tongue

It wakes the young

It wakes the old

All Sorts

All Sorts is a shortened term for “All Sorts of Experience”. Each stanza of the poem consists of two lines which describe certain experiences of the poet propelled by the location of his home. He started by describing the experience of a person living close to the ocean, then move on to picture the experience of himself walking and talking to trees in the forest.

He then shares his experience when swimming at a river near his home before ending the poem with his experience as a person born and living close to the market.

The poem is capable of connecting with the readers and you can easily visualize every word you read from the poet. The rhythm is a bit complex as it creates a rhyming scheme from the second line of each stanza.

Overall, All Sorts will surely give you all sorts of visualizations as you read it. Here is a snippet from the poem:

Born very near the marketplace

I know the traffic of voices

The comings and goings of human beings

Their many and endless choices… 

Lend Me

Lend Me is simply a short piece of educational poem that can help students learn about objects, including animals and their specific features. The poet talks about divergent objects and animals in the first line and describes their specific attributes in the second.

This is a great poem to teach students how to know more and identify objects. Here is a snippet from the poem:

I said to the squirrel

Lend me the beauty of your tail

I said to aloko

Lend me a pot of indigo

Read In Full: Lend Me

My Mother’s Loom

Another poem written in rhyming couplets (two rhyming lines per stanza) and gives a full description of a woman working in front of a loom. Looms are popular local machines used in the weaving of traditional attire known as “Aso Ofi” among the Yorubas.

The poet did justice to the process with every line and you will find it really interesting, especially if you do not have an idea of what a loom is. Here is a snippet from the poem:

Two standing poles and two across

Before them, she sits like a busy boss

A network of threads going up and down

Long enough to robe the town

Read In Full: My Mother’s Loom


Journeys is one of the poems that shows the versatility of Niyi Osundare in the Early Birds as each line mirrors the other in the stanza. The poem is quite an interesting one and an inspiration for young ones. The entire first line also rhymes with one another to complement the intriguing nature of the poem.

Here is a snippet from the poem:

I like the rest at night

But I miss the sun of noon

When the day is clear and bright

I long for shadows

Read In Full: Journeys

You may also like Journey Of A Man

The Aeroplane

This poem is in the appreciation of an aeroplane and exhibits the interplay of writing creativity of the poet and his ability to liken objects to other phenomena. An aeroplane was presented using divergent literary devices, especially simile and metaphor. It also utilizes a rhyming scheme of “abab” in each stanza to give a total of 6 beats to the poem.

Here is a snippet from the poem:

A gleaming eagle, conqueror of distance

A thrust and surge in impossible heights

Feast for the eye, beyond a glance

Far, far above the wing of kites

Read In Full: The Aeroplane

Faka Fiki Faka

Faka Fiki Faka is a poem about trains and you can guess the title is onomatopoeia. The first stanza is wholly onomatopoeic and describes the sound of a train as it moves. The poem then continues to describe places a train passes, its length, the number of wheels, the events as the train approaches, when it stops, and when it leaves the station.

This a brilliant piece of writing that also brings back memories of the old days when a train is an important mode of transportation for traders. Here is a snippet from the poem:

Fo fo fo fooooo

Faka fiki faka fi

Fo fo fo fooooo

Faka fiki faka fi

Read In Full: Faka Fiki Faka

Up and Down

Up and Down is a poem dedicated to Okey Ndibe, another legendary writer and poet in Nigeria’s history. The poem adopts the use of contrast within some stanzas and expresses the sad reality of life initiated by death.

It is a really brief, yet interesting ode to Okey Ndibe, the friend of Niyi Osundare. Here is a snippet from the poem:

My forest is full of trees

But each root knows the way

To the nearest river

The bitterest leaf paves the way

For the sweetest cure. Stay silent,

My friend, that I may hear your voice;

The shortest step

Is the mother of the journey

Read In Full: Up And Down  

Bottom Line

Early Birds is a comprehensive poem book not only for junior secondary school students, but anyone passing through the walls of a classroom. The poem analyses practical events linguistically in a rather simple and concise manner.

You really should check the poem out if you enjoy poetry and want to know more about certain events and objects without reading tons of books.


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