As recently as 1980, when I was living in a small village in Greece, I heard the oral tradition at work. A great keening of women erupted in the house across the dirt road, informing me that my elderly neighbor, Erasmia, had died. They were singing the dirges called moirológia, “fate-songs,” spontaneous compositions based on traditional patterns, the 15-syllable line of Greek poetry, with heroic epithets about the dead. To my unaccustomed ears, such poetry sounded like the high-pitched murmur of bees.
Read more here.