A Wreath of Tears: Poem Analysis

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“A Wreath of Tears” is a touching funeral tribute.

The writer, Kobena Eyi Acquah dedicated it to the pastor of a Methodist Church called Osofopon S.B Esamuah.

A Wreath of Tears Video Analysis

The deceased was the president of the Methodist church of Ghana from 1979 to 1984.

Osofopon means a head pastor or reverend minister in Akan Language.

The poet tells the noble nature of the senior minister .

He also reveals some issues which arose during his funeral.

We will look at

  • the explanation of the poem
  • themes
  • structure
  • literary devices
  • questions and answers.

But first, let’s read the poem.

Explanation of the Poem

In most Ghanaian societies, people use a lot of money to organise funerals. Some go as far as taking huge amounts of loans to honour the dead.

The poet expected a big funeral ceremony for a man with such great reputation but that was not the case.

Since the poet knew about the humble personality of the reverend, he suspected it was how he wanted it.

Because the reverend has led many burials, he is aware that grief is a private matter.

Another issue that arose was whether to send flowers or not.

The decision to send flowers brought about an unwanted misunderstanding.

The poet is not happy about the fact that a petty issue of flowers could cause an argument.

Funerals bring the loved ones of an individual together not separation.

Instead of flowers, the people at the funeral create a special wreath using memories.

They choose flowers like roses, ivy, ferns, lilies, and chrysanthemums. Each flower represents a different memory.

What’s powerful is that everyone contributes to this wreath, making it a group effort.

The poet compares it to a lovely garden that grows from the tears and memories of the minister who has passed away.

The wreath is not a physical object like a tombstone. Instead, it is a symbol of shared emotions that will last for a long time.

This personal wreath, worn around the hearts of loved ones, will last more than any tombstone.

It also says that the connections we have with people in our hearts are more important than physical things.

In a “wreath of tears”, the poet helps us see the beauty in a quiet and simple goodbye.

The poem talks about the personal side of grief, and the lasting power of memories.

Sometimes, meaningful goodbyes don’t need big ceremonies.

Themes in the poem

1. The death of an individual affects those who are very close to him/her more than others who are not. So, grief is more for family and loved ones and less for the public.

2. Funerals should unite loved ones not cause disunity among family and friends. It is not a place for conflict over petty issues.

3. A meaningful farewell lives in the heart but not in the display of physical things.

The tone is that of mourning for a deceased person and the pain associated with losing a loved one.

The poet uses uneven lines in writing without any rhymes. The difficulty of the words used are intermediate.

There is also the use of short lines at the beginning of each stanza.

Literary devices

  • We would have sent flowers
  • We wear it

From the garden of memory: The poet uses the garden to represent a collection of memories.

A rose here, an ivy there, rose lilies, chrysanthemums.

The poet uses these different kinds of flowers to represent memories.

And drop by tearful drop we wove: This line describes by appealing to our sense of touch and sight. It creates an image of pain and sorrow

Suddenly blooming as with first rains: The poet uses the sound word, “blooming”, to show the opening of a flower.

1. Whose funeral is the poet talking about?

Answer: Osofopon S.B. Esamuah

2. What will outlast any tombstone?

Answer: The wreath of tears

3. What is the tone of the poem?

Answer: Sorrowful/sad

4. Mention some qualities of the departed soul.

Answer: Humble and respectable

5. Why was the funeral ceremony brief?

Answer: The deceased might have liked it that way

6. State three literary devices in the poem.

Answer: Alliteration, imagery and metaphor.

7. What major social issues did the poem raise?

Answer: the nature and cost of funeral celebrations

Answer: Disagreements and conflicts which occur during funerals

8. Why would they not send flowers to the funeral ?

Answer: They did not want to offend anyone

9. Comment on the mention of flowers.

Answer: Flowers are delicate and beautiful. They show strong emotions even without using words.

10. What is the meaning of, ” having buried so many yourself”?

Answer: It means he has conducted many burial ceremonies.

11.What had fallen Callously into disrepute?

Answer: The flowers

Thank you for reading to the end. What do you think about this poem?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


George is interested in self-education, knowledge building and self expression through writing!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Salifu Mohammed Siisu Badimsugru

    Infact , I like the systematic appreciation of the poem ” a wreath of tears” the structure, tone diction and devices are well placed and there could be nothing expected than what has been provided. I enjoy literature and will always pursue my interest to write and appreciate literary work. I shall rise to the task since disuse numbs the wrist.

  2. John

    The poem is interesting