Songs from Samoa

A selection of poems

Mitiana Arbon

Society and culture | Pacific

7 July 2014

These poems were selected from a suite of poems Mitiana Arbon wrote after a trip to Samoa in early 2012. The poems draw on Samoan culture and ideas from time spent with his mother’s family in the village of Tafua Tai on the island of Savai’i. Sione Monu’s illustrations were inspired by and created for these poems.



 Hark, hark, the cooing of the pigeons

Brings the cool down on their wings

As the bats return to their cavernous sleep;

The bells toll for the whisperings of lotu ole taeao,

With the children beginning their walk

Around the penumbra of the mountain.

They wait for the sun to bring its first beams Of colour into their lives,

Ua sanisani fa’amanuaso

(Singing like the birds dawn chorus)

Arise islands! The morning breeze is stirring,

Ready to bring you out and beyond

The confines of past shadows

Into the warmth of the day


Fruit of the Anatomy


I always knew

Fruit had that way of

…Jogging the memory?

But it wasn’t till one day,

My mother wisely pointed

“Don’t breadfruit look like breasts?”

And then,

The world was perceived anew.

I saw them as she did

Dangling seductively

On sagging branches,

Plump, and half covered by leaves,

For modesty of course,

On display as a numerous peepshow

For giggling children

                             I wonder what they perceived

                             Of bananas?

Aitu (1)


Beware the Aitu who dance

On ancient blood stained ground,

Or slide as eels through jungles,

Or rise out of the ground

As pale butterflies.

Beware of the demon fish

That inhabit the depths

Of still dark pools

Beware the demon women

Of beauty that haunts dreams

With turtle songs

And worship the sharks

Beware the Aitu

Who drum the night



(1) Aitu; evil spirits, demons which are, despite the predominance of Christianity, still prevalent in island superstition

About the illustrator:

Sione Monu is a first year visual arts student at the ANU School of Art, majoring in Painting. Sione is of Tongan decent and is a mentor with Pasifika Australia. In his spare time, he likes to bake cakes that he eats while watching fail clips on youtube.

Back to Top
Join the APP Society

Leave your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Press Ctrl+C to copy