This article examines the works of one of the earliest Yoruba poets, Denrele Adetimikan Ọbasa (1879–1945), a member of the local intelligentsia in colonial Nigeria. In my assessment of the poet as a culture activist and local intellectual, I draw on biographical information, extensive archival research and relevant textual illustration. The central argument of the article is that Ọbasa exploits Yoruba communal oral resources for ideas, themes and other linguistic influences in his poetry. Therefore, the essay explores the creative ability of Ọbasa to preserve different forms of oral literary material in his poetic composition and how he uses the folkloric materials as instruments for raising the social consciousness of his readers. At this level, the article argues, Ọbasa transforms oral traditions into metaphorical and symbolic language that best articulates his political or philosophical positions. Thus, orality is not static, but dynamic, flexible and adaptable to change. The main article offers translations of excerpts from Ọbasa's poetry, while the online supplementary material offers more complete samples of Ọbasa's poems.