5 ways English Poems and Congolese Songs Reflect Each Other


This work is entitled as “English Poetry and Congolese Music/Song: A contrastive study.” When we have the word contrastive in mind, we find ourselves in the systematic study of a pair of (SLA) in the 1960s and early 1970s, as a method of explaining why some features of aSECTION 1: SIMILARITIES BETWEEN POETRY AND SONGS

1. Music and poetry have a lot in common when they are taken in strucure

The simplest and most obvious aspect of the relationship

between poetry and songwriting is the way that both rely on rhythm, meter, rhyme, stress patterns, alliteration, and assonance to convey meaning.

Rhythm: Variation of strong and weak elements of sounds in speeches and music.

Meter: The measure in verse and musical composition.

Rhyme: A sameness of sound of parts of some words.

Stress patterns: The stress pattern of a word is the way all the syllables are stressed in it. There can be main and secondary stress, or unstressed sounds

Alliteration: It occurs when two or more words are linked that share the same first consonant sound

Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in words that are close together in a sentence or verse.

Let’s examinates these elements from some lines of MPR lyrics of NINI


Est-ce que déluge oyo eloba sese seko

Naza lisusu na force yako ko voter te

Mpo élection ou pas toza kaka ndenge moko

Tolata nzala lokola identi

Insécurité eza partout na ba ci

To bosana goût ya petit déjeuner

Député mvwama na parlement azo sagaci

When we go through in having a glance of these lines from NINI TOSALI TE, we find ourselves that the song has rhythm, meters, rhyme and stress patterns as the popular poem entitled “My Bonnie lies over the ocean”:

My Bonnie lies over the ocean, My Bonnie lies over the sea.

My Bonnie lies over the ocean.

So bring back my Bonnie to me.

As we previously talk about assonance and alliteration, let us

notice them in BILL CLITON’s MABOMA lines as he has dealt w ith them:

Bato ya ma boma baza koboma bato ya Boma

Ba soso basosoli

Mabata babatami

Basili basiliki

When we go through LEXUS’s NZAMBE TALA CAS NA NGA,

we find ourselves in the similar cases like MABOMA song:

Nzambe tala nano cas na nga

Tala nano Kananga

Bakangi nga neti bakana nga kala

The letter a is repeated in different intonation changes the

word and sounds like assonance. This is also a case found in the English Poetry.

For instance, the « Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening », by Robert Frost:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

2. Both music and poetry are forms of expression

They are both creative acts with the power to change lives. Both music and poetry are often used as an outlet for emotions, providing solace in times of trouble or joy. People can also gain a better understanding of themselves through poetry, while music enables listeners to reveal their deepest feelings through lyrics or tone of voice.

Let’s see some Congolese songs in which they have expressed

their emotions about the country due to the realities we are facing in the life, the song is NINI TOSALI TE of MPR music which is translated as WHAT HAVE WE NOT DONE, let’s take these lines from the song:

61ans ya indépendance mais toza coincé kaka Est-ce que déluge oyo elobaki Seseseko?

Naza lisusu na force yako voter te

Po élection ou pas toza kaka ndenge moko

Tolata nzala lokola identités

Insécurité eza partout na ba cités

Tobosana goût ya petit déjeuner

Député mvwama na parlement, sagacité

Vie ya congolais eza combat ya Ali na Foreman Pays riche eza kaka étiquettes ba collé ngaï Ba prières ya ndenge nini tosali te?

Est-ce que Nzambe azomona ndenge kondima etelengani?

Homme politique aza ata na visions te

Ba promesses ya mayi soki azwi vie nayo, akeyi

Mayi ya miso ekoma mode de vie ya ba ndeko

Yango koseka na biso e perdre goût, eh

Ba kelasi pe totangi yaya

Jeûne et prière pe tosali yaya

Ba liens ya famille pe tokati yaya

Il faut ko lutter esi to lutter yayaaa Nini tosali te?

Nini tosali te eeehh?

Nini tosali te eehh?

(Hein) Nini to sali te?


This song can be translated as follows:

Sixty-one year of independence, but we’re still lagging behind Is it an eternal flood?

I’m not very enthusiastic anymore when it comes to going

To vote elections or not, it’s the same

Starvation sticks to us like second nature

And security reigns supreme in all our cities

As we languish in misery (…)

MPs in parliament spend most of their time feasting

The life of the Congolese is harsh, comparable to the fight of Ali and Foreman

They say we are a rich country, it is due to anything

What prayers have we not said and yet God decides to ignore us?

Most politicians are visionless

They promise us water, but as soon as they have a little wine, they get the

hell out of it

They promise you Mounts and Wonders (…) and yet do not hesitate to turn


The tears of regret guess the reflection of our way of life (…)

And throughout the time our smile masks a deep discomfort Study, we did

Fasts and prayers! We did it

Breaking down family ties, we did Struggle and persevere, we did But what haven’t we done?

But what haven’t we done?

In this song, the Composers show the miseries Congolese are

running through as they have done all they could but nothing is going good.

When we come closer, we can contrast this poem to The Bad Politicians by ABDULLAHI INUWA and see how they ressemble in the themes, so theme is a way of expressing what they is seen actually.

Dont be a greedy fly that follow the corpse to grave,

They give you money for your vote, do not favour them,

They will loot our treasuries empty like an army worm.

They hold the masses hostage to their selfish advantage.

Sending their children to schools in UK, Leaving masses with the bad education.

Such politicians are all foxes and wolves

They disguise as sheep, they are hyenas.

During campaign they are all saints As they win the election they will dump us.

Can you just vote them out and mend future ?

The bad politicians will not be ruling us.

Our voter’s cards are machine guns, if we use them-

We can change them all, as violence is not an option.

People are you ready for mending future ?

Try to get your voter’s cards now and devour thieves ?

3. Both music and poetry rely on a combination of sound and silence

Whether it is the silences in between musical notes, their

timing or the spaces in between words when reciting a poem, silence is an important part of both art forms. Even in bars where poets perform, there are usually long pauses after every sentence. Poetry also uses words that have no sound, such as “shhh!”

4. There are many different types of music and poetry

For example, a person might reference rap music or Shakespearean sonnets when talking about the relationship between music and poetry. These terms refer to different genres within each art form. Rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, blues, Rumba and hip hop are some of the different musical genres. Free verse, haiku, and sonnets with rhyme are popular types of poetry.

5. Music and poetry share similar themes such as love, loss, and life

These themes are so common in both art forms that they have

almost become clichés. Music and poetry can be used to express happiness, sadness, anger or any other emotion, as well as various situations such as heartache or recovery from a relationship breakup.

For instance, FALLY’s MARIA PM expresses “Love” and BILIA BEL’s NAIROBI expresses “sadness”, here down are the lyrics:


Sirène ya police ekumbaka na prison

Ya corbillard ekokumba nga na lilita

Épargner nga, zuwa esalaka nga neti drogué

Ba lèvres na yo elakaki matama na nga ah

En aucun jour ba larmes eko visiter yango

Présence na yo béton armé ya vie na ngai

Esengo elekaka kasi souci ya aimer ekoleka té

Marianne soki otiki ngai eh chagrin malheur

Yo oko banza moto alali nzoka aweï na yé

Maria Mandala soki otiki ngai eh

Chagrin malheur

Yo oko banza moto alali nzoka aweï na yé



1) I heard that you’ve been treated badly.

Come closer,

in my heart, I am still yours.


Na yoki Nzambe motindo ya mpasi, ba nyokoli yo.

Yaka pembeni nazali se wayo ya motema.

English: 2) We grew up together, we are used to each other, Dunia.

We started our friendship since childhood, under the eyes of mother.


To vandi bo mwana, to meseni nga nayo, Dunia.

To bandi bo mwana, ki moninga na miso ya mama.


It is inappropriate for me to hear that you are suffering in my absence.

I will come to Kenya to get you and bring you back to Kinshasa.


Ezali mabe nayoka okomi na pasi naza te.

Na koya na Kenya na ya ko zwa yo tozonga

na Kinshasa.


Big sister Elodie, twin sister, why have you lowered your standard?

Big sister Elodie, tween sister, why have you lowered your standard?


4) Ya Elodie, mapasa, lokumu ya famille o ti wapi?

Ya Elodie, mapasa, lokumu ya famille o ti wapi?


Friendship bonds from infancy is sometimes stronger than bonds between relatives.

We’ve known each other since infancy.

We’ve been all over Kenya together.


5) Ki kamarade ya bo mwana

Tango mosusu elekaka bondeko.

To yebani bo mwana.

To tamboli Kenya mobimba ngai na yo.


We are known in Nairobi, Mombasa ah, Nakuru, Kisumu

Harambee eh, Harambee eh, Harambee eh,

Harambee, Nyayo


Nairobi, Mombasa ah, Nakuru , Kisumu toyebani

Harambee eh, Harambee eh, Harambee eh, Harambee, Nyayo English:

(Repeat x7)

I am on my way to Nairobi, to help Duni. I am on my way to Nairobi; I will bring Duni back.


(Repeat x7)

Nakei Nairobi, po na salisa Duni

Nakei Nairobi;

Na ko zonga na Duni

While coming closer, these can be contrasted with these English poems:

« Risk », by Anaïs Nin

And then the day came,

When the risk

To remain tight

In a bud

Was more painful

Than the risk

It took

To blossom.

A single sentence broken up into 8 small lines, Anaïs Nin’s “Risk” uses a flower as a metaphor, to remind us that there will come a day when the pain of complacency will exceed the pain of actually daring to make a change. The poem serves as an understated call to action — make the change now, no matter how scary.

« Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening », by Robert Frost

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

Reading out like a heartbeat, Frost’s most famous work draws

from nature to explore the human conflict of being torn between life’s beauty and its responsibilities. With the repetition of ‘and miles to go before I sleep’ closing out the poem, Frost perfectly captures the feeling of a moment we’ve all experienced — one where we’re weary of life and its challenges.

“Hope is the thing with feathers », by Emily Dickinson

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea – Yet – never – in Extremity, It asked a crumb – of me.

The evocative extended metaphor at the heart of this work has

helped to cement « Hope is a thing with feathers » as perhaps the best-loved of Dickinson’s 1,800 poems. In the last stanza, Dickinson beautifully captures the ever-giving, selfless nature of hope⁠ — the bird of hope sings in the harshest, most adverse times in our lives, never asking for anything in return.

6. Both music and poetry use patterns of words

A rhyme scheme is the pattern followed by words in a poem,

while meter defines the number of syllables in each line of verse. Poems also use different rhetorical devices to convey their meaning through sound and rhythm like alliteration (repetition of initial sounds), assonance (vowel sounds) or consonance (consonant sounds) as previously described.

7. They both use rhythm to create emotion

The rhythm of music is created by the combination of different

instruments or notes, while poetry has its own patterns to define the way words are said aloud. Poetry can convey meaning through poetic devices like assonance, alliteration and repetition in its writing style.

8. Poetry can be found in song lyrics while music can be found in poems

Songwriters often use poetic devices in their lyrics and

combine them with music. Some bands write songs that tell a story or express an emotion like pain, loss or anger, which is similar to how poets can use words to paint a vivid picture of reality through creative expression.

9. Both music and poetry are timeless

They have the power to connect people over time, making

them relevant even when culture and context changes. Despite the wide variety of music and poetry forms, their underlying similarities have allowed their meaning to remain unchanged throughout history.

10. Music can motivate people to create poetry while poetry can inspire musicians

This is because music and poetry both provide a way to

understand oneself and the world around them. When people are overwhelmed with strong emotions, either art form can help them express themselves abstractly. This is why many musicians write songs about their own life events while poets frequently reference themes such as love and loss in their work.


Music and poetry have their own unique qualities, but they

also share a number of similarities. Both have been around for thousands of years, providing a means to express emotions as well as other abstract ideas, such as love and loss. Although there are many different types of music and poetry, the relationship between these art forms remains unchanged since they both provide a way to express oneself.


Pour citer ce mémoire (mémoire de master, thèse, PFE,...) :
📌 La première page du mémoire (avec le fichier pdf) - Thème 📜:
English poetry and Lingala songs: a contrastive study
Université 🏫: Institut supérieur pédagogique de Kisangani ISP - Section: Lettres et sciences humaines
Auteur·trice·s 🎓:
LOBOLO Amuri Edouard

LOBOLO Amuri Edouard
Année de soutenance 📅: Département : Anglais - Mémoire en anglais
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