A praise poem is a poem of tribute or gratitude. To praise means to express admiration, give homage, and/or to proclaim positive attributes. Praise poetry is part of the literary tradition of many cultures.

History of the Praise Poem

Praise poetry was popular in medieval literature and during the Renaissance, when it often expressed worship of or admiration for heroes, kings, or deities. Praise poetry has also long been one of the most widely used poetic forms in parts of Africa and continues to be a familiar literary form in various African cultures. 

For example, praise poems in Yorùbá are called Oriki, in Zulu lsibongo, and in Tswana Maboko. In African literary tradition, a praise poem refers to a series of laudatory epithets applied to gods, people, animals, places, etc. that capture the essence of being praised. These poems are often an important part of an oral tradition as professional bards, who may be both praise singers to a chief and court historians of their tribe, chant the poems. These poems offer imagery and storytelling related to a person and their history. 

Praise poems can also widely refer to any poem that expresses gratitude. Examples include Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day, Angelo Geter’s Praise, and W. S. Merwin’s Thanks.