Unwritten Literature of Hawaii - The Sacred Songs of the Hula
by Nathaniel Bright Emerson
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[Footnote 64: A'a-lii. A deep-rooted tree, sacred to Laka or to Kapo.]

[Footnote 65: Hoo-ulu. Literally to make grow; secondarily, to inspire, to prosper, to bring good luck. This is the meaning most in mind in modern times, since the hula has become a commercial venture.]

[Footnote 66: Ki-ele. A flowering plant native to the Hawaiian woods, also cultivated, sacred to Laka, and perhaps to Kapo. The leaves are said to be pointed and curved like the beak of the bird i-iwi, and the flower has the gorgeous yellow-red color of that bird.]

[Footnote 67: It has been proposed to amend this verse by substituting akua, for ku'i, thus making the idea the gods of the hula.]

[Footnote 68: Hai-ka-malama. An epithet applied to Laka.]

[Footnote 69: Kina'u. Said to mean Hiiaka, the sister of Pele.]

[Footnote 70: Kapo ula. Red, ula, was the favorite color of Kapo. The kahuna anaana, high priests of sorcery, of the black art, and of murder, to whom Kapo was at times procuress, made themselves known as such by the display of a red flag and the wearing of a red malo.]


Altar-Prayer (to Laka)

Thou art Laka, God of the deep-rooted a'a-lii. O Laka from the mountains, O Laka from the ocean! [Page 43] 5 Let Lono bless the service, Shutting the mouth of the dog, That breaks the charm with his barking. Bring the i-e that grows in the wilds, The maile that twines in the thicket, 10 Red-beaked kiele, leaf of the goddess, The joyous pulse of the dance In honor of Ha'i-ka-malama, Friend of Kina'u, Red-robed friend of Kina'u. 15 Thou art Laka, God of this altar here. Return, return and reside at your altar! Bring it good luck!

A single prayer may not suffice as the offering at Laka's altar. His repertory is full; the visitor begins anew, this time on a different tack:

Pule Kuahu (no Laka)

Eia ke kuko, ka li'a; I ka manawa he hiamoe ko'u, Hoala ana oe, O oe o Halau-lani, 5 O Hoa-lani, O Puoho-lani, Me he manu e hea ana i ka maha lehua Ku moho kiekie la i-uka. I-uka ho'i au me Laka 10 A Lea,[71] a Wahie-loa,[72], i ka nahelehele; He hoa kaana ia no'u, No kela kuahiwi, kualono hoi. E Laka, e Laka, e! B maliu mai! 15 A maliu mai oe pono au, A a'e mai oe pono au!


Altar-Prayer (to Laka)

This my wish, my burning desire, That in the season of slumber Thy spirit my soul may inspire, Altar-dweller, 5 Heaven-guest, Soul-awakener, Bird from covert calling, Where forest champions stand. There roamed I too with Laka, [Page 44] 10 Of Lea and Loa a wilderness-child; On ridge, in forest boon companion she To the heart that throbbed in me. O Laka, O Laka, Hark to my call! 15 You approach, it is well; You possess me, I am blest!

[Footnote 71: Lea. The same as Laia, or probably Haumea.]

[Footnote 72: Wahie loa. This must be a mistake. Laka the son of Wahie-loa was a great voyager. His canoe (kau-meli-eli) was built for him by the gods. In it he sailed to the South to rescue his father's bones from the witch who had murdered him. This Laka had his home at Kipahulu, Maui, and is not to be confounded with Laka, goddess of the hula.]

In the translation of this pule the author has found it necessary to depart from the verse arrangement that obtains in the Hawaiian text.

The religious services of the halau, though inspired by one motive, were not tied to a single ritual or to one set of prayers. Prayer marked the beginning and the ending of every play—that is, of every dance—and of every important event in the programme of the halau; but there were many prayers from which the priest might select. After the prayer specially addressed to Laka the visitor might use a petition of more general scope. Such is 'the one now to be given:

He Pule Kuahu (ia Kane ame Kapo); a he Pule Hoolei

Kane, hikii a'e, he malama [73] la luna; Ha'aha'a, he malama ia lalo; Oni-oni,[74] he malama ia ka'u; He wahine [75] lei, malama ia Kapo; 5 E Kapo nui, hala-hala [76] a i'a; E Kapo nui, hala-hala [77] a mea, Ka alihl [78] luna, ka alihi lalo; E ka poha-ku.[79] Noho ana Kapo i ka ulu wehi-wehi; 10 Ku ana i Moo-helaia,[80] Ka ohi'a-Ku iluna o Mauna-loa. Aloha mai Kaulana-a-ula [81] ia'u; Eia ka ula la, he ula leo,[82] He uku, he mohai, he alana, [Page 45] 15 He kanaenae na'u ia oe, e Kapo ku-lani. E moe hauna-ike, e hea au, e o mai oe. Ata la na Iehua o Kaana,[83] Ke kui ia mai la e na wahlne a lawa I lei no Kapo— 20 O Kapo, alii nui no ia moku, Ki'e-ki'e, ha'a-ha'a; Ka la o ka ike e ike aku ai: He ike kumu, he ike lono; He ike pu-awa [84] hiwa, 25 He ike a ke Akua, e! E Kapo, ho'i! E ho'i a noho i kou kuahu. Ho'ulu ia! Eia ka wai,[85] la, 30 He wai e ola. E ola nou, e!

[Footnote 73: Malama. Accented on the penult, as here, the word means to enlighten or a light (same in second verse). In the third and fourth verses the accent is changed to the first syllable, and the word here means to preserve, to foster. These words furnish an example of poetical word-repetition.]

[Footnote 74: Onioni. To squirm, to dodge, to move. The meaning here seems to be to move with delight.]

[Footnote 75: Waliine lei. A reference to Laka, the child of Kapo, who was symbolized by a block of wood on the altar. (See p. 23.)]

[Footnote 76: Hala-hala a i'a. Said to be a certain kind of fish that was ornamented about its tailend with a band of bright color; therefore an object of admiration and desire.]

[Footnote 77: Hala-Hala a mea. The ending mea is perhaps taken from the last half of the proper name Hau-mea who was Kapo's mother. It belongs to the land, in contrast to the sea, and seems to be intended to intensify and extend the meaning of the term previously used. The passage is difficult. Expert Hawaiians profess their inability to fathom its meaning.]

[Footnote 78: Alihi luna. The line or "stretching cord," that runs the length of a net at its top, the a lalo being the corresponding line at the bottom of the net. The exact significance of this language complimentary to Kapo can not be phrased compactly.]

[Footnote 79: Poha-ku. The line that runs up and down at the end of a long net, by which it may be anchored.]

[Footnote 80: Moo-helaia. See note a, p. 33.]

[Footnote 81: Kaulana-a-ula. See note d, p, 33.]

[Footnote 82: Ula leo. See note e, p. 33.]

[Footnote 83: Kaana. A place on Mauna-loa, Molokai, where the lehua greatly flourished. The body of Kapo, it is said, now lies there in appearance a rock. The same claim is made for a rock at Wailua, Hana, Maui.]

[Footnote 84: Pu-awa hiwa (hiwa, black). A kind of strong awa. The gentle exhilaration, as well as the deep sleep, of awa were benefits ascribed to the gods. Awa was an essential to most complete sacrifices.]

[Footnote 85: Wai. Literally water, refers to the bowl of awa, replenished each day, which set on the altar of the goddess.]

Verses 9 to 15, inclusive, are almost identical in form with the first seven verses in the Mele Kuahu addressed to Laka, given on page 33.


An Altar-Prayer (to Kane and Kapo): also a Garland-Prayer, used while decorating the altar

Now, Kane, approach, illumine the altar; Stoop, and enlighten mortals below; Rejoice in the gifts I have brought. Wreathed goddess fostered by Kapo— 5 Hail Kapo, of beauty resplendent! Great Kapo, of sea and land, The topmost stay of the net, Its lower stay and anchoring line. Kapo sits in her darksome covert; 10 On the terrace, at Mo'o-he-laia, Stands the god-tree of Ku, on Mauna-loa. God Kaulana-ula twigs now mine ear, His whispered suggestion to me is This payment, sacrifice, offering, 15 Tribute of praise to thee, O Kapo divine. Inspiring spirit in sleep, answer my call. Behold, of Iehua bloom of Kaana The women are stringing enough To enwreath goddess Kapo; 20 Kapo, great queen of that island, Of the high and the low. The day of revealing shall see what it sees: [Page 46] A seeing of facts, a sifting of rumors, An insight won by the black sacred awa, 25 A vision like that of a god! O Kapo, return! Return, and abide in your altar! Make it fruitful! Lo, here is the water, 30 The water of life! Hail, now, to thee!

The little god-folk, whom the ancients called Kini Akua—myriads of gods—and who made the wildwoods and wilderness their playground, must also be placated. They were a lawless set of imps; the elfins, brownies, and kobolds of our fairy world were not "up to them" in wanton deviltry. If there is to be any luck in the house, it can only be when they are dissuaded from outbreaking mischief.

The pule next given is a polite invitation to these little brown men of the woods to honor the occasion with their presence and to bring good luck at their coming. It is such a prayer as the visitor might choose to repeat at this time, or it might be used on other occasions, as at the consecration of the kuahu:

He Pule Kuahu (no Kini Akua)

E ulu, e ulu, Kini o ke Akua! Ulu Kane me Kanaloa! Ulu Ohi'a-lau-koa, me ka Ie-ie! A'e mai a noho i kou kuahu! 5 Eia ka wai la, he wai e ola. E ola no, e-e!


An Altar-Prayer (to the Kini Akua)

Gather, oh gather, ye hosts of godlings! Come Kane with Kanaloa! Come leafy Ohi'a and I-e! Possess me and dwell in your altar! 5 Here's water, water of life! Life, give us life!

The visitor, having satisfied his sense of what the occasion demands, changes his tone from that of cantillation to ordinary speech, and concludes his worship with a petition conceived in the spirit of the following prayer:

E ola ia'u, i ka malihini; a pela hoi na kamaaina, ke kumu, na haumana, ia oe, e Laka. E Laka ia Pohaku i ka wawae. E Laka i ke kupe'e. E Laka ia Luukia i ka pa-u; e Laka i ke kuhi; e Laka i ka leo; e Laka i ka lei. E Laka i ke ku ana imua o ke anaina. [Page 47]


Thy blessing, O Laka, on me the stranger, and on the residents, teacher and pupils. O Laka, give grace to the feet of Pohaku; and to her bracelets and anklets; comeliness to the figure and skirt of Luukia. To (each one) give gesture and voice. O Laka, make beautiful the lei; inspire the dancers when they stand before the assembly.

At the close of this service of song and prayer the visitor will turn from the kuahu and exchange salutations and greetings with his friends in the halau.

The song-prayer "Now, Kane, approach, illumine the altar" (p. 45) calls for remark. It brings up again the question, previously discussed, whether there were not two distinct cults of worshipers, the one devoted to Laka, the other to Kapo. The following facts will throw light on the question. On either side of the approach to the altar stood, sentinel-like, a tall stem of hala-pepe, a graceful, slender column, its head of green sword-leaves and scarlet drupes making a beautiful picture. (See p. 24.) These are said to have been the special emblems of the goddess Kapo.

The following account of a conversation the author had with an old woman, whose youthful days were spent as a hula dancer, will also help to disentangle the subject and explain the relation of Kapo to the hula:

"Will you not recite again the prayer you just now uttered, and slowly, that it may be written down?" the author asked of her. "Many prayers for the kuahu have been collected, but this one differs from them all."

"We Hawaiians," she answered, "have been taught that these matters are sacred (kapu) and must not be bandied about from mouth to mouth."

"Aye, but the time of the tabus has passed. Then, too, in a sense having been initiated into hula matters, there can be no impropriety in my dealing with them in a kindly spirit."

"No harm, of course, will come to you, a haole (foreigner). The question is how it will affect us."

"Tell me, were there two different classes of worshipers, one class devoted to the worship of Laka and another class devoted to the worship of Kapo?"

"No," she answered, "Kapo and Laka were one in spirit, though their names were two."

"Haumea was the mother of Kapo. Who was her father?"

"Yes, Haumea was the mother, and Kua-ha-ilo [86] was the father:"

"How about Laka?"

[Footnote 86: Kua-ha-ilo. A god of the kahuna anaana; meaning literally to breed maggots in the back.] [Page 48] "Laka was the daughter of Kapo. Yet as a patron, of the hula Laka stands first; she was worshiped at an earlier date than Kapo; but they are really one."

Further questioning brought out the explanation that Laka was not begotten in ordinary generation; she was a sort of emanation from Kapo. It was as if the goddess should sneeze and a deity should issue with the breath from her nostrils; or should wink, and thereby beget spiritual offspring from the eye, or as if a spirit should issue forth at some movement of the ear or mouth.

When the old woman's; scruples had been laid to rest, she repeated slowly for the author's benefit the pule given on pages 45 and 46, "Now, Kane, approach," ... of which the first eight lines and much of the last part, to him, were new.

[Page 49]


The costume of the hula dancer was much the same for both sexes, its chief article a simple short skirt about the waist, the pa-u. (PL I.)

When the time has come for a dance, the halau becomes one common dressing room. At a signal from the kumu the work begins. The putting on of each article of costume is accompanied by a special song.

First come the ku-pe'e, anklets of whale teeth, bone, shell-work, dog-teeth, fiber-stuffs, and what not. While all stoop in unison they chant the song of the anklet:

Mele Ku-pe'e

Aala kupukupu[87] ka uka o Kane-hoa.[88] E ho-a![89] Hoa na lima o ka makani, he Wai-kaloa.[90] He Wai-kaloa ka makani anu Lihue. 5 Alina[91] lehua i kau ka opua— Ku'u pua, Ku'u pua i'ini e ku-i a lei. Ina ia oe ke lei 'a mai la.



Fragrant the grasses of high. Kane-hoa. Bind on the anklets, bind! Bind with finger deft as the wind That cools the air of this bower. 5 Lehua bloom pales at my flower, O sweetheart of mine, Bud that I'd pluck and wear in my wreath, If thou wert but a flower!

[Footnote 87: Kupukupu. Said to be a fragrant grass.]

[Footnote 88: Kane-hoa. Said to be a hill at Kaupo, Maul. Another person says it is a hill at Lihue, on Oahu. The same name is often repeated.]

[Footnote 89: Ho-a. To bind. An instance of word-repetition, common in Hawaiian poetry.]

[Footnote 90: Wai-kaloa. A cool wind that Wows at Lihue, Kauai]

[Footnote 91: Alina. A scar, or other mark of disfigurement, a moral blemish. In ancient times lovers inflicted injuries on themselves to prove devotion.]

The short skirt, pa-u, was the most important piece of attire worn by the Hawaiian female. As an article of daily wear it represented many stages of evolution beyond the primitive fig-leaf, being fabricated from a great variety of [Page 50] materials furnished by the garden of nature. In its simplest terms the pa-u was a mere fringe of vegetable fibers. When placed as the shield of modesty about the loins of a woman of rank, or when used as the full-dress costume of a dancing girl on a ceremonious occasion, it took on more elaborate forms, and was frequently of tapa, a fabric the finest specimens of which would not have shamed the wardrobe of an empress.

In the costuming of the hula girl the same variety obtained as in the dress of a woman of rank. Sometimes her pa-u would be only a close-set fringe of ribbons stripped from the bark of the hibiscus (hau), the ti leaf or banana fiber, or a fine rush, strung upon a thong to encircle the waist. In its most elaborate and formal style the pa-u consisted of a strip of fine tapa several yards long and of width to reach nearly to the knees. It was often delicately tinted or printed, as to its outer part, with stamped figures. The part of the tapa skirt thus printed, like the outer, decorative one in a set of tapa bed-sheets, was termed the kilohana.

The pa-u worn by the danseuse, when of tapa, was often of such volume as to balloon like the skirt of a coryphee. To put it on was quite an art, and on that account, if not on the score of modesty, a portion of the halau, was screened off and devoted to the use of the females as a dressing room, being known as the unu-lau-koa, and to this place they repaired as soon as the kumu gave the signal for dressing.

The hula pa-u of the women was worn in addition to that of daily life; the hula pa-u of the men, a less pretentious affair, was worn outside the malo, and in addition to it.

The method of girding on the pa-u was peculiar. Beginning at the right hip—some say the left—a free end was allowed to hang quite to the knee; then, passing across the back, rounding the left hip, and returning by way of the abdomen to the starting point, another circuit of the waist was accomplished; and, a reverse being made, the garment was secured by passing the bight of the tapa beneath the hanging folds of the pa-u from below upward until it slightly protruded above the border of the garment at the waist. This second end was thus brought to hang down the hip alongside of the first free end; an arrangement that produced a most decorative effect.

The Hawaiians, in their fondness for giving personal names to inanimate objects, named the two free ends (apua) of the pa-u respectively Ku-kapu-ula-ka-lani and Lele-a-mahu'i.

According to another method, which was simpler and more commonly employed, the piece was folded sidewise and, being gathered into pleats, a cord was inserted the length of the fold. The cord was passed about the waist, knotted at the hip, and thus held the garment secure. [Page 51] While the girls are making their simple toilet and donning their unique, but scanty, costume, the kumu, aided by others, soothes the impatience of the audience and stimulates their imagination by cantillating a mele that sets forth in grandiloquent imagery the praise of the pa-u.

Oli Pa-u

Kakua pa-u, ahu na kikepa![92] I ka pa-u noenoe i hooluu'a, I hookakua ia a paa iluna o ka imu.[93] Ku ka nu'a[94] o ka pali o ka wai kapu, 5 He kuina[95] pa-u pali[96] no Kupe-hau, I holo a paa ia, paa e Hono-kane.[97]

Malama o lilo i ka pa-u. Holo ilio la ke ala ka Manu[98] i na pali; Pali ku kahako liaka a-i, 10 I ke keiki pa-u pali a Kau-kini,[99] I hoonu'anu'a iluna o ka Auwana.[100]

[Page 52] Akahi ke ana, ka luhi i ka pa-u: Ka ho-oio i ke kapa-wai, I na kikepa wai o Apua,[101] 15 I hopu 'a i ka ua noe holo poo-poo, Me he pa-u elehiwa wale i na pali.

Ohiohi ka pali, ki ka liko o ka lama, Mama ula[102] ia ka malua ula, I hopu a omau ia e ka maino. 20 I[103] ka malo o Umi ku huna mai. Ike'a ai na maawe wai olona,[104] E makili ia nei i Wahilau.[105] Holo ke olona, paa ke kapa.

Hu'a lepo ole ka pa-u; 25 Nani ka o-iwi ma ka maka kilo-hana.[106] Makalii ka ohe,[107] paa ke kapa.

Opua ke ahi i na pali, I hookau kalena ia e ka makani, I kaomi pohaku ia i Wai-manu, 30 I na ala[108] ki-ola-ola; I na ala, i ala lele Ia Kane-poha-ka'a.[109]

Paa ia Wai-manu,[110] o-oki Wai-pi'o; Lalau o Ha'i i ka ohe, Ia Koa'e-kea,[111] 35 I kauhihi ia ia ohe laulii, ia ohe. Oki'a a moku, mo' ke kini,[112] [Page 53] Mo ke kihl, ka maiama ka Hoaka,[113] I apahu ia a poe, 40 O awili[114] o Malu-o.

He pola ia no ka pa-u; E hii ana e Ka-holo-kua-iwa, Ke amo la e Pa-wili-wlli I ka pa-u poo kau-poku—[115] 45 Kau poku a hana ke ao, Kau iluna o Hala'a-wili, I owili hana haawe.

Ku-ka'a, olo-ka'a wahie; Ka'a ka opeope, ula ka pali;[116] 50 Uwa, kamalii, hookani ka pihe, Hookani ka a'o,[117] a hana pilo ka leo, I ka mahalo i ka pa-u, I ka pa-u wai-lehua a Hi'i-lawe[118] iluna, Pi'o anuenue a ka ua e ua nei.

[Footnote 92: Kikepa. The bias, the one-sided slant given the pa-u by tucking it in at one side, as previously described.]

[Footnote 93: Imu. An oven; an allusion to the heat and passion of the part covered by the pa-u.]

[Footnote 94: Hu'a. Foam; figurative of the fringe at the border of the pa-u.]

[Footnote 95: Kuina. A term applied to the five sheets that were stitched together (kui) to make a set of bed-clothes. Five turns also, it is said, complete a pa-u.]

[Footnote 96: Pali no Kupe-Hau. Throughout the poem the pa-u is compared to a pali, a mountain wall. Kupe-hau is a precipitous part of Wai-pi'o valley.]

[Footnote 97: Hono-kane. A valley near Wai-pi'o. Here it is personified and said to do the work on the pa-u.]

[Footnote 98: Manu. A proper name given to this pa-u.]

[Footnote 99: Kau-kini. The name of a hill back of Lahaina-luna, the traditional residence of a kahuna named Lua-hoo-moe, whose two sons were celebrated for their manly beauty. Ole-pau, the king of the island Maui, ordered his retainer, Lua-hoo-moe, to fetch for his eating some young u-a'u, a sea-bird that nests and rears its young in the mountains. These young birds are esteemed a delicacy. The kahuna, who was a bird-hunter, truthfully told the king that it was not the season for the young birds; the parent birds were haunting the ocean. At this some of the king's boon companions, moved by ill-will, charged the king's mountain retainer with suppressing the truth, and in proof they brought some tough old birds caught at sea and had them served for the king's table. Thereupon the king, not discovering the fraud, ordered that Lua-hoo-moe should be put to death by fire. The following verses were communicated to the author as apropos of Kau-kini, evidently the name of a man:

Ike ia Kau-kini, he lawaia manu. He upena ku'u i ka noe i Poha-kahi, Ua hoopulu ia i ka ohu ka kikepa; Ke na'i la i ka luna a Kea-auwana; Ka uahi i ke ka-peku e hei ai ka manu o Pu-o-alii. O ke alii wale no ka'u i makemake Ali'a la, ha'o, e!


Behold Kau-kini, a fisher of birds; Net spread in the mist of Poha-kahi, That is soaked by the sidling fog. It strives on the crest of Koa-auwana. Smoke traps the birds of Pu-o-alii. It's only the king that I wish: But stay now—I doubt. ] [Footnote 100: Auwana. Said to be an eminence on the flank of Haleakala, back of Ulupalakua.]

[Footnote 101: Apua. A place on Hawaii, on Maui, on Oahu, on Kauai, and on Molokai.]

[Footnote 102: Mama ula ia ka malua ula. The malua-ula was a variety of tapa that was stained with hili kukui (the root-bark of the kukui tree). The ripe kukui nut was chewed into a paste and mingled with this stain. Mama ula refers to this chewing. The malua ula is mentioned as a foil to the pa-u, being a cheap tapa.]

[Footnote 103: I. A contracted form of ti or ki, the plant or, as in this case, the leaf of the ti, the Dracaena (pl. V). Liloa, the father Of Umi, used it to cover himself after his amour with the mother of Umi, having given his malo in pledge to the woman. Umi may have used this same leaf as a substitute for the malo while in the wilderness of Laupahoehoe, hiding away from his brother, King Hakau.]

[Footnote 104: Olona. A strong vegetable fiber sometimes added to tapa to give it strength. The fibers of olona in the fabric of the pa-u are compared to the runnels and brooklets of Waihilau.]

[Footnote 105: Wai-hilau. Name applied to the water that drips in a cave in Puna. It is also the name of a stream in Wai-pi'o valley, Hawaii.]

[Footnote 106: Kilo-hana. The name given the outside, ornamented, sheet of a set (kuina) of five tapas used as bed-clothing. It was also applied to that part of a pa-u which was decorated with figures. The word comes from kilohi, to examine critically, and hana, to work, and therefore means an ornamental work.]

[Footnote 107: Ohe. Bamboo. In this case the stamp, made from bamboo, used to print the tapa.]

[Footnote 108: Ala. The hard, dark basalt of which the Hawaiian ko'i, adz, is made; any pebble, or small water-worn stone, such as would be used to hold in place the pa-u while spread out to dry.]

[Footnote 109: Kane-poha-ka'a. Kane-the-hail-sender. The great god Kane was also conceived of as Kane-hekili, the thunderer; Kane-lulu-honua, the earthquake-sender, etc.]

[Footnote 110: Wai-manu and Wai-pi'o are neighboring valleys.]

[Footnote 111: Ko-a'e-kea. A land in Wai-pi'o valley.]

[Footnote 112: Mo' ke kihi. Mo' is a contracted form of moku.]

[Footnote 113: Hoaka. The name of the moon in its second day, or of the second day of the Hawaiian month; a crescent.]

[Footnote 114: O awili o Malu-a. The most direct and evident sense of the word awili is to wrap. It probably means the wrapping of the pa-u about the loins; or it may mean the movable, shifty action of the pa-u caused by the lively actions of the dancer. The expression Malw-a may be taken from the utterance of the king's ilamuku (constable or sheriff) or other official, who, in proclaiming a tabu, held an idol in his arms and at the same time called out Kapu, o-o! The meaning is that the pa-u, when wrapped about the woman's loins, laid a tabu on the woman. The old Hawaiian consulted on the meaning of this passage quoted the following, which illustrates the fondness of his people for endless repetitions and play upon words:

Awiliwili i ka hale[119] o ka lauwili, e. He lauwili ka makanl, he Kaua-ula,[120] I hoapaapa i ka hale o ka lauwili, e:


Unstable the house of the shifty man, Fickle as the wind Kaua-ula. Treachery lurks in the house of Unstable. ]

[Footnote 115: Kaupoku. A variant of the usual form, which is kaupaku, the ridgepole of a house, its apex. The pa-ti when, worn takes the shape of a grass house, which has the form of a haystack.]

[Footnote 116: Ula ka pali. Red shows the pali, i. e., the side hill. This is a euphemism for some accident by which the pa-u has been displaced, and an exposure of the person has taken place, as a result of which the boys scream and even the sea-bird, the a'o, shrieks itself hoarse.]

[Footnote 117: A'o. A sea-bird, whose raucous voice is heard in the air at night at certain seasons.]

[Footnote 118: Hi'i-lawe. A celebrated waterfall in Wai-pi'o valley, Hawaii.]

[Footnote 119: Primitive meaning, house; second, the body as the house of the soul.]

[Footnote 120: Kaua-ula. A strong wind that shifted from one point to another, and that blew, often with great violence, at Lahaina, Maul. The above triplet was often quoted by the chiefs of olden time apropos of a person who was fickle in love or residence. As the old book has it, "The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." (O ke kanaka lolilua ka manao lauwili kona mau aoao a pau.)]

This is a typical Hawaiian poem of the better sort, keyed in a highly imaginative strain. The multitude of specific allusions to topographical names make it difficult to [Page 54] translate it intelligently to a foreign mind. The poetical units are often so devised that each new division takes its clue from the last word of the previous verse, on the principle of "follow your leader," a capital feature in Hawaiian poetry.


Pa-u Song

Gird on the pa-u, garment tucked in one side, Skirt lacelike and beauteous in staining, That is wrapped and made fast about the oven. Bubbly as foam of falling water it stands, 5 Quintuple skirt, sheer as the cliff Kupe-hau. One journeyed to work on it at Honokane.

Have a care the pa-u is not filched. Scent from the robe Manu climbs the valley walls— Abysses profound, heights twisting the neck. 10 A child is this steep thing of the cliff Kau-kini, A swelling cloud on the peak of Auwana.

Wondrous the care and toil to make the pa-u! What haste to finish, when put a-soak In the side-glancing stream of Apua! 15 Caught by the rain-scud that searches the glen, The tinted gown illumines the pali—

The sheeny steep shot with buds of lama— Outshining the comely malua-ula. Which one may seize and gird with a strong hand. 20 Leaf of ti for his malo, Umi[121] stood covered.

Look at the olona fibers inwrought, Like the trickling brooklets of Wai-hilau. The olona, fibers knit with strength This dainty immaculate web, the pa-u, 25 And the filmy weft of the kilo-hana. With the small bamboo the tapa is finished.

A fire seems to bud on the pali, When the tapa is spread out to dry, Pressed down with stones at Wai-manu— 30 Stones that are shifted about and about, Stones that are tossed here and there, Like work of the hail-thrower Kane.

At Wai-manu finished, 'tis cut at Wai-pi'o; Ha'l takes the bamboo Ko-a'e-kea; [Page 55] 35 Deftly wields the knife of small-leafed bamboo; A bamboo choice and fit for the work. Cut, cut through, cut off the corners; Cut round, like crescent moon of Hoaka; Cut in scallops this shift that makes tabu: 40 A fringe is this for the pa-u.

'Tis lifted by Ka-holo-ku-iwa, 'Tis borne by Pa-wili-wili; A pa-u narrow at top like a house, That's hung on the roof-tree till morning,

45 Hung on the roof-tree Ha-la'a-wili. Make a bundle fitting the shoulder; Lash it fast, rolled tight like a log. The bundle falls, red shows the pali; The children shout, they scream in derision. 50 The a'o bird shrieks itself hoarse In wonder at the pa-u— Pa-u with a sheen like Hi'i-lawe falls, Bowed like the rainbow arch Of the rain that's now falling.

[Footnote 121: Umi. It was Liloa, the father of Umi, who covered himself with a ti leaf instead of a malo after the amour that resulted in the birth of Umi. His malo he had given as a pledge to the woman, who became the mother of Umi.]

The girls of the olapa, their work in the tiring-room completed, lift their voices in a spirited song, and with a lively motion pass out into the hall to bloom before the waiting assembly in the halau in all the glory of their natural charms and adornments:


Ku ka punohu ula i ka moana; Hele ke ehu-kai, uhi i ka aina; Olapa ka uila, noho i Kahiki. Ulna, nakolo, 5 Uwa, ka pihe, Lau[122] kanaka ka hula. E Laka, e!


Tiring Song.

The rainbow stands red o'er the ocean; Mist crawls from the sea and covers the land; Far as Kahiki flashes the lightning; A reverberant roar, 5 A shout of applause From the four hundred. I appeal to thee, Laka!

[Footnote 122: Lau (archaic). Four hundred.] [Page 56] The answering song, led by the kumu, is in the same flamboyant strain:


Lele Mahu'ilani[123] a luna, Lewa ia Kauna-lewa![124]



Lift Mahu'ilani on high; Thy palms Kauna-lewa a-waving!

[Footnote 123: Mahu'ilani. A poetlcal name for the right hand; this the olapa, the dancing girls, lifted in extension as they entered the halau from, the dressing room. The left hand was termed Kaohi-lani.]

[Footnote 124: Kauna-lewa. The name of a celebrated grove of coconuts at Kekaha, Kauai, near the residence of the late Mr. Knudsen.]

After the ceremony of the pa-u came that of the lei, a wreath to crown the head and another for the neck and shoulders. It was not the custom in the old times to overwhelm the body with floral decorations and to blur the outlines of the figure to the point of disfigurement; nor was every flower that blows acceptable as an offering. The gods were jealous and nice in their tastes, pleased, only with flowers indigenous to the soil—the ilima (pl. VI), the lehua, the maile, the ie-ie, and the like (see pp. 19, 20). The ceremony was quickly accomplished. As the company knotted the garlands about head or neck, they sang:

Oli Lei

Ke lei mai la o Ka-ula i ke kai, e! Ke malamalama o Niihau, ua malie. A malie, pa ka Inu-wai. Ke inu mai la na hala o Naue i ke kai. 5 No Naue, ka hala, no Puna ka wahine.[125] No ka lua no i Kilauea.


Wreath Song

Ka-ula wears the ocean as a wreath; Nii-hau shines forth in the calm. After the calm blows the wind Inu-wai; Naue's palms then drink in the salt. 5 From Naue the palm, from Puna the woman— Aye, from the pit, Kilauea.

Tradition tells a pathetic story (p. 212) in narrating an incident touching the occasion on which this song first was sung.

[Footnote 125: Wahine. The woman, Pele.]


[Page 57]


Every formal hula was regarded by the people of the olden time as a sacred and religious performance (tabu); but all hulas were not held to be of equal dignity and rank (hanohano). Among those deemed to be of the noblest rank and honor was the ala'a-papa. In its best days this was a stately and dignified performance, comparable to the old-fashioned courtly minuet.

We shall observe in this hula the division of the performers into two sets, the hoopa'a and the olapa. Attention will naturally bestow itself first on the olapa, a division of the company made up of splendid youthful figures, young men, girls, and women in the prime of life. They stand a little apart and in advance of the others, the right hand extended, the left resting upon the hip, from which hangs in swelling folds the pa-u. The time of their waiting for the signal to begin the dance gives the eye opportunity to make deliberate survey of the forms that stand before us.

The figures of the men are more finely proportioned, more statuesque, more worthy of preservation in marble or bronze than those of the women. Only at rare intervals does one find among this branch of the Polynesian race a female shape which from crown to sole will satisfy the canons of proportion—which one carries in the eye. That is not to say, however, that the artistic eye will not often meet a shape that appeals to the sense of grace and beauty. The springtime of Hawaiian womanly beauty hastes away too soon. Would it were possible to stay that fleeting period which ushers in full womanhood!

One finds himself asking the question to what extent the responsibility for this overthickness of leg and ankle—exaggerated in appearance, no doubt, by the ruffled anklets often worn—this pronounced tendency to the growth of that degenerate weed, fat, is to be explained by the standard of beauty which held sway in Hawaii's courts and for many ages acted as a principle of selection in the physical molding of the Hawaiian female.

The prevailing type of physique among the Hawaiians, even more marked in the women than in the men, is the short and thick, as opposed to the graceful and slender. One does occasionally find delicacy of modeling in the young and immature; but with adolescence fatness too often comes to blur the outline.

The hoopa'a, who act as instrumentalists, very naturally maintain a position between sitting and kneeling, the better [Page 58] to enable them, to handle that strangely effective drumlike instrument, the ipu, the one musical instrument used as an accompaniment in this hula. The ipu is made from the bodies of two larger pear-shaped calabashes of unequal sizes, which are joined together at their smaller ends in such a manner as to resemble a figure-of-eight. An opening is left at the top of the smaller calabash to increase the resonance. In moments of calm the musicians allow the body to rest upon the heels; as the action warms they lift themselves to such height as the bended knee will permit.

The ala'a-papa is a hula of comparatively moderate action. While the olapa employ hands, feet, and body in gesture and pose to illustrate the meaning and emotion of the song, the musicians mark the time by lifting and patting with the right hand the ipu each holds in the left hand. If the action of the play runs strong and stirs the emotions, each hoopa'a lifts his ipu wildly, fiercely smites it, then drops it on the padded rest in such manner as to bring out its deep mysterious tone.

At a signal from the kumu, who sits with the hoopa'a, the poo-pua'a, leader of the olapa, calls the mele (kahea i ka mele)—that is, he begins its recitation—in a tone differing but little from that of ordinary conversation, a sing-song recitation, a vocalization less stilted and less punctilious than that usually employed in the utterance of the oli or mele. The kumu, the leader of the company, now joins in, mouthing his words in full observance of the mele style. His manner of cantillation may be either what may be called the low relief, termed ko'i-honua, or a pompous alto-relievo style, termed ai-ha'a. This is the signal for the whole company to chime in, in the same style as the kumu. The result, as it seems to the untutored ear, is a confusion of sounds like that of the many-tongued roar of the ocean.

The songs cantillated for the hula ala'a-papa were many and of great variety. It seems to have been the practice for the kumu to arrange a number of mele, or poetical pieces, for presentation in the hula in such order as pleased him. These different mele, thus arranged, were called pale, compartments, or mahele, divisions, as if they were integral parts of one whole, while in reality their relation to one another was only that of the juxtaposition imposed upon them by the kumu.

The poetical pieces first to be presented were communicated to the author as mahele, divisions—hardly cantos—in the sense above defined. They are, however, distinct poems, though there chances to run through them all a somewhat similar motive. The origin of many of these is referred to a past so remote that tradition assigns them to what the Hawaiians call the wa po, the night of tradition, or they say of them, no ke akua mai, they are from the gods. It [Page 59] matters not how faithful has been the effort to translate these poems, they will not be found easy of comprehension. The local allusions, the point of view, the atmosphere that were in the mind of the savage are not in our minds to-day, and will not again be in any mind on earth; they defy our best efforts at reproduction. To conjure up the ghostly semblance of these dead impalpable things and make them live again is a problem that must be solved by each one with such aid from the divining rod of the imagination as the reader can summon to his help.

Now for the play, the song:

Mele no Ka Hula Ala'a-papa



A Koolau wau, ike i ka ua, E ko-kolo la-lepo ana ka ua, E ka'i ku ana, ka'i mai ana ka ua, E nu mai ana ka ua i ke kuahiwi, 5 E po'i ana ka ua me he nalu la. E puka, a puka mai ka ua la. Waliwali ke one i ka hehi'a e ka ua; Ua holo-wai na kaha-wai; Ua ko-ke wale na pali. 10 Aia ka wai la i ka ilina,[126] he ilio, He ilio hae, ke nahu nei e puka.


Song for the Hula Ala'a-papa.



'Twas in Koolau I met with the rain: It comes with lifting and tossing of dust, Advancing in columns, dashing along. The rain, It sighs In the forest; 5 The rain, it beats and whelms, like the surf; It smites, it smites now the land. Pasty the earth from the stamping rain; Full run the streams, a rushing flood; The mountain walls leap with the rain. 10 See the water chafing its bounds like a dog, A raging dog, gnawing its way to pass out.

This song is from the story of Hiiaka on her journey to Kauai to bring the handsome prince, Lohiau, to Pele. The region is that on the windward, Koolau, side of Oahu.

[Footnote 126: Ilina. A sink, a place where a stream sinks into the earth or sand.]

[Page 60]


Hoopono oe, he aina kai Waialua i ka hau; Ke olelo[127] wale no la i ka lani. Lohe ka uka o ka pehu i Ku-kani-loko.[128] I-loko, i-waho kaua la, e ka hoa, 5 I kahi e pau ai o ka oni? Oni ana i ka manawa o ka lili. Pee oe, pee ana iloko o ka hilahila. I hilahila wale ia no e oe; Nou no ka hale,[129] komo mai maloko.

The lines from, the fourth to the ninth in this stanza (pauku) represent a dialogue between two lovers.



Look now, Waialua, land clothed with ocean-mist— Its wilderness-cries heaven's ear only hears, The wilderness-gods of Ku-kani-loko. Within or without shall we stay, friend, 5 Until we have stilled the motion? To toss is a sign of impatience. You hide, hiding as if from shame, I am bashful because of your presence; The house is yours, you've only to enter.



Paku Kea-au,[130] lulu Wai-akea;[131] Noho i ka la'i Ioa o Hana-kahi,[132] O Hilo, i olokea[133] ia, i au la, e, i kai, O Lele-iwi,[134] o Maka-hana-loa.[135] 5 Me he kaele-papa[136] la Hilo, i lalo ka noho. Kaele[137] wale Hilo i ke alai ia e ka ua. Oi ka niho o ka ua o Hilo i ka lani; Kua-wa'a-wa'a Hilo eli 'a e ka wai; Kai-koo, haki na nalu, ka ua o Hilo; [Page 61] 10 Ha'i lau-wili mai ka nahele. Nanalu, kahe waikahe o Wai-luku; Hohonu Waiau,[138] nalo ke poo o ka lae o Moku-pane;[139] Wai ulaula o Wai-anue-nue;[140] Ka-wowo nui i ka wai o Kolo-pule-pule;[141] 15 Halulu i ha-ku'i, ku me he uahi la Ka pua, o ka wai ua o-aka i ka lani. Eleele Hilo e, pano e, i ka ua; Okakala ka hulu o Hilo i ke anu; Pili-kau[142] mai Hilo ia ua loa. 20 Pali-ku laau ka uka o Haili[143] Ka lae ohi'a e kope-kope, Me he aha moa la, ka pale pa laau, Ka nahele o Pa-ie-ie,[144] Ku'u po'e lehua iwaena konu o Mo-kau-lele;[145] 25 Me ka ha'i laau i pu-kaula hala'i i ka ua. Ke nana ia la e la'i i Hanakahi. Oni aku Hilo, oni ku'u kai lipo-lipo, A Lele-iwi, ku'u kai ahu mimiki a ka Malua.[146] Lei kahiko, lei nalu ka poai. 30 Nana Pu'u-eo[147] e! makai ka iwi-honua,[148] e! Puna-hoa la, ino, ku, ku wau a Wai-akea la.

[Footnote 127: Olelo. To speak, to converse; here used figuratively to mean that the place is lonely, has no view of the ocean, looks only to the sky. "Looks that commerce with the sky."]

[Footnote 128: Ku-kani-loko. A land in Waialua, Oahu, to which princesses resorted in the olden times at the time of childbirth, that their offspring might have the distinction of being an alii kapu, a chief with a tabu.]

[Footnote 129: Hale House; a familiar euphemism of the human body.]

[Footnote 130: Kea-au. An ahu-pua'a, small division of land, in Puna adjoining Hilo, represented as sheltering Hilo on that side.]

[Footnote 131: Waiakea. A river in Hilo, and the land through which it flows.]

[Footnote 132: Hana-kahi. A land on the Hamakua side of Hilo, also a king whose name was a synonym for profound peace.]

[Footnote 133: Olo-kea. To be invited or pulled many ways at once; distracted.]

[Footnote 134: Lele-iwi. A cape on the north side of Hilo.]

[Footnote 135: Maka-hana-loa. A cape.]

[Footnote 136: Kaele-papa. A large, round, hollowed board on which to pound taro in the making of poi. The poi-board was usually long and oval.]

[Footnote 137: Kaele. In this connection the meaning is surrounded, encompassed by.]

[Footnote 138: Waiau. The name given to the stretch of Wailuku river near its mouth.]

[Footnote 139: Moku-pane. The cape between the mouth of the Wailuku river and the town of Hilo.]

[Footnote 140: Wai-anue-nue. Rainbow falls and the river that makes the leap.]

[Footnote 141: Kolo-pule-pule. Another branch of the Wailuku stream.]

[Footnote 142: Pili-kau. To hang low, said of a cloud.]

[Footnote 143: Haili. A region in the inland, woody, part of Hilo.]

[Footnote 144: Pa-ieie. A well-wooded part of Hilo, once much resorted to by bird-hunters; a place celebrated in Hawaiian song.]

[Footnote 145: Mokau-lele. A wild, woody region In the interior of Hilo.]

[Footnote 146: Malua. Name given to a wind from a northerly or northwesterly direction on several of the islands. The full form is Malua-lua.]

[Footnote 147: Pu'u-eo. A village in the Hilo district near Puna.]

[Footnote 148: Iwi-honua. Literally a bone of the earth: a projecting rock or a shoal; if in the water, an object to be avoided by the surf-rider. In this connection see note e, p. 36.]



(With distinct utterance)

Kea-au shelters, Waiakea lies in the calm, The deep peace of King Hana-kahi. Hilo, of many diversions, swims in the ocean, 'Tween Point Lele-iwi and Maka-hana-loa; 5 And the village rests in the bowl, Its border surrounded with rain— Sharp from the sky the tooth of Hilo's rain. Trenched is the land, scooped out by the downpour— Tossed and like gnawing surf is Hilo's rain— 10 Beach strewn with a tangle of thicket growth; A billowy freshet pours in Wailuku; Swoll'n is Wai-au, flooding the point Moku-pane; And red leaps the water of Anue-nue. A roar to heaven sends up Kolo-pule, [Page 62] 15 Shaking like thunder, mist rising like smoke. The rain-cloud unfolds in the heavens; Dark grows Hilo, black with the rain. The skin of Hilo grows rough from the cold; The storm-cloud hangs low o'er the land. 20 A rampart stand the woods of Haili; Ohi'as thick-set must be brushed aside, To tear one's way, like a covey of fowl, In the wilds of Pa-ie-ie— Lehua growths mine—heart of Mokau-lele. 25 A breaking, a weaving of boughs, to shield from rain; A look enraptured on Hana-kahi, Sees Hilo astir, the blue ocean tossing Wind-thrown-spray—dear sea—'gainst Point Lele-iwi— A time-worn foam-wreath to encircle its brow. 30 Look, Pu'u-eo! guard 'gainst the earth-rib! It's Puna-hoa reef; halt! At Waiakea halt!



Kua loloa Kea-au i ka nahele; Hala kua hulu-hulu Pana-ewa i ka laau; Inoino ka maha o ka ohia o La'a. Ua ku kepakepa ka maha o ka lehua; 5 Ua po-po'o-hina i ka wela a ke Akua. Ua u-ahi Puna i ka oloka'a pohaku, I ka huna pa'a ia e ka wahine. Nanahu ahi ka papa o Olu-ea; Momoku ahi Puna hala i Apua; 10 Ulu-a ka nahele me ka laau. Oloka'a kekahi ko'i e Papa-lau-ahi; I eli 'a kahi ko'i e Ku-lili-kaua. Kai-ahea a hala i Ka-li'u; A eu e, e ka La, ka malama-lama. 15 O-na-naka ka piko o Hilo ua me ke one, I hull i uka la, i hulihia i kai; Ua wa-wahi 'a, ua na-ha-ha, Ua he-hele-lei!



(Bombastic style)

Ke'-au is a long strip of wildwood; Shag of pandanus mantles Pan'-ewa; Scraggy the branching of Laa's ohias; The lehua limbs at sixes and sevens— 5 They are gray from the heat of the goddess. [Page 63] Puna smokes mid the bowling of rocks— Wood and rock the She-god heaps in confusion, The plain Oluea's one bed of live coals; Puna is strewn with fires clean to Apua, 10 Thickets and tall trees a-blazing. Sweep on, oh fire-ax, thy flame-shooting flood! Smit by this ax is Ku-lili-kaua. It's a flood tide of lava clean to Kali'u, And the Sun, the light-giver, is conquered. 15 The bones of wet Hilo rattle from drought; She turns for comfort to mountain, to sea, Fissured and broken, resolved into dust.

This poem is taken from the story of Hiiaka. On her return from the journey to fetch Lohiau she found that her sister Pele had treacherously ravaged with fire Puna, the district that contained her own dear woodlands. The description given in the poem is of the resulting desolation.


No-luna ka Hale-kai[149] no ka ma'a-lewa,[150] Nana ka maka ia Moana-nui-ka-lehua.[151] Noi au i ke Kai, e mali'o.[152] Ina ku a'e la he lehua[153] ilaila! 5 Hopoe-lehua[154] kiekie. Maka'u ka lehua i ke kanaka,[155] Lilo ilalo e hele ai, e-e, A ilalo hoi. O Kea-au[156] ili-ili nehe ke kai, [Page 64] 10 Hoo-lono[157] ke kai o Puna I ka ulu hala la, e-e, Kai-ko'o Puna. Ia hooneenee ia pili mai[158] kaua, e ke hoa. Ke waiho e mai la oe ilaila. 15 Ela ka mea ino la, he anu, A he anu me he mea la iwaho kaua, e ke hoa; Me he wai la ko kaua ili.

[Footnote 149: Hale-kai. A wild mountain, glen back of Hanalei valley, Kauai.]

[Footnote 150: Ma'alewa. An aerial root that formed a sort of ladder by which one climbed the mountain steeps; literally a shaking sling.]

[Footnote 151: Moana-nui-ka-lehua. A female demigod that came from the South (Ku-kulu-o-Kahiki) at about the same mythical period as that of Pele's arrival—If not in her company—and who was put in charge of a portion of the channel that lies between Kauai and Oahu. This channel was generally termed Ie-ie-waena and Ie-ie-waho. Here the name Moana-nui-ka-lehua seems to be used to indicate the sea as well as the demigoddess, whose dominion it was. Ordinarily she appeared as a powerful fish, but she was capable of assuming the form of a beautiful woman (mermaid?). The title lehua was given her on account of her womanly charms.]

[Footnote 152: Mali'o. Apparently another form of the word malino, calm; at any rate it has the same meaning.]

[Footnote 153: Lehua. An allusion to the ill-fated' young woman Hopoe, who was Hiiaka's intimate friend. The allusion is amplified in the next line.]

[Footnote 154: Hopoe-lehua. The lehua tree was one of the forms in which Hopoe appeared, and after her death, due to the jealous rage of Pele, she was turned into a charred lehua tree which stood on the coast subject to the beating of the surf.]

[Footnote 155: Maka'u ka lehua i ke kanaka. Another version has it Maka'u ke kanaka i ka lehua; Man fears the lehua. The form here used is perhaps an ironical allusion to man's fondness not only to despoil the tree of its scarlet flowers, but womanhood, the woman it represented.]

[Footnote 156: Kea-au. Often shortened in pronunciation to Ke-au, a fishing village in Puna near Hilo town. It now has a landing place for small vessels.]

[Footnote 157: Hoolono. To call, to make an uproar, to spread a report.]

[Footnote 158: Ia hoo-nee-nee ia pili mai. A very peculiar figure of speech. It Is as if the poet personified, the act of two lovers snuggling up close to each other. Compare with this the expression No huli mai, used by another poet in the thirteenth line of the lyric given on p. 204. The motive is the same in each case.]

The author of this poem of venerable age is not known. It is spoken of as belonging to the wa po, the twilight of tradition. It is represented to be part of a mele taught to Hiiaka by her friend and preceptress in the hula, Hopoe. Hopoe is often called Hopoe-wahine. From internal evidence one can see that it can not be in form the same as was given to Hiiaka by Hopoe; it may have been founded on the poem of Hopoe. If so, it has been modified.



From mountain retreat and root-woven ladder Mine eye looks down on goddess Moana-Lehua; I beg of the Sea, Be thou calm; Would there might stand on thy shore a lehua— 5 Lehua-tree tall of Ho-poe. The lehua is fearful of man; It leaves him to walk on the ground below, To walk the ground far below. The pebbles at Ke'-au grind in the surf. 10 The sea at Ke'-au shouts to Puna's palms, "Fierce is the sea of Puna." Move hither, snug close, companion mine; You lie so aloof over there. Oh what a bad fellow is cold! 15 'Tis as if we were out on the wold; Our bodies so clammy and chill, friend!

The last five verses, which sound like a love song, may possibly be a modern addition to this old poem. The sentiment they contain is comparable to that expressed in the Song of Welcome on page 39:

Eia ka pu'u nui o waho nei, he anu. The hill of Affliction out there is the cold.

[Page 65]


Hi'u-o-lani,[159] kii ka ua o Hilo[160] i ka lani; Ke hookiikii mai la ke ao o Pua-lani;[161] O mahele ana,[162] pulu Hilo i ka ua— O Hilo Hana-kahi.[163]

5 Ha'i ka nalu, wai kaka lepo o Pii-lani; Hai'na ka iwi o Hilo, I ke ku ia e ka wai. Oni'o lele a ka ua o Hilo i ka lanu

Ke hookiikii mai la ke ao o Pua-lani, 10 Ke holuholu a'e la e puka, Puka e nana ke kiki a ka ua, Ka nonoho a ka ua i ka hale o Hilo.

Like Hilo me Puna ke ku a mauna-ole[164] He ole ke ku a mauna Hilo me Puna. 15 He kowa Puna mawaena Hilo me Ka-u; Ke pili wale la i ke kua i mauna-ole; Pili hoohaha i ke kua o Mauna-loa.

He kuahiwi Ka-u e pa ka makani. Ke alai ia a'e la Ka-u e ke A'e;[165] 20 Ka-u ku ke ehu lepo ke A'e; Ku ke ehu-lepo mai la Ka-u i ka makani. Makani Kawa hu'a-lepo Ka-u i ke A'e.

[Page 66] Kahiko mau no o Ka-u i ka makani. Makani ka Lae-ka-ilio i Unu-lau, 25 Kaili-ki'i[166] a ka lua a Kaheahea,[167] I ka ha'a nawali ia ino.

Ino wa o ka mankani o Kau-na. Nana aku o ka makani malaila! O Hono-malino, malino i ka la'i o Kona. 30 He inoa la!

[Footnote 159: Hi'u-o-lani. A very blind phrase. Hawaiians disagree as to its meaning. In the author's opinion, it is a word referring to the conjurer's art.]

[Footnote 160: Ua o Hilo. Hilo is a very rainy country. The name Hilo seems to be used here as almost a synonym of violent rain. It calls to mind the use of the word Hilo to signify a strong wind:

Pa mai, pa mai, Ka makani a Hilo![168] Waiho ka ipu iki, Homai ka ipu nui!


Blow, blow, thou wind of Hilo! Leave the little calabash, Bring on the big one! ]

[Footnote 161: Pua-lani. The name of a deity who took the form of the rosy clouds of morning.]

[Footnote 162: Mahele ana. Literally the dividing; an allusion to the fact, it is said, that in Hilo a rain-cloud, or rain-squall, as it came up would often divide and a part of it turn off toward Puna at the cape named Lele-iwi, one-half watering, in the direction of the present town, the land known as Hana-kahi.]

[Footnote 163: Hana-kahi. Look at note f, p. 60.]

[Footnote 164: Mauna-ole. According to one authority this should be Mauna-Hilo. Verses 13, 14, 16, and 17 are difficult of translation. The play on the words ku a, standing at, or standing by, and kua, the back; also on the word kowa, a gulf or strait; and the repetition of the word mauna, mountain—all this is carried to such an extent as to be quite unintelligible to the Anglo-Saxon mind, though full of significance to a Hawaiian.]

[Footnote 165: A'e. A strong wind that prevails in Ka-u. The same word also means to step on, to climb. This double-meaning gives the poet opportunity for a euphuistic word-play that was much enjoyed by the Hawaiians. The Hawaiians of the present day are not quite up to this sort of logomachy.]

[Footnote 166: Kaili-ki'i. The promontory that shelters the cove Ka-hewa-hewa.]

[Footnote 167: Ka-hea-hea. The name of the cove Ka-hewa-hewa, above mentioned, is here given in a softened form obtained by the elision of the letter w.]

[Footnote 168: Hilo, or Whiro, as in the Maori, was a great navigator.]



Heaven-magic, fetch a Hilo-pour from heaven! Morn's cloud-buds, look! they swell in the East. The rain-cloud parts, Hilo is deluged with rain, The Hilo of King Hana-kahi.

5 Surf breaks, stirs the mire of Pii-lani; 5 The bones of Hilo are broken By the blows of the rain. Ghostly the rain-scud of Hilo in heaven;

The cloud-forms of Pua-lani grow and thicken. 10 The rain-priest bestirs him now to go forth, Forth to observe the stab and thrust of the rain, The rain that clings to the roof of Hilo.

Hilo, like Puna, stands mountainless; Aye, mountain-free stand Hilo and Puna. 15 Puna 's a gulf 'twixt Ka-u and Hilo; Just leaning her back on Mount Nothing, She sleeps at the feet of Mount Loa.

A mountain-back is Ka-u which the wind strikes, Ka-u, a land much scourged by the A'e. 20 A dust-cloud lifts in Ka-u as one climbs. A dust-bloom floats, the lift of the wind: 'Tis blasts from mountain-walls piles dust, the A'e.

Ka-u was always tormented with wind. Cape-of-the-Dog feels Unulau's blasts; 25 They turmoil the cove of Ka-hea-hea, Defying all strength with their violence.

There's a storm when wind blows at Kau-na. Just look at the tempest there raging! Hono-malino sleeps sheltered by Kona. 30 A eulogy this of a name.

"What name?" was asked of the old Hawaiian.

"A god," said he.

"How is that? A mele-inoa celebrates the name and glory of a king, not of a god." [Page 67]

His answer was, "The gods composed the mele; men did not compose it."

Like an old-time geologist, he solved the puzzle of a novel phenomenon by ascribing it to God.



A Koa'e-kea,[169] i Pueo-hulu-nui,[169] Neeu a'e la ka makahiapo o ka pali; A a'e, a a'e, a'e[170] la iluna Kaholo-kua-iwa, ka pali o Ha'i.[171] 5 Ha'i a'e la ka pali; Ha-nu'u ka pali; Hala e Malu-o; Hala a'e la Ka-maha-la'a-wili, Ke kaupoku hale a ka ua. 10 Me he mea i uwae'na a'e la ka pali; Me he hale pi'o ka lei na ka manawa o ka pali Halehale-o-u; Me he aho i hilo 'a la ka wai o Wai-hi-lau; Me he uahi pulehu-manu la ke kai o ka auwala hula ana. Au ana Maka'u-kiu[172] iloko o ke kai; 15 Pohaku lele[173] o Lau-nui, Lau-pahoehoe. Ka eku'na a ke kai i ka ala o Ka-wai-kapu— Eku ana, me he pua'a la, ka lae Makani-lele, Koho-la-lele.



(Bombastic style)

Haunt of white tropic-bird and big ruffled owl, Up rises the firstborn child of the pali. He climbs, he climbs, he climbs up aloft, Kaholo-ku'-iwa, the pali of Ha'i. 5 Accomplished now is the steep, The ladder-like series of steps. Malu-o is left far below. [Page 68] Passed is Ka-maha-la'-wili, The very ridge-pole of the rain— 10 It's as if the peak cut it in twain— An arched roof the peak's crest Hale-hale-o-u. A twisted cord hangs the brook Wai-hilau; Like smoke from roasting bird Ocean's wild dance; The shark-god is swimming the sea; 15 The rocks leap down at Big-leaf[174] and Flat-leaf—[174] See the ocean charge 'gainst the cliffs, Thrust snout like rooting boar against Windy-cape, Against Kohola-lele.

[Footnote 169: Koa'e-kea, Pueo hulu-nui. Steep declivities, pali, on the side of Waipio valley, Hawaii. Instead of inserting these names, which would be meaningless without an explanation, the author has given a literal translation of the names themselves, thus getting a closer insight into the Hawaiian thought.]

[Footnote 170: A'e. The precipices rise one above another like the steps of a stairway, climbing, climbing up, though the probable intent of the poet is to represent some one as climbing the ascent.]

[Footnote 171: Ha'i. Short for Ha'ina-kolo; a woman about whom there is a story of tragic adventure. Through eating when famished of some berries in an unceremonious way she became distraught and wandered about for many months until discovered by the persistent efforts of her husband. The pali which she climbed was named after her.]

[Footnote 172: Maka'u-kiu. The name of a famous huge shark that was regarded with reverential fear.]

[Footnote 173: Pohaku lele. In order to determine whether a shark was present, it was the custom, before going into the clear water of some of these coves, to throw rocks into the water in order to disturb the monster and make his presence known.]

[Footnote 174: Big-leaf. A literal translation of Lau-nui. Laupahoehoe, Flat-leaf.]


Hole[175] Waimea i ka ihe a ka makani, Hao mai na ale a ke Ki-pu'u-pu'u;[176] He laau kala-ihi ia na ke anu, I o'o i ka nahele o Mahiki.[177] 5 Ku aku la oe i ka Malanai[178] a ke Ki-puu-puu; Nolu ka maka o ka oha-wai[179] o Uli; Niniau, eha ka pua o Koaie,[180] Eha i ke anu ka nahele o Wai-ka-e, A he aloha, e! 10 Aloha Wai-ka, ia'u me he ipo la; Me he ipo la ka maka lena o ke Koo-lau,[181] Ka pua i ka nahele o Mahule-i-a, E lei hele i ke alo o Moo-lau.[182] E lau ka huaka'i-hele i ka pali loa; 15 Hele hihiu, puli[183] noho i ka nahele. O ku'u noho wale iho no i kahua, e-e. A he aloha, e-e! O kou aloha ka i hiki mai i o'u nei. Mahea la ia i nalo iho nei?

This mele, Hole Waimea, is also sung in connection with the hula ipu.

[Footnote 175: Hole. To rasp, to handle rudely, to caress passionately. Waimea is a district and village on Hawaii.]

[Footnote 176: Kipu'u-pu'u. A cold wind from Mauna-Kea that blows at Waimea.]

[Footnote 177: Mahiki. A woodland in Waimea, in mythological times haunted by demons and spooks.]

[Footnote 178: Mala-nai. The poetical name of a wind, probably the trade wind; a name much used in Hawaiian sentimental poetry.]

[Footnote 179: Oha-wai. A water hole that is filled by dripping; an important source of supply for drinking purposes in certain parts of Hawaii.]

[Footnote 180: Pua o Koaie, The koaie is a tree that grows in the wilds, the blossom of which is extremely fragrant. (Not the same as that subspecies of the koa (Acacia koa) which Hillebrand describes and wrongly spells koaia. Here a euphemism for the delicate parts.)]

[Footnote 181: Koolau, or, full form, Ko-kao-lau. Described by Doctor Hillebrand as Kokolau, a wrong spelling. It has a pretty yellow flower, a yellow eye—maka lena—as the song has it. Here used tropically. (This is the plant whose leaf is sometimes used as a substitute for tea.)]

[Footnote 182: Moolau. An expression used figuratively to mean a woman, more especially her breasts. The term Huli-lau, is also used, in a slang way, to signify the breasts of a woman, the primitive meaning being a calabash.]

[Footnote 183: Pili. To touch; touched. This was the word used in the forfeit-paying love game, kilu, when the player made a point by hitting the target of his opponent with his kilu. (For further description see p. 235.)] [Page 69] The song above given, the translation of which is to follow, belongs to historic times, being ascribed to King Liholiho—Kamehameha II—who died in London July 13, 1824, on his visit to England. It attained great vogue and still holds its popularity with the Hawaiians. The reader will note the comparative effeminacy and sentimentality of the style and the frequent use of euphemisms and double-entendre. The double meaning in a Hawaiian mele will not always be evident to one whose acquaintance with the language is not intimate. To one who comes to it from excursions in Anglo-Saxon poetry, wandering through its "meadows trim with daisies pied," the sly intent of the Hawaiian, even when pointed out, will, no doubt, seem an inconsequential thing and the demonstration of it an impertinence, if not a fiction to the imagination. Its euphemisms in reality have no baser intent than the euphuisms of Lyly, Ben Jonson, or Shakespeare.


Song—Hole Waimea


Love tousled Waimea with, shafts of the wind, While Kipuupuu puffed jealous gusts. Love is a tree that blights in the cold, But thrives in the woods of Mahiki. 5 Smitten art thou with the blows of love; Luscious the water-drip in the wilds; Wearied and bruised is the flower of Koaie; Stung by the frost the herbage of Wai-ka-e: And this—it is love. 10 Wai-ka, loves me like a sweetheart. Dear as my heart Koolau's yellow eye, My flower in the tangled wood, Hule-i-a, A travel-wreath to lay on love's breast, A shade to cover my journey's long climb. 15 Love-touched, distraught, mine a wilderness-home; But still do I cherish the old spot, For love—it is love. Your love visits me even here: Where has it been hiding till now?


Kau ka ha-e-a, kau o ka hana wa ele, Ke ala-ula ka makani, Kulu a e ka ua i kou wabi moe. Palepale i na auwai o lalo; 5 Eli mawaho o ka hale o Koolau, e. E lau Koolau, he aina ko'e-ko'e; Maka'u i ke anu ka uka o ka Lahuloa. Loa ia mea, na'u i waiho aku ai.

[Page 70]



A mackerel sky, time for foul weather; The wind raises the dust— Thy couch is a-drip with the rain; Open the door, let's trench about the house: 5 Koolau, land of rain, will shoot green leaves. I dread the cold of the uplands. An adventure that of long ago.

The poem above given from beginning to end is figurative, a piece of far-fetched, enigmatical symbolism in the lower plane of human nature.


Hoe Puna i ka wa'a po-lolo'[184] a ka ino; Ha-uke-uke i ka wa o Koolau: Eha e! eha la! Eha i ku'i-ku'i o ka Ulu-mano.[185] 5 Hala 'e ka waluahe a ke A'e,[186] Ku iho i ku'i-ku'i a ka Ho-li'o;[187] Hana ne'e ke kikala o ko Hilo Khii. Ho'i lu'u-lu'u i ke one o Hana-kahi,[188] I ka po-lolo' ua wahine o ka lua: 10 Mai ka lua no, e!



Puna plies paddle night-long in the storm; Is set back by a shift in the weather, Feels hurt and disgruntled; Dismayed at slap after slap of the squalls; 5 Is struck with eight blows of Typhoon; Then smit with the lash of the North wind. Sad, he turns back to Hilo's sand-beach: He'll shake the town with a scandal— The night-long storm with the hag of the pit, 10 Hag from Gehenna!

[Footnote 184: Po-lolo. A secret word, like a cipher, made up for the occasion and compounded of two words, po, night, and loloa, long, the final a, of loloa being dropped. This form of speech was called kepakepa, and was much used by the Hawaiians in old times.]

[Footnote 185: Ulu-mano. A violent wind which blows by night only on the western side of Hawaii. Kamehameha with a company of men was once wrecked by this wind off Nawawa; a whole village was burned to light them ashore. (Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language, by Lorrin Andrews.)]

[Footnote 186: Walu-ihe a ke A'e. The A'e is a violent wind that is described as blowing from different points of the compass in succession; a circular storm. Walu-ihe—eight spears—was a name applied to this same wind during a certain portion of its circuitous range, covering at least eight different points, as observed by the Hawaiians. It was well fitted, therefore, to serve as a figure descriptive of eight different lovers, who follow each other in quick succession, in the favors of the same wanton.]

[Footnote 187: Ho-Wo The name of a wind, but of an entirely different character from those above mentioned.]

[Footnote 188: Hana-kahi. (See note f, p. 60.)] [Page 71]

This is not a line-for-line translation; that the author found infeasible. Line 8 of the English represents line 7 of the Hawaiian. Given more literally, it might be, "He'll shake the buttocks of Hilo's forty thousand."

The metaphor of this song is disjointed, but hot with the primeval passions of humanity.


Ho-ina-inau mea ipo i ka nahele; Haa-kokoe ana ka maka i ka Moani, I ka ike i na pua i hoomahie 'Iuna; Ua hi-hi-hina wale i ka moe awakea. 5 Ka ino' ua poina ia Mali'o. Aia ka i Pua-lei o Ha'o. I Puna no ka waihona o ka makani; Kaela ka malama ana a ka Pu'u-lena, I kahi mea ho-aloha-loha, e! 10 E aloha, e!



Love is at play in the grove, A jealous swain glares fierce At the flowers tying love-knots, Lying wilted at noon-tide. 5 So you've forgotten Mali'o, Turned to the flower of Puna— Puna, the cave of shifty winds. Long have I cherished this blossom, A treasure hid in my heart! 10 Oh, sweetheart!

The following account is taken from the Polynesian Researches of the Rev. William Ellis, the well-known English missionary, who visited these islands in the years 1822 and 1823, and whose recorded observations have been of the highest value in preserving a knowledge of the institutions of ancient Hawaii.

In the afternoon, a party of strolling musicians and dancers arrived at Kairua. About four o'clock they came, followed by crowds of people, and arranged themselves on a fine sandy beach in front of one of the governor's houses, where they exhibited a native dance, called hura araapapa.

The five musicians first seated themselves in a line on the ground, and spread a piece of folded cloth on the sand before them. Their instrument was a large calabash, or rather two, one of an oval shape about three feet high, the other perfectly round, very neatly fastened to it, having also an aperture about three inches in diameter at the top. Each musician held his instrument before him with both hands, and produced his music by striking it on the ground, where he had laid a piece of cloth, and beating it with his fingers, or the palms of his hands. As soon as they began to sound their calabashes, the dancer, a young man about the middle stature, advanced through the opening crowd. [Page 72] His jet-black hair hung in loose and flowing ringlets on his naked shoulders; his necklace was made of a vast number of strings of nicely braided human hair, tied together behind, while a paraoa (an ornament made of a whale's tooth) hung pendent from it on his breast; his wrists were ornamented with bracelets formed of polished tusks of the hog, and his ankles with loose buskins, thickly set with dog's teeth, the rattle of which, during the dance, kept time with the music of the calabash drum. A beautiful yellow tapa was tastefully fastened round his loins, reaching to his knees. He began his dance in front of the musicians, and moved forward and backwards, across the area, occasionally chanting the achievements of former kings of Hawaii. The governor sat at the end of the ring, opposite to the musicians, and appeared gratified with the performance, which continued until the evening. (Vol. IV, 100-101, London, Fisher, Son & Jackson, 1831.)

NOTE BY THE AUTHOR.—At the time of Mr. Ellis' visit to Hawaii the orthography of the Hawaiian language was still in a formative stage, and it is said that his counsels had influence in shaping it. His use of r instead of l in the words hula, alaapapa, and palaoa may, therefore, be ascribed to the fact of his previous acquaintance with the dialects of southern Polynesia, in which the sound of r to a large extent substitutes that of l, and to the probability that for that reason his ear was already attuned to the prevailing southern fashion, and his judgment prepossessed in that direction.

[Page 73]


The pa-ipu, called also the kuolo, was a hula of dignified character, in which all the performers maintained the kneeling position and accompanied their songs with the solemn tones of the ipu (pl. vii), with which each one was provided. The proper handling of this drumlike instrument in concert with the cantillation of the mele made such demands upon the artist, who was both singer and instrumentalist, that only persons of the most approved skill and experience were chosen to take part in the performance of this hula.

The manner of treating the ipu in this hula differed somewhat from that employed in the ala'a-papa, being subdued and quiet in that, whereas in the pa-ipu it was at times marked with great vigor and demonstrativeness, so that in moments of excitement and for the expression of passion, fierce joy, or grief the ipu might be lifted on high and wildly brandished. It thus made good its title as the most important instrument of the Hawaiian orchestra.

In the pa-ipu, as in the hulas generally, while the actors were sometimes grouped according to sex, they were quite as often distributed indiscriminately, the place for the leader, the kumu, being the center.

The vigor that marks the literary style of the mele now given stamps it as belonging to the archaic period, which closed in the early part of the eighteenth century, that century which saw the white man make his advent in Hawaii. The poem deals apparently with an incident in one of the migrations such as took place during the period of intercourse between the North and the South Pacific. This was a time of great stir and contention, a time when there was much paddling and sailing about and canoe-fleets, often manned by warriors, traversed the great ocean in every direction. It was then that Hawaii received many colonists from the archipelagoes that lie to the southward.



Wela Kahiki, e! Wela Kahiki, e! Wela aku la Kahiki; Ua kaulu-wela ka moku; [Page 74] 5 Wela ka ulu o Hawaii; Kakala wela aku la Kahiki ia Olopana,[189] Ka'u wahi kanaka; O ka hei kapu[190] o Hana-ka-ulani,[191] Ka hei kapu a ke alii, 10 Ka hoo-mamao-lani,[192] Ke kapu o Keawe,[193] A o Keawe Ke alii holo, ho-i'a i kai, e-e!

[Footnote 189: Olopana. A celebrated king of Waipio valley, Hawaii, who had to wife the famous beauty, Luukia. Owing to misfortune, he sailed away to Kahiki, taking with him his wife and his younger brother, Moikeha, who was his puna-lua, settling in a land called Moa-ula-nui-akea. Olopana probably ended his days in his new-found home, but Moi-keha, heart-sick at the loss of Luukia's favors, came hack to Hawaii and became the progenitor of a line of distinguished men, several of whom were famous navigators. Exactly what incident in the life of Olopana is alluded to in the sixth and preceding verses, the traditions that narrate his adventures do not inform us.]

[Footnote 190: Hei kapu. An oracle; the place where the high priest kept himself while consulting the deities of the heiau. It was a small house erected on an elevated platform of stones, and there he kept himself in seclusion at such times as he sought to be the recipient of communications from the gods.]

[Footnote 191: Hana-ka-ulani. A name applied to several heiau (temples). The first one so styled, according to tradition, was built at Hana, Maui, and another one at Kaluanui, on Oahu, near the famous valley of Ka-liu-wa'a. These heiau are said to have been built by the gods in the misty past soon after landing on these shores. Was it to celebrate their escape from perils by sea and enemies on land, or was it in token of thankfulness to gods still higher than themselves?

The author's informant can not tell whether these followed the fierce, strict cult of Kane or the milder cult of Lono.]

[Footnote 192: Hoo-mamao-lani. An epithet meaning remote in the heavens, applied to an alii of very high rank.]

[Footnote 193: Keawe. This is a name that belonged, to several kings and a large family of gods—papa akua—all of which gods are said to have come from Kahiki and to have dated their origin from the Wa Po, the twilight of antiquity. Among the demigods that were called Keawe may be mentioned: (1) Keawe-huli, a prophet and soothsayer. (2) Keawe-kilo-pono, a wise and righteous one, who loved justice. (3) Keawe-hula-maemae. It was his function to maintain purity and cleanliness; he was a devouring flame that destroyed rubbish and all foulness. (4) Keawe-ula-o-ka-lani. This was the poetical appellation, given to the delicate flush of early morning. Apropos of this the Hawaiians have the following quatrain, which they consider descriptive not only of morning blush, but also of the coming in of the reign of the gods:

O Keawe-ula-i-ka-lani, O Keawe-liko-i-ka-lani, O Ke'awe-uina-poha-i-Kahiki; Hikl mai ana o Lono.[Translation]

Keawe-the-red-blush-of-dawn, Keawe-the-bud-in-the-sky, Keawe-thunder-burst-at-Kahiki: Till Lono comes in to reign.

(5) Keawe-pa-makani. It was his function to send winds from Kukulu-o-Kahiki, as well as from some other points. (6) Keawe-io-io-moa. This god inspected the ocean tides and currents, such as Au-miki and Au-ka. (7) Keawe-i-ka-liko. He took charge of flowerbuds and tender shoots, giving them a chance to develop. (8) Keawe-ulu-pu. It was his function to promote the development and fruitage of plants. (9) Keawe-lu-pua. He caused flowers to shed their petals. (10) Keawe-opala. It was his thankless task to create rubbish and litter by scattering the leaves of the trees. (11) Keawe-hulu, a magician, who could blow a feather into the air and see it at once become a bird with power to fly away. (12) Keawe-nui-ka-ua-o-Hilo, a sentinel who stood guard by night and by day to watch over all creation. (13) Keawe-pulehu. He was a thief and served as [Page 75] cook for the gods. There were gods of evil as well as of good in this set. (14) Keawe-oili. He was gifted with the power to convey and transfer evil, sickness, misfortune, and death. (15) Keawe-kaili. He was a robber. (16) Keawe-aihue. He was a thief. (17) Keuwe-mahilo. He was a beggar. He would stand round while others were preparing food, doing honest work, and plead with his eyes. In this way he often obtained a dole. (18) Keawe-puni-pua'a. He was a glutton, very greedy of pork; he was also called Keawe-ai-pua'a. (19) Keawe-inoino. He was a sloven, unclean in all his ways. (20) Keawe-ilio. The only title to renown of this superhuman creature was his inordinate fondness for the flesh of the dog. So far none of the superhuman heings mentioned seemed fitted to the role of the Keawe of the text, who was passionately fond of the sea. The author had given up in despair, when one day, on repeating his inquiry in another quarter, he was rewarded by learning of—(21) Keawe-i-na-'kai. He was a resident of the region about the southeastern point of Molokai, called Lae-ka-Ilio—Cape of the Dog. He was extravagantly fond of the ocean and allowed no weather to interfere with the indulgence of his penchant. An epithet applied to him describes his dominating passion: Keawe moe i ke kai o Kohaku, Keawe who sleeps in (or on) the sea of Kohaku. It seems probable that this was the Keawe mentioned in the twelfth and thirteenth lines of the mele.

The appellation Keawe seems to have served as a sort of Jack among the demigods of the Hawaiian pantheon, on whom was to be laid the burden of a mongrel host of virtues and vices that were not assignable to the regular orthodox deities. Somewhat in the same way do we use the name Jack as a caption, for a miscellaneous lot of functions, as when we speak of a "Jack-at-all-trades."]



(Distinct utterance)

Glowing is Kahiki, oh! Glowing is Kahiki! Lo, Kahiki is a-blaze, The whole island a-burning. 5 Scorched is thy scion, Hawaii. Kahiki shoots flame-tongues at Olopana, That hero of yours, and priest Of the oracle Hana-ka-ulani, The sacred shrine of the king— 10 He is of the upper heavens, The one inspired by Keawe, That tabu-famous Keawe, The king passion-fond of the sea.



Lau lehua punoni ula ke kai o Kona, Ke kai punoni ula i oweo ia; Wewena ula ke kai la, he kokona; Ula ia kini i ka uka o Alaea, 5 I hili ahi ula i ke kapa a ka wahine, I hoeu ia e ka ni'a, e ka hana, E ka auwai lino mai la a kehau. He hau hoomoe ka lau o ka niu, Ke oho o ka laau, lauoho loloa. 10 E loha ana i ka la i o Kailua la, i-u-a, O ke ku moena ololi a ehu O ku'u aina kai paeaea. Ea, hoea iluna o Mauna Kilohana, Na kaha poohiwi mau no he inoa. 15 Ua noa e, ua pii'a kou wahi kapu, e-e! I a'e 'a mai e ha'i.

[Page 76]




Leaf of lehua and noni-tint, the Kona sea, Iridescent saffron and red, Changeable watered red, peculiar to Kona; Red are the uplands Alaea; 5 All, 'tis the flame-red stained robes of women Much tossed by caress or desire. The weed-tangled water-way shines like a rope of pearls, Dew-pearls that droop the coco leaf, The hair of the trees, their long locks— 10 Lo, they wilt in the heat of Kailua the deep. A mat spread out narrow and gray, A coigne of land by the sea where the fisher drops hook. Now looms the mount Kilohana— Ah, ye wood-shaded heights, everlasting your fame! 15 Your tabu is gone! your holy of holies invaded! Broke down by a stranger!

The intricately twisted language of this mele is allegorical, a rope whose strands are inwrought with passion, envy, detraction, and abuse. In translating it one has to choose between the poetic verbal garb and the esoteric meaning which the bard made to lurk beneath the surface.



Kauo pu ka iwa kala-pahe'e, Ka iwa, ka manu o Kaula i ka makani. E ka manu o-u pani-wai o Lehua, O na manu kapu a Kuhai-moana, 5 Mai hele a luna o Lei-no-ai, O kolohe, o alai mai ka Unu-lau. Puni'a iluna o ka Halau-a-ola; A ola aku i ka luna o Maka-iki-olea, I ka lulu, i ka la'i o kai maio, 10 Ma ka ha'i-wa, i ka mole o Lehua la, Le-hu-a! O na lehua o Alaka'i ka'u aloha, O na lehua iluna o Ko'i-alana; Ua nonoho hooipo me ke kohe-kohe; Ua anu, maeele i ka ua noe. 15 Ua mai oe; kau a'e ka nana, laua nei, e-e, Na 'lii e o'oni mai nei, e-e!




The iwa flies heavy to nest in the brush, Its haunt on windy Ke-ula. The watch-bird, that fends off the rain from Le-hu-a— [Page 77] Bird sacred to Ku-hai, the shark-god— 5 Shrieks, "Light not on terrace of Lei-no-ai, Lest Unu-lau fiercely assail you." Storm sweeps the cliffs of the islet; A covert they seek neath the hills, In the sheltered lee of the gale, 10 The cove at the base of Le-hu-a. The shady groves there enchant them, The scarlet plumes of lehua. Love-dalliance now by the water-reeds, Till cooled and appeased by the rain-mist. 15 Pour on, thou rain, the two heads press the pillow: Lo, prince and princess stir in their sleep!

The scene of this mele is laid on one of the little bird-islands that lie to the northwest of Kauai. The iwa bird, flying heavily to his nesting place in the wiry grass (kala-pahee), symbolizes the flight of a man in his deep-laden pirogue, abducting the woman of his love. The screaming sea-birds that warn him off the island, represented as watch-guards of the shark-god Kuhai-moana (whose reef is still pointed out), figure the outcries of the parents and friends of the abducted woman.

After the first passionate outburst (Puni'a iluna o ka Halau-a-ola) things go more smoothly (ola, ...). The flight to covert from the storm, the cove at the base of Le-hu-a, the shady groves, the scarlet pompons of the lehua—the tree and the island have the same name—all these things are to be interpreted figuratively as emblems of woman's physical charms and the delights of love-dalliance.




Ku aku la Kea-au, lele ka makani mawaho, Ulu-mano, ma ke kaha o Wai-o-lono. Ua moani lehua a'e la mauka; Kani lehua iluna o Kupa-koili, 5 I ka o ia i ka lau o ka hala, Ke poo o ka hala o ke aku'i. E ku'i e, e ka uwalo. Loli ka mu'o o ka hala, A helelei ka pua, a pili ke alanui: 10 Pu ia Pana-ewa, ona-ona i ke ala, I ka nahele makai o Ka-unu-loa la. Nani ke kaunu, ke kaunu a ke alii, He puni ina'i poi na maua. Ua hala ke Kau a me ka Hoilo, 15 Mailaila mai no ka hana ino. Ino mai oe, noho malie aku no hoi au; Hopo o' ka inaina, ka wai, e-e; Wiwo au, hopohopo iho nei, e-e! [Page 78]




(In turgid style)

A storm, from the sea strikes Ke-au, Ulu-mano, sweeping across the barrens; It sniffs the fragrance of upland lehua, Turns back at Kupa-koili; 5 Sawed by the blows of the palm leaves, The groves of pandanus in lava shag; Their fruit he would string 'bout his neck; Their fruit he finds wilted and crushed, Mere rubbish to litter the road— 10 Ah, the perfume! Pana-ewa is drunk with the scent; The breath of it spreads through the groves. Vainly flares the old king's passion, Craving a sauce for his meat and mine. The summer has flown; winter has come: 15 Ah, that is the head of our troubles. Palsied are you and helpless am I; You shrink from a plunge in the water; Alas, poor me! I'm a coward.

The imagery of this mele sets forth the story of the fierce, but fruitless, love-search of a chief, who is figured by the Ulu-mano, a boisterous wind of Puna, Hawaii. The fragrance of upland lehua (moani lehua, a'e la mauka, verse 3) typifies the charms of the woman he pursues. The expression kani lehua (verse 4), literally the sudden ending of a rain-squall, signifies the man's failure to gain his object. The lover seeks to string the golden drupe of the pandanus (halo), that he may wear them as a wreath about his neck (uwalo); he is wounded by the teeth of the sword-leaves (o ia i ka lau o ka hala, verse 5). More than this, he meets powerful, concerted resistance (ke poo o ka hala o ke aku'i, verse 6), offered by the compact groves of pandanus that grow in the rough lava-shag (aku'i), typifying, no doubt, the resistance made by the friends and retainers of the woman. After all, he finds, or declares that he finds, the hala fruit he had sought to gather and to wear as a lei about his neck, to be spoiled, broken, fit only to litter the road (loli ka mu'o o ka hala, verse 8; A helelei ka'pua, a pili ke alanui, verse 9). In spite of his repulse and his vilification of the woman, his passion, still feeds on the thought of the one he has lost; her charms intoxicate his imagination, even as the perfume of the hala bloom bewitches the air of Pana-ewa (Pu ia Panaewa, ona-ona i ke ala, verse 10).

It is difficult to interpret verses 12 to 18 in harmony with the story as above given. They may be regarded as a [Page 79] commentary on the passionate episode in the life of the lover, looked at from the standpoint of old age, at a time when passion still survives but physical strength is in abeyance.

As the sugar-boiler can not extract from the stalk the last grain of sugar, so the author finds it impossible in any translation to express the full intent of these Hawaiian mele.



Aole au e hele ka li'u-la o Mana, Ia wai crape-kanaka[194] o Lima-loa;[195] A e hoopunipuni ia a'e nei ka malihini; A mai puni au: lie wai oupe na. 5 He ala-pahi ka li'u-la o Mana; Ke poloai[196] la i ke Koolau-waline.[197] Ua ulu mai ka hoaloha i Wailua, A ua kino-lau[198] Kawelo[199] mahamaha-i'[200] [Page 80] A ua aona[201] mai nei lio oiwi e. 10 He mea e wale au e noho aku nei la. Noho. O ka noho kau a ka mea waiwai; O kau ka i'a a haawi ia mai. Oli-oli au ke loaa ia oe. 15 A pela ke ahi o Ka-maile,[202] He alualu hewa a'e la ka malihini, Kukuni hewa i ka ili a kau ka uli, e; Kau ka uli a ka mea aloha, e.

[Footnote 194: Wai oupe-kanaka. Man-fooling water; the mirage.]

[Footnote 195: Lima-loa. The long-armed, the god of the mirage, who made his appearance at Mana, Kauai.]

[Footnote 196: Poloai. To converse with, to have dealings with one.]

[Footnote 197: Koolau-wahine. The sea-breeze at Mana. There is truth as well as poetry in the assertion made in this verse. The warm moist air, rising from the heated sands of Mana, did undoubtedly draw in the cool breeze from the ocean—a fruitful dalliance.]

[Footnote 198: Kino-lau. Having many (400) bodies, or metamorphoses, said of Kawelo.]

[Footnote 199: Kawelo. A sorcerer who lived in the region of Mana. His favorite metamorphosis was into the form of a shark. Even when in human form he retained the gills of a fish and had the mouth of a shark at the back of his shoulders, while to the lower part of his body were attached the tail and flukes of a shark. To conceal these monstrous appendages he wore over his shoulders a kihei of kapa and allowed himself to be seen only while in the sitting posture. He sometimes took the form of a worm, a moth, a caterpillar, or a butterfly to escape the hands of his enemies. On land he generally appeared as a man squatting, after the manner of a Hawaiian gardener while weeding his garden plot.

The cultivated lands of Kawelo lay alongside the much-traveled path to the beach where the people of the neighborhood resorted to bathe, to fish, and to swim in the ocean. He made a practice of saluting the passers-by and of asking them, "Whither are you going?" adding the caution, "Look to it that you are not swallowed head and tail by the shark; he has not breakfasted yet" (E akahele oukou o pau po'o, pau hi'u i ka mano; aohe i paina i kakahiaka o ka mano). As soon as the traveler had gone on his way to the ocean, Kawelo hastened to the sea and there assumed his shark-form. The tender flesh of children was his favorite food. The frequent utterance of the same caution, joined to the great mortality among the children and youth who resorted to the ocean at this place, caused a panic among the residents. The parents consulted a soothsayer, who surprised them with the information that the guilty one was none other than the innocent-looking farmer, Kawelo. Instructed by the soothsayer, the people made an immense net of great strength and having very fine meshes. This they spread in the ocean at the bathing place. Kawelo, when caught in the net, struggled fiendishly to break away, but in vain. According to directions, they flung the body of the monster into an enormous oven which they had heated to redness, and supplied with fresh fuel for five times ten days—elima anahulu. At the end of that time there remained only gray ashes. The prophet had commanded them that when this had been accomplished they must fill the pit of the oven with dry dirt; thus doing, the monster would never come to life. They neglected this precaution. A heavy rain flooded the country—the superhuman work of the sorcerer—and from the moistened ashes sprang into being a swarm of lesser sharks. From them have come the many species of shark that now infest our ocean.

The house which once was Kawelo's ocean residence is still pointed out, 7 fathoms deep, a structure regularly built of rocks.]

[Footnote 200: Maha-maha i'a. The gills or fins of a fish such as marked Kawelo.]

[Footnote 201: Aona. A word of doubtful meaning; according to one it means lucky. That expounder (T—— P——) says it should, or-might be, haona; he instances the phrase iwi paou, in which the word paoa has a similar, but not identical, form and means lucky bone.]

[Footnote 202: Ka-maile. A place on Kauai where prevailed the custom of throwing firebrands down the lofty precipice of Nuololo. This amusement made a fine display at night. As the fire-sticks fell they swayed and drifted in the breeze, making it difficult for one standing below to premise their course through the air and to catch one of them before it struck the ground or the water, that being one of the objects of the sport. When a visitor had accomplished this feat, he would sometimes mark his flesh with the burning stick that he might show the brand to his sweetheart as a token of his fidelity.]




I will not chase the mirage of Mana, That man-fooling mist of god Lima-loa, Which still deceives the stranger— And came nigh fooling me—the tricksy water! 5 The mirage of Mana, is a fraud; it Wantons with the witch Koolau. A friend has turned up at Wailua, Changeful Kawelo, with gills like a fish, Has power to bring luck in any queer shape. 10 As a stranger now am I living, Aye, living. You flaunt like a person of wealth, Yours the fish, till it comes to my hook. I am blest at receiving from you: 15 Like fire-sticks flung at Ka-maile— The visitor vainly chases the brand: Fool! he burns his flesh to gain, the red mark, A sign for the girl he loves, oho!



(Ai-ha'a, a he Ko'i-honua paha)

Kauhua Ku, ka Lani, i-loli ka moku; Hookohi ke kua-koko o ka Lani; He kua-koko, pu-koko i ka honua; He kna-koko kapu no ka Lani; [Page 81] 5 He ko'i ula ana a maku'i i ka ala, Hoomau ku-wa mahu ia, Ka maka o ke ahi alii e a nei. Ko mai ke keiki koko a ka Lani, Ke keiki he nuuhiwa ia Hitu-kolo, 10 O ke keiki hiapo anuenue, iloko o ka manawa, O hi ka wai nui o ka nuuhiwa a Ke-opu-o-lani, O ua alii lani alewa-lewa nei, E u-lele, e ku nei ma ka lani; O ka Lani o na mu'o-lau o Liliha, 15 Ka hakina, ka pu'e, ka maka, o Kuhi-hewa a Lola— Kalola, nana ke keiki laha-laha; Ua kela, he kela ka pakela O na pahi'a loa o ka pu likoliko i ka lani O kakoo hulu manu o o-ulu, 20 O ka hulu o-ku'i lele i ka lani, O hiapo o ka manu leina a Pokahi, O Ka-lani-opu'u hou o ka moku, O na kupuna koikoi o Keoua, o ka Lani Kui-apo-iwa.




(To be recited in bombastic style, or, it may be, distinctly)

Big with child is the Princess Ku; The whole island suffers her whimsies; The pangs of labor are on her; Labor that stains the land with blood, 5 Blood-clots of the heavenly born, To preserve and guard the royal line, The spark of king-fire now glowing: A child is he of heavenly stock, Like the darling of Hitu-kolo, 10 First womb-fruit born to love's rainbow. A bath for this child of heaven's breast, This mystical royal offspring, Who ranks with the heavenly peers, This tender bud of Liliha, 15 This atom, this parcel, this flame, In the line Kuhi-hewa of Lola— Ka-lola, who mothered a babe prodigious, For glory and splendor renowned, A scion most comely from heaven, 20 The finest down of the new-grown plume, From bird whose moult floats to heaven, Prime of the soaring birds of Pokahi, The prince, heaven-flower of the island, Ancestral sire of Ke-oua, 25 And of King Kui-apo-iwa.

[Page 82]

The heaping up of adulations, of which this mele is a capital instance, was not peculiar to Hawaiian poetry. The Roman Senate bestowed divinity on its emperors by vote; the Hawaiian bard laureate, careering on his Pegasus, thought to accomplish the same end by piling Ossa on Pelion with high-flown phrases; and every loyal subject added his contribution to the cairn that grew heavenward.

In Hawaii, as elsewhere, the times of royal debasement, of aristocratic degeneracy, of doubtful or disrupted succession, have always been the times of loudest poetic insistence on birth-rank and the occasion for the most frenzied utterance of high-sounding titles. This is a disease that has grown with the decay of monarchy.

Applying this criterion to the mele above given, it may be judged to be by no means a product wholly of the archaic period. While certain parts, say from the first to the tenth verses, inclusive, bear the mark of antiquity, the other parts do not ring clear. It seems as if some poet of comparatively modern times had revamped an old mele to suit his own ends. Of this last part two verses were so glaringly an interpolation that they were expunged from the text.

The effort to translate into pure Anglo-Saxon this vehement outpour of high-colored phrases has made heavy demands on the vocabulary and has strained the idioms of our speech well-nigh to the point of protest.

In lines 1, 2, 4, 8, 14, and 23 the word Lani means a prince or princess, a high chief or king, a heavenly one. In lines 12, 13, 18, and 20 the same word lani means the heavens, a concept in the Hawaiian mind that had some far-away approximation to the Olympus of classic Greece.


Ooe no paha ia, e ka lau o ke aloha, Oia no paha ia ke kau mai nei ka hali'a. Ke hali'a-li'a mai nei ka maka, Manao hiki mai no paha an anei. 5 Hiki mai no la ia, na wai e uwe aku? Ua pau kau la, kau ike iaia; Ka manawa oi' e ai ka manao iloko. Ua luu iho nei an i ke kai nui; Nui ka ukiuki, paio o ka naau. 10 Aone kanaka eha ole i ke aloha. A wahine e oe, kanaka e au; He mau alualu ka ha'i e lawe. Ike aku i ke kula i'a o Ka-wai-nui. Nui ka opala ai o Moku-lana. 15 Lana ka limu pae hewa o Makau-wahine. O ka wahine no oe, o ke kane no ia. Hiki mai no la ia, na wai e uwe aku? Hoi mai no la ia, a ia wai e uwe aku?

[Page 83]



Methinks it is you, leaf plucked from Love's tree, You mayhap, that stirs my affection. There's a tremulous glance of the eye, The thought she might chance yet to come: 5 But who then would greet her with song? Your day has flown, your vision of her— A time this for gnawing the heart. I've plunged just now in deep waters: Oh the strife and vexation of soul! 10 No mortal goes scathless of love. A wife thou estranged, I a husband estranged, Mere husks to be cast to the swine.[203] Look, the swarming of fish at the weir! Their feeding grounds on the reef 15 Are waving with mosses abundant. Thou art the woman, that one your man— At her coming who'll greet her with song? Her returning, who shall console?

[Footnote 203: In the original, He mau alualu ka, ha'i e lawe, literally "Some skins for another to take."]

This song almost explains itself. It is the soliloquy of a lover estranged from his mistress. Imagination is alive in eye and ear to everything that may bring tidings of her, even of her unhoped-for return. Sometimes he speaks as if addressing the woman who has gone from him, or he addresses himself, or he personifies some one who speaks to him, as in the sixth line: "Your day has flown, ..."

The memory of past vexation and anguish extorts the philosophic remark, "No mortal goes scathless of love." He gives over the past, seeks consolation in a new attachment—he dives, lu'u, into the great ocean, "deep waters," of love, at least in search of love. The old self (selves), the old love, he declares to be only alualu, empty husks.

He—it is evidently a man—sets forth the wealth of comfort, opulence, that surrounds him in his new-found peace. The scene, being laid in the land Kailua, Oahu—the place to which the enchanted tree Maka-lei[204] was carried long ago, from which time its waters abounded in fish—fish are naturally the symbol of the opulence that now bless his life. But, in spite of the new-found peace and prosperity that attend him, there is a lonely corner in his heart; the old question echoes in its vacuum, "Who'll greet her with song? who shall console?"

[Footnote 204: Maka-lei. (See note b, p. 17.)]

[Page 84]


O Ewa, aina kai ula i ka lepo, I ula i ka makani anu Moa'e, Ka manu ula i ka lau ka ai, I palahe'a ula i ke kai o Kuhi-a.

5 Mai kuhi mai oukou e, owau ke kalohe; Aohe na'u, na lakou no a pau. Aohe hewa kekahi keiki a ke kohe. Ei' a'e; oia no palm ia. I lono oukou ia wai, e, ua moe?

10 Oia kini poai o lakou la paha? Ike aku ia ka mau'u hina-hina— He hina ko'u, he aka mai ko ia la. I aka mai oe i kou la manawa le'a; A manawa ino, nui mai ka nuku,

15 Hoomokapu, hoopale mai ka maka, Hoolahui wale mai i a'u nei. E, oia paha; ae, oia no paha ia.



Ewa's lagoon is red with dirt— Dust blown by the cool Moa'e, A plumage red on the taro leaf, An ocherous tint in the bay.

5 Say not in your heart that I am the culprit. Not I, but they, are at fault. No child of the womb is to blame. There goes, likely he is the one. Who was it blabbed of the bed defiled?

10 It must have been one of that band. But look at the rank grass beat down— For my part, I tripped, the other one smiled. You smiled in your hour of pleasure; But now, when crossed, how you scold!

15 Avoiding the house, averting the eyes— You make of me a mere stranger. Yes it's probably so, he's the one.

A poem this full of local color. The plot of the story, as it may be interpreted, runs somewhat as follows: While the man of the house, presumably, is away, it would seem—fishing, perhaps, in the waters of Ewa's "shamrock lagoon"—the mistress sports with a lover. The culprit impudently defends himself with chaff and dust-throwing. The hoodlums, one of whom is himself the sinner, have been blabbing, says he. [Page 85] His accuser points to the beaten down hina-hina grass as evidence against him. At this the brazen-faced culprit parries the stroke with a humorous euphemistic description, in which he plays on the word hina, to fall. Such verbal tilting in ancient Hawaii was practically a defense against a charge of moral obliquity as decisive and legitimate as was an appeal to arms in the times of chivalry. He euphemistically speaks of the beaten herbage as the result of his having tripped and fallen, at which, says he, the woman smiled, that is she fell in with his proposals. He gives himself away; but that doesn't matter.

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