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The Elements and Function of Poetry
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  1. Old English heroic poetry - The British Library
  2. Get PDF Elements of Praise: Poetry of the Spirit
  3. History of poetry
  4. Oral Literature in Africa
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Many examples have been published in the original or in translation though as yet these are probably only a fragment of what could be found , and there is a large literature about them by scholars in South Africa. A certain amount of narrative is involved—the description of battles or hunts, and the exploits of the hero. But the general treatment is dramatic and panegyric, marked by a tone of high solemnity and a lofty adulatory style. The expression is typically obscure and intense, and the descriptions are presented in figurative terms, with allusions to people and places and the formalized and poetic praise names of heroes.

It has been particularly well documented among the Nguni-speaking peoples a group which includes Zulu, Xhosa, and Swazi as well as the offshoot Ngoni of Malawi and the Sotho groups including, among others, the Lovedu and Tswana ; and it also occurs among such people as the Venda and the Tsonga-speaking groups.

Old English heroic poetry - The British Library

Although at different periods and among different peoples there are differences of tone and form which would have to be considered in a detailed account of this poetry, 14 in general they share the same form and here they will be treated together. Besides these famous Southern Bantu forms, similar poems occur elsewhere among the Bantu, notably among the cattle-owning aristocrats of East Central Africa.

Even a stick may be apostrophized in high-sounding terms, as in this Zulu poem:. Guardsman of the river fords, Joy of adventurers reckless! Dhlomo 6. Among the pastoral Zulu cattle are a particularly popular subject, but wild animals also appear. Cruel one, killer whilst laughing. The Crocodile is the laughing teeth that kill.

Lekgothoane Consider, for example, the following Southern Sotho praise poem with its vivid and concise description of a pig:. Pig that runs about fussily, Above the narrow places, above the ground; Up above the sun shines, the pig grows fat, The animal which grows fat when it has dawned. Pig that runs about fussily, With little horns in its mouth. Lestrade 9. Indeed there is often an intentional ambiguity in the poems between animal and person, and some poems can be interpreted as sustained metaphors. The following Northern Sotho poem appears to be about a leopard; but the allusion is to the chiefs of the Tlokwa, whose symbol was a leopard:.

It is the yellow leopard with the spots The yellow leopard of the cliffs It is the leopard of the broad cheeks Yellow leopard of the broad face, I-do-not-fear The black and white one, I-get-into-a-small-tree. I tear off the eyebrows 16 Clawer am I, I dig in my claws My people adversaries I leave behind Saying: this was not one leopard, there were ten. It is full of blood, it has got the liver Leopard of Bolea.

Yellow leopard of the clan Maloba the great Yellow spotted one Poor nobody, active smart fellow that summons together a huge gathering My victim goes away with his scalp hanging down over his eyes Leopard of the many spots Leopard of the very dark spots Leopard grand old man formidable one Even when it can no longer bite, it still butts its adversaries out of the way with its forehead. Lekgothoane —5. In some areas these include self-praises, such as those composed by boys on their emergence from traditional initiation schools or by warriors on their return from battle.

Others occur in the relatively informal context of a wedding when a woman may be praised which is otherwise unusual. Most ambitious and elaborate of all are the praises composed and recited by the professional bards surrounding a king or chief. The following extract from one of the many praises of the famous Zulu king, Shaka, illustrates the use of allusion, metaphor, and praise name which are combined with some narrative to convey the bravery and fearsomeness of the king as he defeated his enemy Zwide:.

His spear is terrible. The Ever-ready-to-meet-any-challenge!

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The first-born sons of their mothers who were called for many years! He is like the cluster of stones of Nkandhla, Which sheltered the elephants when it had rained. He invades, the forests echo, saying, in echoing, He paid a fine of the duiker and the doe. He is seen by the hunters who trap the flying ants; He was hindered by a cock in front, By the people of Ntombazi and Langa [mother and father of Zwide]. He devoured Mdandalazi son of Gaqa of the amaPela; He was lop-eared. He is like the cluster of stones of Nkandhla, Which sheltered elephants when it had rained ….

History of poetry

The Eagle-which-beats-its-wings-where-herds-graze! He drove away Zwide son of Langa, Until he caused him to disappear in the Ubani; Until he crossed above Johannesburg and disappeared; He crossed the Limpopo where it was rocky; Even though he left Pretoria with tears. He killed the snake, he did not kill it in summer, He killed it when the winter had come. Grant —3. Nketu frog of the regiment, companion of Shakhane and Ramakh-wane, Stirrer-up of dust, you came from the centre of the plateau of Rathsowanyane, The child of the chief of Qhwai saw you, You were seen by Ratjotjose of Mokhethi; Cloud, gleaner of shields, When Nketu is not there among the people, The leaders of the regiment cry aloud and say, Nketu and Ramakhwane, where are you?

Lestrade However, other subjects are also introduced. Comments on personality, 19 and criticism which can provide a kind of social pressure on an unpopular chief, are not uncommon, and sometimes sarcastic or even insulting remarks are included which, among the Ngoni at least, are said to represent a high kind of praise—such comments are so ludicrous that they could not possibly be true Read Praises composed more recently may include references to, for instance, winning a case in the High Court Morris 84ff. But it remains true that the most outstanding and beautiful of the traditional praises are those to do with war and often more peaceful exploits are expressed in military terms.

The basis of the events mentioned is authentic, but the emphasis is on those incidents in which the hero excelled. Thus even if reverses are mentioned, they are expressed euphemistically. Even if a war was lost, the hero won one of the battles. The opponents are frequently referred to in contemptuous terms, compared, for instance, to a small and despicable ox, or to a bull without horns fighting against a conquering and triumphant bull. Many of them are against neighbouring peoples in South Africa and involve not only pitched battles but more mobile cattle raiding.

Wars against European invaders are also frequent occasions for praise poems—and, as Norton puts it, one may wonder whether the exploits of the conquerors were celebrated in as poetic and elevated a manner as some of those of the conquered Norton Mavuso of Ngwane, Dangazela [i. Mavuso] of Ngwane of Sobhusa.

News of war eats the child still in the womb. If a person can walk he would have run away. Flee ye by all the paths, Go and tell the news to Mpande of the Zulu: Say one elephant ate another, And covered it with dress material and quantities of beads. O chief that fights with the light of burning grass until the dawn comes.

They were saying that Mswazi was a boy herding calves; We shall never be ruled by the hoe stood in the door of Majosi-kazi. He will rule Mkuku and Msukusuku. O one who comes in and goes out of sandy places, O bird of Mabizwa-sabele You are called by Shila of Mlambo, For him you asked cattle from Mhlangala, You are asked by Mawewe to ask cattle from Mzila of Soshan-gane. Dutchmen of Piet Retief, we do not approve of you, We blame you By stabbing the chief who was helping you.

You cry at the grave of Piet Retief, You cry at the grave of John. O one alone without an advocate Although Ntungwa had one: Our chief who can stab, I never saw a man who could stab like him. He stabs with an assegai until he tires. Mngqimila who bears a headdress of feathers, Mababala who arms on a bad day, Lomashakizela [one-who-goes-quickly], Lomashiya impi [one-who-leaves-his-army-behind], Bayete, Bayete.

Cook Clan praise names are used in formal address to clan members; a Tswana clan, for instance, has the praise name Mokzvena from kwena, a crocodile, the symbol of the clan , so an individual of the clan may be called by the general praise name of Mokzvena. In addition many individuals have their own laudatory epithets which refer to their character or their deeds; these epithets are usually bestowed on kings, leaders, and outstanding warriors.

Some poems seem to make special use of these praise names, but in all of them the inclusion of these colourful epithets adds both grandeur and imagery to the verse. The order is variable because the different stanzas are often linked not by specific meaning but by their general application to the hero of the poem; it is often as important to convey a general picture of his actions and character as to present his exploits in a narrative within a chronological framework.

The whole composition is extremely fluid, with given stanzas sometimes appearing, sometimes not, or some versions combining into one poem what others give as two or even three distinct praises. There seems to be no attempt at regular quantitative metre, for the stanzas are made up of irregular numbers of lines each with varying numbers of syllables, but the variety in syllable numbers by some considered a mark of richness in itself is bound together not only by the over-all pattern of this strong stress rhythm, but by repetition, parallelism, and other devices to be discussed below.

This has been studied in some detail in the case of Southern Sotho and especially in Zulu praise poetry Mofokeng ff. The melodic aspect centres round a limited series of notes, enough to provide a contrast with the less formalized speech of ordinary prose. The ends of stanzas in particular are brought out by the lengthening and special pitch often a glide of the penultimate syllable.

This amounts to a kind of concluding formula, melodically marked, for each stanza a detailed description is given in Rycroft This is a praise poem of Moshesh:. Child of Mmamokhathsane, Thesele praise-name , Thesele, deep chasm, Cattle enter into it on their way,. Also people enter into it on their way. You who give the BaKwena cattle to kill, Please give your aunt cattle to kill, Please give Mmasetenane cattle to kill, that she may carry the meat away, That she may say, These are the fat stomachs of cattle and of people.

Lestrade 4—5. Alliteration and assonance are both appreciated and exploited by the poet. In Southern Sotho praises, prefixes and concord also appear in characteristic ways, with certain rare omissions of prefixes, and with contractions. These take various forms, and can be illustrated from the praise of Moshesh just quoted. In the third and fourth lines of the first stanza there is parallelism of meaning as well as, in part, of the words, with the second half of the line repeated identically the second time and in the first half a repetition of the same verb but with a different noun.

Parallelism by which the same person is referred to by different names can be illustrated in the second and third lines in the second stanza, where the proper name Mmasete-nane refers to the same person mentioned earlier, with, again, identical repetition of other parts of the line.

Both these forms of parallelism are common elsewhere in praise poetry. There are also many other forms: sometimes the repetition is not exact but the repeated phrase has something added to it, thus leading to progress in the action:. He has taken out Ntsane of Basieeng He has taken out Ntsane from the cleft in the rock. Mofokeng Or the thought may be repeated in following lines even when the wording is different:.

Schapera In Southern Sotho, for instance, the interjections hele expressing surprise , he of a wish , or pe a recognition of something overlooked are frequently used to convey emotion. But it also arises from the great emphasis on allusion in this form of poetry, to historical events, places, and peoples. As will be obvious from some of the examples quoted, the use of proper names is often extensive and at times stanzas consist mainly of a catalogue of names and places.

By far the most common form is that of metaphor. The crocodile looked in the deep pool, It looked with blood-red eyes. Most frequent of all are comparisons to wild animals, to their bravery, wildness, and fearsome appearance. Thus a hero may appear as a lion, a spotted hyena, a big vulture, or a buffalo. In some praises the hero speaks in his own voice and himself draws the parallel with an animal or a series of animals:.

I am the young lion! The wild animal with pad-feet and black back! Whose father has given up hope from the beginning and whose mother has wept for a long time. I am the fine elephant of the Mathubapula, the finest elephant in the Matsaakgang. Ellenberger The whirlwind [i.


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The rumbling which is like the roll of thunder, Ox belonging to the younger brother of the chief … I am the wind that raises the yellow dust, I am the rhinoceros from the Badimo cattle-post, Son of Mma-Maleka and nephew of Lesele Mofokeng The hail that came down in the middle of winter, And came down at emaKhophana. The elephant that took fire in a pot-sherd, And went and set the kraals of men alight, And burned down those of all the tribe Ellenberger 6. Someone may be said to be. The confusion and fierceness of the battle may be indicated by.

The small herbs were frost-bitten in the middle of summer … The trees lost their leaves, The sparrows, the birds that lay eggs in the trees, forsook their nests Mofokeng , He left grieved in his heart He left with the heart fighting with the lungs, Heaven quarrelling with the earth Mofokeng There is little stress on personal emotions, lyrical descriptions of nature, or straightforward narration. Rather a series of pictures is conveyed to the listeners through a number of laconic and often rather staccato sentences, a grouping of ideas which may on different occasions come in a different order.

In this way impressions are communicated with economy and vividness. Nevertheless there are also vivid descriptions of the action itself in a way which fits the partly narrative aspect of praise poetry. Thus there are many examples of battle scenes in Southern Sotho praise poems. Here the sounds of the words, as well as the meaning, sometimes serve to heighten the effect:.

Cannons came roaring, the veld resounding Sword came tinkling from all sides Kanono tsa tla li kutuma thota e luma. Lisabole tsa tla li kelema kahohle Mofokeng The lion roared when it saw them near. It jumped suddenly, wanting to devour them They ran in all directions the people of Masopha, They ran in all directions and filled the village, They scattered like finches. In response, black slaves in Cape Colony started to syncretise their traditional musics, fusing their vocalities, melodies and rhythms into Christian religious musics as a means of preserving them without harassment.

Yet, the British expulsion of the vast majority of the black population and the resultant establishment of the rival exile states e. As oral traditions that adapted to the times, a great deal of traditional music was nurtured around warfare and social struggle: for example, under King Shaka, immense ukweshwama ceremonies were held in Zululand where they morphed from a harvest festival into a symbolic enactment of the might of the Zulu amabutho , with spectacular dance-song performance featuring new warfare-derived choreographies against a powerful beat provided by collective foot-stamping as before and also now the smashing of spears against shields from the amabutho themselves.

In the shebeens of the townships, Marabi and mbaqanga , as pan-tribal dance forms, helped to unify the diverse indigenous tribes further into a united black liberation movement. Though less central to the black South African struggle than the others, mbube and isicathamiya offered isolated Zulu workers in the cities a means of building community and a vehicle for escape, for catharsis and for maintaining links to their traditional customs and identities. On top of this, the state intensified its direct persecution of musicians: huge swathes of musicians were imprisoned and a great number of outspoken oppositional musicians were executed including famous names like Vuyisile Mini.

This repression resulted in an exodus of musicians from South Africa, initiating a diaspora that included eminent South African musicians e. Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim who helped to bring global attention to the music and plight of black South Africans around the world. However, in spite of, and perhaps even to some extent because of, this censorship, music became increasingly politicised over the next decades under apartheid.

Yet, after the implementation of censorship, engaging in music became a powerful act of cultural resistance in itself and music became ever more prominent as a tool for political organisation in uninhibited autonomous black environments in the townships and cities. Music was even employed as a tool for direct social rebellion: makwaya were sung collectively at protests and at mass demonstrations of mourning e.

Moreover, musicians developed shrewd ways of bypassing censorship e. Shifty Records , enabling them to exploit new channels of broadcasting for envoicement and empowerment without detection. Outside South Africa itself, diasporic musicians helped galvanise an international solidarity effort: the Artists United Against Apartheid and the Rock Against Racism movements brought attention to the suffering of black South Africans; the cultural boycott, though controversial e.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo , who helped to further expose the horrors of apartheid. Nelson Mandela alike have recognised the central role that music played in the liberation struggle. Since the fall of apartheidand the ascent of the ANC, South Africa has restored the presence of its own traditional musics, upholding the right of traditional communities to maintain their oral customs and cultural rituals, integrating the study of traditional culture into the national curriculum, displaying its diversity at local and national festive celebrations and encouraging the continued development of syncretic musical forms.

Eminent exiles have returned home to triumphant receptions, recent regulations guarantee a strong presence for South African musicians on state radio stations and mbaqanga , isicathamiya and a whole host of new hybrid forms have become popular, and have received acclaim, on national and international levels. Blacking, John, How Musical is Man? Seattle: University of Washington Press, Coplan, David, In Township Tonight! Meintjes, Louise, Sound of Africa!

Nel, Andries et al. Rycroft, David et al. Walton, Chris and Stephanus Muller eds. Header Image: Flickr. Zulu Amabutho : Ian Knight. Mandela in prison under apartheid : Britannica. Host of World Cup: Egypt Independent. Modern-day izibongo : Chronicle, Incwala ceremony: Sandile Nkambule, Swazi Observer. Mokhibo dance: Ludo Kuipers, Cape Malay traditional performance: Africa Media Online. The electric maskanda : Maskandi.


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Mavuso] of Ngwane of Sobhusa. News of war eats the child still in the womb. If a person can walk he would have run away. Flee ye by all the paths, Go and tell the news to Mpande of the Zulu: Say one elephant ate another, And covered it with dress material and quantities of beads. O chief that fights with the light of burning grass until the dawn comes. They were saying that Mswazi was a boy herding calves; We shall never be ruled by the hoe stood in the door of Majosi-kazi.

He will rule Mkuku and Msukusuku. O one who comes in and goes out of sandy places, O bird of Mabizwa-sabele You are called by Shila of Mlambo, For him you asked cattle from Mhlangala, You are asked by Mawewe to ask cattle from Mzila of Soshan-gane. Dutchmen of Piet Retief, we do not approve of you, We blame you By stabbing the chief who was helping you. You cry at the grave of Piet Retief, You cry at the grave of John. O one alone without an advocate Although Ntungwa had one: Our chief who can stab, I never saw a man who could stab like him.

He stabs with an assegai until he tires. Mngqimila who bears a headdress of feathers, Mababala who arms on a bad day, Lomashakizela [one-who-goes-quickly], Lomashiya impi [one-who-leaves-his-army-behind], Bayete, Bayete. Clan praise names are used in formal address to clan members; a Tswana clan, for instance, has the praise name Mokzvena from kwena, a crocodile, the symbol of the clan , so an individual of the clan may be called by the general praise name of Mokzvena. In addition many individuals have their own laudatory epithets which refer to their character or their deeds; these epithets are usually bestowed on kings, leaders, and outstanding warriors.

Shaka, for instance, is said to have had several dozen. Some poems seem to make special use of these praise names, but in all of them the inclusion of these colourful epithets adds both grandeur and imagery to the verse. One of the Sotho praise verses about the class of cattle runs: The order is variable because the different stanzas are often linked not by specific meaning but by their general application to the hero of the poem; it is often as important to convey a general picture of his actions and character as to present his exploits in a narrative within a chronological framework.

The whole composition is extremely fluid, with given stanzas sometimes appearing, sometimes not, or some versions combining into one poem what others give as two or even three distinct praises. There seems to be no attempt at regular quantitative metre, for the stanzas are made up of irregular numbers of lines each with varying numbers of syllables, but the variety in syllable numbers by some considered a mark of richness in itself is bound together not only by the over-all pattern of this strong stress rhythm, but by repetition, parallelism, and other devices to be discussed below.

This has been studied in some detail in the case of Southern Sotho and especially in Zulu praise poetry Mofokeng The melodic aspect centres round a limited series of notes, enough to provide a contrast with the less formalized speech of ordinary prose. The ends of stanzas in particular are brought out by the lengthening and special pitch often a glide of the penultimate syllable.

This amounts to a kind of concluding formula, melodically marked, for each stanza a detailed description is given in Rycroft This is a praise poem of Moshesh:. Child of Mmamokhathsane, Thesele praise-name , Thesele, deep chasm, Cattle enter into it on their way,.

Also people enter into it on their way.

Oral Literature in Africa

You who give the BaKwena cattle to kill, Please give your aunt cattle to kill, Please give Mmasetenane cattle to kill, that she may carry the meat away, That she may say, These are the fat stomachs of cattle and of people. Alliteration and assonance are both appreciated and exploited by the poet. Long compounds abound, many of them in the form of the praise names mentioned already, and built up in various ways: In Southern Sotho praises, prefixes and concord also appear in characteristic ways, with certain rare omissions of prefixes, and with contractions.

These take various forms, and can be illustrated from the praise of Moshesh just quoted. In the third and fourth lines of the first stanza there is parallelism of meaning as well as, in part, of the words, with the second half of the line repeated identically the second time and in the first half a repetition of the same verb but with a different noun. Parallelism by which the same person is referred to by different names can be illustrated in the second and third lines in the second stanza, where the proper name Mmasete-nane refers to the same person mentioned earlier, with, again, identical repetition of other parts of the line.

Both these forms of parallelism are common elsewhere in praise poetry. There are also many other forms: He has taken out Ntsane of Basieeng He has taken out Ntsane from the cleft in the rock. Or the thought may be repeated in following lines even when the wording is different:. In Southern Sotho, for instance, the interjections hele expressing surprise , he of a wish , or pe a recognition of something overlooked are frequently used to convey emotion. Ideophones too can add to the descriptive quality with vivid conciseness: But it also arises from the great emphasis on allusion in this form of poetry, to historical events, places, and peoples.

As will be obvious from some of the examples quoted, the use of proper names is often extensive and at times stanzas consist mainly of a catalogue of names and places. By far the most common form is that of metaphor. The hero is associated with an animal, often the animal symbolic of his particular clan: The crocodile looked in the deep pool, It looked with blood-red eyes. Most frequent of all are comparisons to wild animals, to their bravery, wildness, and fearsome appearance.

Thus a hero may appear as a lion, a spotted hyena, a big vulture, or a buffalo. In some praises the hero speaks in his own voice and himself draws the parallel with an animal or a series of animals:. I am the young lion!

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The wild animal with pad-feet and black back! Whose father has given up hope from the beginning and whose mother has wept for a long time. I am the fine elephant of the Mathubapula, the finest elephant in the Matsaakgang. The rumbling which is like the roll of thunder, Ox belonging to the younger brother of the chief … I am the wind that raises the yellow dust, I am the rhinoceros from the Badimo cattle-post, Son of Mma-Maleka and nephew of Lesele Mofokeng The hail that came down in the middle of winter, And came down at emaKhophana.

The elephant that took fire in a pot-sherd, And went and set the kraals of men alight, And burned down those of all the tribe Ellenberger In Southern Sotho, for instance, there is sometimes a change in the course of a poem from class 1 concords the personal class to others, a device which both conveys a metaphor and leads to variety, a change from the monotony of class 1 throughout; Mofokeng Someone may be said to be.

The confusion and fierceness of the battle may be indicated by. The small herbs were frost-bitten in the middle of summer … The trees lost their leaves, The sparrows, the birds that lay eggs in the trees, forsook their nests Mofokeng He left grieved in his heart He left with the heart fighting with the lungs, Heaven quarrelling with the earth Mofokeng There is little stress on personal emotions, lyrical descriptions of nature, or straightforward narration.

Rather a series of pictures is conveyed to the listeners through a number of laconic and often rather staccato sentences, a grouping of ideas which may on different occasions come in a different order. In this way impressions are communicated with economy and vividness.

Nevertheless there are also vivid descriptions of the action itself in a way which fits the partly narrative aspect of praise poetry. Thus there are many examples of battle scenes in Southern Sotho praise poems. Here the sounds of the words, as well as the meaning, sometimes serve to heighten the effect:. Cannons came roaring, the veld resounding Sword came tinkling from all sides Kanono tsa tla li kutuma thota e luma.

Lisabole tsa tla li kelema kahohle Mofokeng The lion roared when it saw them near. It jumped suddenly, wanting to devour them They ran in all directions the people of Masopha, They ran in all directions and filled the village, They scattered like finches. He lay down, the grass became taller than him While it was finally dead quiet on the ground.

A foul smell came from the ridge, They no longer drink water the people of Rampai They are already drinking clods of human blood Mofokeng A few passages can be singled out as Dhlomo and Vilakazi have done, to represent a more lyrical approach to the beauty of nature. In a Zulu praise poem we have. The greenness which kisses that of a gall bladder! Butterfly of Phunga, tinted with circling spots, As if made by the twilight from the shadow of mountains, In the dusk of the evening, when the wizards are abroad.

Blue-throated lizard of the Lizards A blue chest or throat I have put on Brown I also have put on I, father-of-clinging of the hillside Lekgothoane The weather, for example, may be described not for its own sake but as a kind of formalized indication that some important event is about to be depicted or to show the determination and perseverance of the hero whatever the conditions. This comes out in the following Southern Sotho passage:. When he is going to act the mist thickens; The mist was covering the snow-clad mountains, Mountains from which the wind blows.

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There was a wind, there was snow, Likila, There was a wind, there was snow on the mountains, Some were attracted by pillows and remained Mofokeng It is to this panegyricizing end that both the general form and the detailed style of these poems all tend. The reciter pours forth the praises with few pauses for breath and at the top of his voice. Often there is growing excitement and dramatic gestures are made as the poem proceeds.

Grant describes a well-known Zulu praiser whom he heard in the s. As the poet recited, he worked himself up to a high pitch of fervour, his face was uplifted, and his voice became loud and strong. The shield and stick that he carried were, from time to time, suddenly raised and shaken, and his gestures became more frequent and dramatic, so that he would suddenly leap in the air or crouch with glaring eyes while praises poured from his lips—until at last he stopped exhausted The audience too play their part and often shout out encouragingly in support of what the praiser is saying or to cheer him on, adding to the emotional, even ecstatic mood that is induced by the delivery of these poems.

Even in the mood of excitement described by Grant there is a clear emphasis on the penultimate syllable of certain words, and, in a more marked way still, on the word just preceding a pause at a line- or stanza-end. Praise poems have no musical accompaniment, nor, apparently, are they actually sung.

Rather, they are semi-chanted, in the sense that a special stylized intonation is expected during the recitation. In Zulu the tonal and melodic movement is not a separate musical creation, but arises directly out of the words of a given line; and at the ends of lines and stanzas there are certain formalized cadences and glides, used as concluding formulas Rycroft However, with this complex and sophisticated form of poetry, unlike the simpler prose tales, the literary effect does not seem to have been dependent primarily on the skill of the reciter, but rather on the art of the poet as composer—in his use of the traditional forms described above, such as figurative expression, allusion, and the various stylistic devices which, quite apart from his delivery, served to heighten the effectiveness and power of the verse.

All men seem to have been expected to have a certain skill. Commoners composed their own praises or those of their families and their cattle while those of high birth or outstanding prowess had their praises composed by others, the chiefs by specialist bards. Though the older poems were preserved in this way, this is not to say that each recitation of a single poem was verbally identical.

The form of praise poetry makes it easy for poems to become telescoped without radically altering the sense; this is what seems to have happened with many of the earliest poems which tend to be considerably shorter than those about more recent chiefs. The recitation itself can also lead to additions by the performer, in the sense that a stanza or line may be introduced in that particular performance from his knowledge of the stock language and imagery.

Composition also of course takes place in the more familiar way with original creation by a single poet, notably by the professional bards of the chief. Among some peoples at least these original praise poems are the property of the composer in the sense that until his death no one may recite them in public Schapera During their period of seclusion at the age of fifteen or sixteen the boys were required to compose and recite poems in praise of themselves, of their chief, and of their parents, and they had to recite these praises publicly on their emergence from seclusion.

In this way the art of composition was insisted on as a necessary accomplishment for every man, involving some acquaintance at least with the various stylized forms of expression and historical allusions mentioned earlier. The most famous situation is after a battle when a warrior composes his own praises to celebrate his exploits or, if he is outstanding in bravery or birth, may have them composed for him by others. In this way every soldier had his own praises in addition, that is, to the praise names possessed in virtue of his membership of a particular clan which he either recited himself or, among the Zulu at least, had shouted out to him by his companions while he danced or prepared for war Tracey, b: War was the main occasion for such praises, but many other events may inspire them—exploits in hunting particularly, and the experience of going to work in European areas which, as Schapera notes, forms a new type of adventure to be celebrated among the Tswana Schapera The chanting of praise poetry takes its place among the singing of other songs, and it is frequent for someone to walk about reciting praises of himself or his leader, while those present become silent and attentive.

Weddings too are very widely regarded as another stock situation in which praises are not only possible but required, for the bride or bridegroom is lauded in praises which include references to the fame of their family and its ancestors Schapera The office was still recognized in the s Grant One of the traditional occasions for the recitation of praises of the chiefs was in the early morning when the praiser shouted them out.