Celebrating World Poetry Day in remembrance of Queen Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu Tupou III

Celebrating World Poetry Day in remembrance of the late Tongan Queen Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu Tupou III (13 March 1900 -16 December 1965). According to Wood-Ellen (1999), Queen Sālote’s reputation as a universally beloved monarch of her time has become an icon for many people of today, in particular, the Tongan people.  She gave her people a strong sense of their identity and attributed her success as a ruler to hard work and a strong character, and observers referred to her intelligence, authority, and knowledge of her people. She is also a renowned Tongan Poet and song writer.

The objective that is ever before me and which inspires all my thoughts is to unify and consolidate at this time the Kingdom of Tonga, that we may really achieve the reputation that is credited to us in the world outside:  There is not in the world a little Kingdom like Tonga, peaceful, contented and happy.”  Queen Sālote, 15 June 1937

Queen Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu Tupou III’s love for her consort Viliami Tungī Mailefihi had been expressed in joyous love songs during his lifetime (1 November 1887 — 20 July 1941). In celebrating 2012’s World Poetry Day, I am honoured to share this poetry piece and song written by Queen Sālote in the passing of her consort Viliami Tungī Mailefihi.


1.  Gone is that dear dawn

To which, as wings, clung my remembrances

Of the orchid, the bloom of the dew,

(Which I) Adorn till the end of time

2.  This body has become a thing of no worth

Overcome by all-conquering love

For your image of precious stones

I will string them for my garland

3.  The shade of evening beckons

To which I direct my lamentations

If the magnitude were only known

Of the love (I bear) for the bouquet of langakali

Chorus:  Alas that this body, sweet enticement to gossip

Is only poison to your mission

Yet do you not see, Gladiola

This love of mine may never end. [MT]

In the Tongan language:

1.  Si’i hengihengi e kuo ‘alu

Kapakau ai si’ete manatu

Ki he ‘oketi fisi e hahau

Tauleva ki he pa’anga ngalu

2.  ‘Anga’anga ni kuo me’a noa

Ka falala he funga hau’alofa

Ki ho ‘imisi maka koloa

Tui fakaholo ko hoto kahoa

3.  Ta’alo e malu ‘i he efiafi

Pea te hahanu launoa ki ai

Ke ‘iloa mai ‘ene tupulaki

‘A e ‘ofa he poukei langakali

Tau:  Sino ni ‘a pe ka melie lau

Pea kona ai ki ha’o fekau

Ka neongo ia ‘e Kalatiola

Na’a kuo ta’engata ha’ata ni ‘ofa


Wood-Ellen, E. (1999).  Queen Sālote of Tonga:  The Story of an Era 1900-1965. Auckland University Press.

Photo credit:

State Library of Victoria


  1. Sis, this is an awesome post to celebrate World Poetry Day. I am proud of you and the great posts on this blog. Look at the number of visits since January 7th! This is your element and your humility continues to shine through and through. Don’t stop being YOU! Love from me & Bubba xx

    1. Thank you lil’ sis for your love and support. It’s heartfelt and I truly appreciate it. It’s always great to have you visit my blog. 🙂
      Love you & Bubba xox

  2. Maryanne I am so glad I stumbled across your blog. This is exactly what I have been looking for…collections of poems and writings from a fellow Tongan and other gifted Polynesians. Being away from NZ I always crave anything ‘island’ and recently I have been looking for Tongan poems and writings and here I am…thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thank you so much taking the time to read through my blog. Your comment is truly appreciated. I hope that you continue to visit and share your thoughts on my different posts.
      ‘Ofa atu xox

  3. Not sure where you live but here, National Poetry month begins April 1st. It’s a great thing to celebrate in the way that you have.

    1. Hi Tammy,
      Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it. Where do you live? Wow, April 1st is only around the corner. I was born and raised in New Zealand but I am of Tongan ethnicity. In New Zealand, our National Poetry day is celebrated on July 22nd. However, this post was to mark World Poetry day which is celebrated on March 21st of each year. This was first established in 1999 by UNESCO. I thought it would be a great idea to share poetry from the late Queen Salote given that she was born, raised and reigned in Tonga (the land of my family & ancestors). It is also good to hear from you. Thank you once again for stopping by. Enjoy the remainder of your week.
      God bless xox

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