What is the effect of orality on Song of Lawino by p'Bitek?How does the Song of Lawino show the stylistic hallmarks of oral-formulaic composition?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"Song of Lawino" shares with most oral epic the large scale form of an extended narrative poem. It is not an example of oral traditional epic, in that it was composed by an single individual about a subject contemporary to that writer rather than looking back to an heroic age. It does, however, borrow some of the stylistic surface feature of oral poetry. It is composed in a simple rhythmic structure appropriate for public performance, uses repeated epithets, invokes stereotypes, and is structured agglutinatively, creating effects not by subordination and analysis but by piling on layers of detail. Also like most oral poetry, it is close to the human life world and makes its point via striking example rather than abstraction.

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