The Master Brewer
There is a distillery in our brains
Its cane and malt, its hops and grains
Are the stuff our lives are made of.
Blizzard and snow, bush fires or drought
Matches won by penalty shoot-out
Fortunes lost at toss of a coin
Over these and their likes, you are no doyen.
The fuel for this distillery?
Your emotions. Willy-nilly
You stoke the fires as you vent your spleen.
And another dram drip into the vat –unseen
The master brewer is not the stars
Not yet the gods. He is you, your very self.
The final brew has no choice. It must be
Bitter bile or sweet honey. But you can choose
The magic potion, which can vouchsafe the taste:
Your intentions, your memories and your reactions.
Prof. Lade Worsonu has been a prominent figure on the Ghanaian literary and academic landscape, being an essayist and columnist on a range of health issues in Ghanaian papers. He has worked extensively in health-related fields, with the WHO and across a number of African, Saudi Arabian and London universities.
He has nonetheless continues to dabble in the arts, having published a number of poetry volumes while still at his publishing best in many scientific journals. The poem I review here is one of his more prominent and more celebrated poems.
His personal website, http://www.wosornu.com, decrees that “his passion in life is to seek a closer walk with God. He strives for compassion such that he flings roses wherever he berths, bringing heaven-on-earth for others. No longer scared of terminal darkness, he sees his father of final light. Dancing to inner tunes of joy, barefoot on the embers of fortune, he prays to be of service to everyone, expect naught from any man, and, be God-sufficient by his sunset.”
This poem is a philosophical piece, likening the human body to some sort of industry, constantly at work, brewing. The distillery is in our brains (line 1) and it is fed in material by the stuff our lives are made of (line 3).
In the second stanza, Lade mentions a number of things which he describes in the final line of the stanza as things over which ‘you are no doyen’ (line 7). A doyen is a master of a group. Rightly, the things that are mentioned are outside his distillery, his industry, the body: blizzard, snow, fires, drought, the match-winning penalty shoot-out or the lost fortune over the toss of a coin. In effect, man has more power over himself over things outside him.
In the third stanza, he makes it clear that we stoke the fires of this distillery by our emotions: sometimes with intention, other times without. The phrase willy-nilly comes from ‘will I, nil I’, meaning ‘whether I wish it or not’. But as we ‘vent [our] spleen’ (line 10), small drops of fuel fire our distillery and our brewery keeps working on.
In the final stanza, Lade tells us how the taste of the final brew depends solely on us, not the gods or stars. Whether it is bitter bile or sweet honey depends on the ‘magic potion’ we put in it. And that potion, he concludes, is the make of our intentions, memories and reactions. The more positive your mindset, the sweeter the brew from your distillery; the more positive life becomes for you.
Interesting to see a blend of philosophy, art, mechanics and literature in the conjured imagery of yet another excellent poem.
[Ps: Sorry for all who received the poem titled ‘Flag Of My Victory’ in their emails and can’t find it now on my blog. It was meant for my more personal blog and I have taken it from this one accordingly. For those still interested in it (and I encourage you to read it if you are Christian too), please click here.]
Posted: January 6, 2013 in GHANAIAN POETRY