14 Famous Yoruba Poems You Should Check Out.

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There are numerous poems in Yoruba language that have been written by poets, writers and singers in Yoruba culture in the past. Many of these poems were passed down to the younger generation through oral means. In this article, we will look at a good number of Yoruba poems that you should know whether as a Yoruba researcher, Yoruba teacher, Yoruba student, or just a Yoruba language enthusiast. If you’re a teacher looking for Yoruba poems to teach primary school students, these poems are also incredibly useful. I also added the tonal marks heavily throughout to guide you with pronunciation of the Yoruba words. Let’s first define what a poem is.

A poem is a type of writing within which feelings and ideas are expressed and particular attention is paid to diction, rhyming and figures of speech. English poems are incredibly popular. Poems written in English language since the 1500s are still very popular today. Why can’t the same be said of Yoruba poems? During my research, there were actually Yoruba poets in the late 1800s who wrote Yoruba poems. And I added some of those poems in this article. So, let’s start.

1. Ikini by Denrele Adetimikan Obasa (1879-1945)

This is not the full poem. You might have to visit a good bookshop for the book itself by Poet D. A. Obasa.

Ago o! Ago o!! Ago o!!!
Onílé mo kago,
Kí n tó wọlé
Ewúrẹ́ wọlé ko kago
Ni wọn ba mu un so;

Àgùtàn wọlé kò kago,
Ni wọn ba mu un so,

Àgbà t’o wọlé ti kò kago
Ó di mimu so!

Onílé ní: ‘Wọ ta ha nu-un

Oibo ní, ‘Who is that?’
Èkó ni, ‘Iwọ ta ni yẹn?’

‘Iwọ ọmọ lesi yẹn wa?’
Ẹ̀gbá ní, ‘Le e iyen?’

‘Iwo ọmọ lesi yen wa?
Ẹ̀gbá ni, ‘Le e iyen?’

Ìjẹ̀bú ní, ‘Les’oun wa?’

Ìjèṣà ni, ‘Iwọ yesi?’

Ifẹ̀ ní, ‘Iwo yesi re ni?’
Ọ̀yọ́ ní, ‘Iwọ ta’a ni i ni?’

Ègùn ní, ‘Memuwe?’
Hausa ní, ‘Wo ni ni?’

Ìbàdàn ni, ‘Iwo ta nu-un?’

Oru kò m’olowo
Lo da fun ‘Wo ta ha nu-un?’

Mo ni, ‘Bi e ko ri mi,
Ẹ ko mo’ni?

(There are 70 other lines in the poem).

Read more of the poem here.

2. Alaseju – By D. A. Obasa

Alaseja! Alasesa!

Alaseja, Alasete;

Alaseja, Alasebo

Alaseja, pere nii te!

Esuru s’aseju,

O te lowo oniyan!

‘Un o gbe e rebete

Nii fi i kan pon-un

Alawose Imole, a b’ori kenke!

A-se-ko-su-ni, Imale Adodo –

O ni, ‘Bi won ko dunbu omi,
Oun ko nii mu!
Bi won ko dunbu eja
Oun ko nii je!
A-se-ko-su-ni, omo.

O fo kengbe tan,
O r’Aafin re i gb’onise wa!
Bẹẹ, ẹgbẹrun l’Emese n gba,
N’ijo áláyé ti d’ayé!
Owo kengbe nko?

Kékeré wọn
Ko ju’gbiwo lo;
Bó ba sàn diẹ,
A d’oroodunrun;
Eyi t’o tobi ninu won,

Nii pe’rinwo;
Agbefeya, Gberumi,

Àwọn nii to eedegbeta;
Alaṣejù n r’oko ẹ̀tẹ́!
Bọ̀rọ̀kínní àṣejù,

Ọkọ-olówó
Nii m’omo lo.

(There are more lines to this poem, check the full poem here)
The first 2 Yoruba poems above are from the same author / poet who is the Late D. A. Obasa. To read the complete poem, click below.

Click here.

3. Iṣẹ́ l’oògùn ìṣẹ́ by Late Joseph F. Ọdúnjọ (A common Yoruba poem for Primary schools)

Iṣẹ́ l’oògùn ìṣẹ́,

Múra s’íṣẹ́ ọrẹ mi,

Iṣẹ́ la fí n d’ẹni gíga

Bí a kò bá lówó lọwọ

Bi a ko ba reni fehin ti

Bi ole la ri

Bi a ko ba reni gbekele,

A te’ra mo se ni.

Iya re le lowo lowo
Baba re le lesin lekan
Ti o ba gbojule won
O te tan ni mo so fun o

Apa lara igupa ni ye kan
B’aiye ba fe o loni
Ti o ba lowo lowo, won a tun fe o lola
Abi ko wa nipo atata
Aiye a ye o si terin terin
Je ki o deni ti ra ngo
Ko ri bi won ti nyin mu si o

Iya mbe fomo ti ko gbon
Ekun mbe fomo ti nsare kiri
Mafowuro sere ore mi
Mura sise ojo nlo.

4. Ise agbe (A common Yoruba poem for Primary schools)

Iṣẹ́ àgbẹ, ni’ṣẹ ilẹ̀ wa,
Ẹni kò s’ise, a ma jale
Iwe kiko, laisi oko ati ada,
Ko yi pe o
Ko yi pe o.

5. Bata re a dun kokoka (A common Yoruba poem for Primary schools)

Bata re a dun ko ko ka (2x)
Bata re a wo serere nile
Bo o ba kawe re
Bata re a wo serere nile.

6. Omo rere (A very short Yoruba poem)

Omo rere lemi o yan o
Maa j’omoluabi to n munu awon obi re dun
Omo rere lemi o yan o.

7. Ole alapa ma sise

Ole alapa ma sise
Ole faso iya bora sun
Ole sun, sun ko ma ji mo
E wa wo aye ole o lode

Ole fai roko fai kobe
O n reti owo
Lai dele f’oka t’eebu bo’le
O n rubo ojo
Lai se fakafiki fikifaka
Lori iro, o o ba nibe o, ofo lo maa ka
Tori ohun ta a ba gbin laye
Oun la maa ka.

8. Omo alaigboran

Awon omo alaigboran po nile iwe
Won ko f’eti sile sohun t’oluko ko won
B’oluko won ba n soro won a maa sere
Won a je je je, won a gb’odo roboto
Ere, ere ka sa maa rerin-in sa a
Ise, ise iyen kii se tiwon
Dodo ati iresi ko gbodo koja
Won a je je je, won a gbodo roboto

9. Ji ko rorin – A Yoruba poem on Hygiene.

Ji ko rorin
We ki o mo
Ge eekanna re
Fo aso re
Jeun to dara lasiko
Ma jeun ju
So o gbo?

Imototo lo le segun arun gbogbo (2x)
Imototo ile
Imototo ara
Imototo ounje
Atayika eni
Imototo lo le segun arun gbogbo.

Eyin omode
Mo fe ko o yin lekoo kan
Ti e ba dele e foso yin
Ke we ke tun rorin
Ti e ba dele e kawe
Ke e ran obi yin lowo

10. Tisa jowo.

Tisa jowo mo fe lo wa nnkan je
Omo oniresi ti de, obe re si n ta sansan
Aduke, Alake, omo oniresi ti de
O n soju rederede, e feran sobe wa

11. L’abe igi orombo.

L’abe igi orombo
Ibe la gbe n sere wa
Inu wa dun
Ara wa ya
L’abe igi orombo.

12. A ki yin oluko wa.

A ki yin oluko wa
Akoko to lati lo
Obi wa n duro de wa
A fe lo’le
O digbose la ki yin
K’Olorun so gbogbo wa
Ka tun pade pelayo
L’owuro ola.

13. Eni bi Eni.

Eni bi eni
Eji bi eji
Eta n tagba
Erin woroko
Arun la a kawo
Efa ni tele
Eje bi eje
Olugbon soro o kije
Ejo bi ejo
Jijo la a jo eni to bini
Esan bi esan

14. Obo n gb’obo bogbe.

Obo n gb’obo bogbe
Okiti obo bobo lenu
Bo o ba tete gb’obo bogbe
Obo o gbe o bogbe.

Conclusively, these 14 famous Yoruba poems are quite unique to the culture. Most of them have been turned to songs. Some are not so popular but are absolutely beautiful too. All of them can be taught to students whether in primary schools, secondary or nursery schools.

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Bei Weiwei

• Yorùbá, INTJ Female • I also love Chinese culture. 我爱中国! • I'm a STOIC. • I founded and own this Yoruba blog. • Ìfẹ́ àti imọ́lẹ̀. Ire o!