From Madagascar, Four Poems on Impossible Love for Valentine's Day

Baobabs - Madagascar - Image used by permission

Baobab trees intertwined as if in love – Madagascar – Image used by permission

Valentine's Day could be the worst day of the year, or the best, according to the person and their circumstances.

In Madagascar, the lyrical theme of love is often tinged by feelings of pain and nostalgia. Here are four poems on the subject of impossible love, written by well-known Madagascan authors.

Voninkazo adaladala’ (Wildflower) by Georges Andriamantana (also known as Rado)    

Rado has published seven collections of poems on the subject of impossible love, among these are: Dinitra (1973), ny Voninkazo adaladala (2003), and ny fiteny roa (2008).

Georges Andriamanantena via his facebook tribute page with permission

Georges Andriamanantena, via his Facebook tribute page, with permission

One of his poems, “Fleur folle”, compares his attraction to a person whom he cannot have, to a flower which grows in the desert:

Voninkazo adaladala, Voninkazo tsy misaina, Fa maniry samirery, Eny an-tany karankaina,  Ny manodidina rehetra, Efa ringitra avokoa, Efa tapitra matory, Izy irery no mifoha, Ity foko koa adala, Tsy mba manadino e ! Ny rehetra raha mangina, Izaho mbola mino e ! Mbola tena mahatsiaro, Ilay fitiavako taloha, Mbola velona ao am-poko, Tsy mitsahatra mamoy Voninkazo, adaladala e !

Wildflower, carefree flower, Which keeps growing on fallow land. Everywhere, all that surrounds now is desolation, and all lies dormant. And alone, she alone remains awake. And still exists somewhere. My whole heart has been driven wild as well, and refuses to forget. Silence remains around the one whom I love, but I continue to believe. I keep this in memory, and I will always remember my lost love, in whom I have always believed. This love is still going strong, and keeps me awake at night.

The poem has been set to music by singer Erick Manana :

Similarly, another lesser-known text by Rado also deals with the silent pain of a wounded heart. Here is his poem, “Ho any ianao” (“You Will Go to See Her”), from which an extract reads:

Ho any ianao,kanefa….
Aza ataonao fantany izao fahoriako izao
Fa aoka hiafina aminy
Ny ketoky ny jaly
Nanempaka ny aiko,tanatin'ny longoa
Izay namandrihany ahy…
Ny dinitry ny foko manorika ahy mangina,
Fa sempo-tsasak'alina
Misaina ity anjarako,
Aza ataonao fantany!
Eny e ! Ampy izay.Tongava soa aman-tsara !
Dia akatony mora
Io varavarako io
Fa hitomany aho…
Rado, janoary 1966

You will go to see her, but …
Don't tell her about my suffering,
Leave her unaware of the biting pain
Which is tearing me apart.
In the net in which she trapped me,
My bleeding heart is choking me in the silence
Of the middle of the night
When I contemplate my fate.
Don't let her know!
That's my message, don't forget that.
And, goodbye!
But before leaving,
That hand of yours, let it not touch anything,
before holding hands with her…
Yes, that's all. Have a good trip.
And as you go, please close the door
On my tears.
Rado, January 1966.

‘Tiako hianao’ (I love you), a Hain-teny or traditional Madagascan verse by author unknown

Tiako hianao

Ary tianao tahaka ny inona ?

Tiako tahaka ny vola hianao

Izany tsy tianao aho

Fa raha noana hianao atakalonao hanina.

Tiako tahaka ny varavarana hianao.

Izany tsy tianao aho.

Tiana ihany ka atositosika.

Tiako tahaka ny lambamena hianao.

Izany tsy tianao aho.
Fa efa maty vao mihaona.

I love you.

— Oh, so how much do you love me ?

— I love you as much as I love money.

— But, you don't really love me:

Because if you were hungry, you would trade me for something to eat.

— I love you as much as I love that door.

— No, you don't really love me:

Although we may like the door, we're always pushing it away.

— I love you as much as I love the sacred burial shroud.

— Well then, you don't really love me:

Because we shall never meet except in the grave.

‘Tsiky Foana’ (Keep smiling) by Hanitr’ Ony

Fanambinana no antsoiny
Fiherenana ho ambony
Famafàna lonilony
Faneken-tsy ho resy intsony
N'inon'inona ampitsoiny
Andramo kely anie ‘zany, hono,
Tsiky foana foana alohany
Dia lefahany ny fony…


He asks for good luck
And stands up again, to rise higher.
To set aside the acrimony
And to not accept defeat
Whatever the future may hold.
And so he tries
To put the smile back on his face
And to be the master of his own heart.


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