Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/357

This page has been validated.




makers are engaged to celebrate it and rewarded, or the occasion produces a song for which, in the Banks' Islands at any rate, a complimentary present is made. In Florida a song is linge; a song about some one, in honour of him, is his song, na lingena; in the Banks' Islands a song is as, and is called the song of the person celebrated, na asina; to compose a song in Florida is to fit it, kanggea na linge, in Mota it is to measure it, towo as. New words are thus fitted to old tunes, but new tunes are invented, as well as old ones modified. In the Banks' Islands a song has certain regular successive parts with distinctive names, each introduced by a vocalic prelude which marks the qau-as, the knee, or turn, of the song. Some songs are led off by a single voice, we put, some begin with many voices together, we saru; sometimes the party of singers is divided, some start the song, we tiu, the rest follow with an answering part, we sarav goro. Songs are no doubt often indecent and obscene, but there are many which are perfectly harmless, some pretty in tune and words, some in which poetry may be recognized, though much is conventional. The following song is surely not devoid of poetry, and might be so translated as to give a very favourable impression of native powers. It was composed at Lakona, in Santa Maria, in honour of Maros in his absence at sea, whose song it therefore is, and who speaks in the exordium. 'Leale! ale! I am an eagle, I have soared to the furthest dim horizon. I am an eagle, I have flown and lighted at Mota. I have sailed with whirring noise round the mountain. I have gone down island after island in the West to the base of heaven. I have sailed, I have seen the lands. I have sailed in circles, I have been strongly set. An ill wind has drifted me away, has drawn me away from you two. How shall I make my way round to you two? The sounding sea stretches empty to keep me away from you. You, Mother, you are crying for me, how shall I see your face? You, Father, are crying for me, how shall I see your face? I only long for you, and weep; it is irksome to me; I go about as an orphan, I alone, and who is my companion?