Nature in “The Sea Eats the Land At Home” by Kofi Awoonor

The poem ‘The Sea Eats the Land at Home’ was written by Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet and novelist. It is clear that poems are used to pass on information in an artistic way. For the purpose of describing nature and its relation with human beings, the author used different language skills. The poem revolves around the phenomena of floods described clearly by the adjacent sea to land and the challenges that it poses. This essay gives the description of nature and understanding of the fact how the poet wants his audience to capture the message in terms of its role, manifestation, strength, since he depicts environment as a symbol of life.

As a way of introduction, nature is sometimes friendly and unfriendly to human life. Most importantly, nature and life are similar concepts. Basically, nature involves how life interacts within the circles of existence and provides people with the main items. For instance, it supplies people with water through the rains and solar energy through the sun. It helps people sustain their needs considering the idea that water is crucial to human life. Moreover, the sun is essential for maintenance of people’s health. However, the poet aims at explaining that nature can act as a threat when much of what it provides is experienced. In that case, when rains exceed, they will cause floods and when the sun exceeds, it causes drought. In these cases, nature plays adverse and negative roles. Awoonor explains that floods cause damages and loss of property.


The poet uses the poem to show the role of nature. The latter has been broadly captured when he uses the sea and land. From the title of the poem ‘The Sea Eats the Land at Home’, the poet shows a fight between land and sea where it overpowers the land. Naturally, the sea contains water which is the fighting tool that it uses against the land. The poem offers an explanation of the nature on the example of a flood. The poet uses symbolism greatly to show the sea symbolizes floods. Additionally, the he shows the picture of how the ocean waters travel in the evening to interpret the way how the floods are increasing gradually “and sending it back at night; the sea eats the land at home”.

Most importantly, the poet uses nature to show how damaging it can be. He draws attention of his audience by showing how the flood has ruined structures. He says that the sea damages the cement walls and the intensity of the destruction is shown by effects on them. This shows that the floods were strong. Just as the waves in the sea, the flood moves with much force. This in return depict that there are winds that cause the flood of a high intensity.  The latter as well as the damage caused is also shown by movement of crucial objects. The poet says ‘collecting the firewood from the hearths’.

The poem also shows an unstoppable role of nature and its manifestation. The cement walls, that literary one could think were able to hold the water from the floods, are carried away. The mourning of women also shows the unstoppable nature of nature itself. They wail but there is no change of the damage that nature causes. This role is also manifested when the poets says ‘the angry water of the cruel sea’ (Awoonor 24). The fact that the waters are angry means that the rains are dropping violently and cannot be stopped.

Furthermore, nature is portrayed to be under the control of the gods and ancestors. Women in the poem are described to be mourning and crying for help from their gods. The poet says ‘and the mourning shouts of the women, calling on all the gods they worship, to protect them from the angry sea’ (Awoonor 12, 13 & 14). This means that nature is under control of the gods. Therefore, the latter and the ancestors have the ability to stop the negative impacts of nature. The people in the poem seem to believe in their gods. One character in the poem, Aku, is seen to be mourning desperately while doing nothing to help herself. She entirely looks up on her gods who seem to have abandoned her.

Nature has also played a role in bringing sorrow to the people. Floods come along with adverse effects. It leads to displacement of people and consequently to their deaths. Additionally, it robs them off their property. In the poem, we are shown the mourning of people where the floods have caused pain to the people. It has taken their property away and caused them to be displaced. Aku possesses sorrow for the adverse effects that the floods have brought to her. Her children suffer from the cold. Her property is carried away by the floods. In addition, animals are seen to have a hard time. The poet says ‘goats and fowls were struggling in the water’ (Awoonor 23). This shows the losses people have suffered. Adena is also grieved with sorrow and her joy is carried away by the floods. The trinkets she depended on as her dowry had been carried away by the floods.

Nature is also presented as interruptive. It disturbs people from their daily activities,. For instance, in the case of Adena, her marriage is interrupted. This is because she has lost her trinkets. This means that marriage cannot occur without the dowry. The goats and fowls are also interrupted. They should be feeding and instead, they are struggling in the waters. This role of the flood in the poem disorients the society’s activities.

Nature is often viewed as a divine force. It is believed that nature is under control of the gods and the latter offer nature according to the fact how humans follow the gods’ rules. For example, if human beings adhere to the god’s rule, nature will favor them but in case they do not do this, severe nature impacts will be given to them. Therefore, negative influences of nature are viewed as a form of punishment to human beings by the gods. In the poem ‘The Sea Eats the Land at Home’, it is seen that people solely depend on the gods for any nature change. They call on the gods when the adverse nature impacts are exposed to them. However, the gods do not respond to people. Their desperation reveals that nature is a divine force. The poet says ‘her ancestors have neglected her, her gods have deserted her’ (Awoonor 19 & 20). The neglecting and abandonment shows that the gods are displeased by the humans.

Most importantly, the concept of ecological phenomena is crucial in the study of the relationship of humans and nature. Ecology is the study of the interactions between living things and their environment. Nature is a part of the human beings’ environment. Therefore, an ecological phenomenon lies between the human beings and nature. Human beings cannot live without nature, as the latter provides people with the basic needs that are necessary for living. For instance, it supplies humans with air, water and a favorable living atmosphere. Human beings are prone to suffer when there is a problem in the provision of these essential products of nature. For instance, in the poem, people suffer when the flood hits their homes. They are displaced and most of their property is carried away. Therefore, a deep interaction between humans and nature is evident through the whole poem. The author confirms that the ecological phenomenon is a true concept. 

The poem poses a great question in the minds of human beings.Is nature more powerful than people are? Humans need to realize the fact that nature is a concept beyond their control but they can adjust their living according to what environment provides. In the poem ‘The Sea Eats the Land at Home’, the poet shows how human beings remained reluctant to take action after the floods. They stood in agony mourning to their gods. Instead, they could have sought ways in which the floods could not directly affect them. Aku’s children stood shivering in the cold instead of devising ways of warming themselves. Although preventing rains is impossible, one can show his or her power towards the floods. This is done by initiating ways to prevent floods and one can make efficient drainage systems for water. However, if people are struck by floods as in the poem, ones should relocate from their premises because their lives are important. On the other hand, nature can be termed as powerful because most of its products are beyond the control of humans. For instance, people cannot prevent rains from falling. From the poem, the poet shows how the human beings suffered under the impacts of heavy rains. They had no action to take to stop them. Therefore, they felt the powerful sense of nature.

The poem depicts various aspects of nature, such as rains, winds, thunder, and lightning among many others. In the poem, nature is portrayed in the aspect of rains. They are heavy to such an extent that there are floods in the region. Although rains have not been stated clearly in the poem, the fact that the sea is eating the land means that there is too much water. The poem also shows winds as another aspect of nature. The flooded water is being referred to as the sea. The aspect of wind is seen from the poem when the poet says that the sea is angry. It shows that the waters were on waves that caused by the winds.

Nature and human beings are dependent on one another. Humans depend on nature for the providence of basic essentials for a living. For instance, humans depend on nature for water that comes from the rains, air needed in respiration and other crucial elements of nature. On the other hand, nature also depends on humans. For rains to fall there must be preservation of trees as they tend to attract rain. For clean air, humans ought to preserve the air. Therefore, the interaction between nature and human beings is quite crucial. In the poem, nature and humans also interact. The poet explains this interplay from the negative side. Moreover, human beings in the poem are greatly influenced by the negative impacts of nature.

In the poem, the interaction between the nature and human beings is destructive. It causes pain to humans rather than benefiting them. The poet shows the destructions that nature exposes to people. The fact that ‘the sea is eating their lands at home’ shows that humans are being rendered homeless by the floods. This displacement of people from their homes causes discomfort to humans. Destruction from the interaction is also seen in the loss of property, as the water carried it away. The poet says ‘and carried away the fowls, the cooking-pots and the ladles’ (Awoonor 8 & 9). 

Also, destruction from nature has been extended into farming. The latter has been halted due to the excess waters caused by the flooding. It has taken the peoples land in which farming has been practiced. This is shown in the poem by the statements ‘the sea eats the land at home’ (Awoonor 5).  The waters also cause destruction in farming by carrying away the fowls. This shows that most of the livestock farming was greatly affected. The animals struggled in water which makes it clear that they ended up losing their lives.

The interaction between humans and nature turned to be destructive. The excess amount of water consequently led to the carrying away of people’s property and animals. The effect of the destructions was a possible outrage of hunger. This is because farming activities are disrupted and people don’t have another source of food. The interaction between humans and nature is also probably leading to displacement of people. Since their homes are occupied by the water, humans are most likely to migrate from their homes to other parts that are not flooded. This process will lead to other complications such as overpopulation, increased crime, emergency of severe diseases and strain on the available resources. Therefore, the effects of the interaction will be highly felt even by the people who have not been directly influenced.

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Nevertheless, nature is highly necessary for the lives of human beings and due to the dependency of life it is evident that nature is a symbol of life. Environment provides humans with the essential needs for them to live. For example, it supplies people with water, air and favorable living conditions to humans. Whenever human beings lack one of the essential, they will live in much suffering. In addition, nature can be a threat to human lives as it causes a lot of problems. For instance, in the poem, human and animal’s lives are greatly affected due to adverse effects of nature. The floods cause discomfort in human lives, loss of property. It also leads to displacement of people from the residence. Due to the rains, human’s health is put at a risk. The phrase ‘with her two children shivering from the cold’ (Awoonor 16) shows the condition that the children were in. Animal’s lives are also affected. They are left struggling in the water. Therefore, nature is a symbol of life in human beings and animals.

In conclusion, nature is a crucial element of human life. The poet shows how it indirectly influences the lives of humans. Therefore, people should be cautious of the effects of the nature adverse impacts. They should take initiatives to prevent their lives from destruction. Nature, on the other hand, has a wide variety of positive roles to play. Since nature and life are interlinked, humans largely depend on it. Nature is of great use to the humans and it gives the latter air that sustains their lives. A change in the positive roles of nature leads to great suffering among human beings. For instance, in the poem ‘The Sea Eats the Land at Home’, nature portrays its negative roles. As a result, human beings suffer under their great effects of nature. The floods carry away the human beings joy and bring suffering to them.

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