Praise Poetry Outside Imerina

Though no other Malagasy group is as hierarchized as the Merina, praise poetry is found outside Imerina, too. In the south, the nineteenth-century Bara songwriter Rehoma, who had learned to read and learned music in Imerina, composed many song lyrics, which were orally preserved and performed at all Bara celebrations until the coming of the French. Here is one of his shorter praise songs, acknowledging the sovereignty of the Merina king Andrianampoinimerina over the Bara-Imamono.

There to the west is Poinimary
He has many subjects, and is not alone
All beyond Great Bara country
He governs them well, both the small and the great
(Michel, Moeurs et coutumes des bara, 171-74)
In Imerina, many of the traditional poems called hainteny include praise. As a Bara poem would express subservience, a Merina hainteny would portray reciprocal praise.
Rafaralahy said:
"Are you Andrianaivo of Namehana?
When he stands erect, he eats aviavy fruit,
when he bends down, he eats amontana fruit;
in the evening, he plays with limes,
and in the morning he makes lemons roll."
"Yes, I am he,"
he said in reply.
Then Andrianaivo said:
"Are you Rafaralahy, the son of those in Iarivo?
If he is poor, he places money in his mouth,
if he is rich, he is not sued for debt;
if he rides an animal, he is not slandered,
and if he swings on a palm, he is not reproached."
"Yes, I am he,"
he answered.
(Fox, Hainteny, 322-25)

Other Expansive Devices
Praise Poetry in Hierachized Society
Dispraise Poetry

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