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A poem by Elias Shitahun “they are not talking”

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This article describes the publication and translation (together with linguistic and philological notes) of a recently discovered work of Old Amharic poetry, possibly dating from the first half/middle of the seventeenth century. Märgämä kbr (“Condemnation of Glory”) is the title of the published piece, but its content differs from that of many other Old Amharic poetry with the same title (but not wholly independent from one another). The transience of the earthly world, the inevitability of death and God’s judgment, and the importance of leading a good life are all central topics in all Märgämä kbr poetry. Märgämä kbr is thus a separate genre of early Amharic literature, evolved most likely from oral literature and used to address the Christian community with the objective of religious education and admonition of laypeople. The number of known early Amharic texts and early Amharic literature has been rapidly increasing in recent years, but we are still gathering data, so any new text in an older variant of Amharic is vital and informative, and can lead to a revision of present beliefs.

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