Unwritten Literature of Hawaii - The Sacred Songs of the Hula
by Nathaniel Bright Emerson
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Face now to my face; I'm smitten with cold, Soaked with the rain and benumbed.

XII—Like no a Like By permission of the Hawaiian News Co. (Ltd.) Arranged by H. BERGER [Music]

Like no a Like

1. Ua like no a like Me ka ua kani-lehua; Me he la e i mai ana, Aia ilaila ke aloha.


Ooe no ka'u i upu ai, Ku'u lei hiki ahiahi, O ke kani o na manu, I na hora o ke aumoe.

2. Maanei mai kaua, He welina pa'a i ka piko, A nau no wau i imi mai, A loaa i ke aheahe a ka makani.


[Page 169]



1. When the rain drums loud on the leaf, It makes me think of my love; It whispers into my ear, Your love, your love—she is near.


Thou art the end of my longing, The crown of evening's delight, When I hear the cock blithe crowing, In the middle watch of the night.

2. This way is the path for thee and me, A welcome warm at the end. I waited long for thy coming, And found thee in waft of the breeze.


XIII—Song, Pili Aoao By permission of the Hawaiian News Co. (Ltd.) Arranged by H. BEEGER [Music]

NOTE.—The composer of the music and the author of the mele was a Hawaiian named John Meha, of the Hawaiian Band, who died some ten years ago, at the age of 40 years.

1. O ka ponaha iho a ke ao. Ka pipi'o malie maluna, Ike oe i ka hana, mikiala, Nowelo i ka pili aoao.


Maikai ke aloha a ka ipo— Hana mao ole i ka puuwai, Houhou liilii i ka poli— Nowelo i ka pili aoao.

2. A mau ka pili'na olu pono; Huli a'e, hooheno malie, Hanu liilii nahenahe, Nowelo i ka pili aoao.


[Page 170]

The author of the mele was a Hawaiian named John Meha, who died some years ago. He was for many years a member of the Hawaiian Band and set the words to the music given below, which has since been arranged by Captain Berger.


Side by Side

1. Outspreads now the dawn, Arching itself on high— But look! a wondrous thing, A thrill at touch of the side.


Most dear to the soul is a love-touch; Its pulse stirs ever the heart And gently throbs in the breast— At thrill from the touch of the side.

2. In time awakes a new charm As you turn and gently caress; Short comes, the breath—at The thrill from the touch of the side.


The fragments of Hawaiian music that have drifted down to us no doubt remain true to the ancient type, however much they may have changed in quality. They show the characteristics that stamp all primitive music—plaintiveness to the degree almost of sadness, monotony, lack of acquaintance with the full range of intervals that make up our diatonic scale, and therefore a measurable absence of that ear-charm we call melody. These are among its deficiencies.

If, on the other hand, we set down the positive qualities by the possession of which it makes good its claim to be classed as music, we shall find that it has a firm hold on rhythm. This is indeed one of the special excellencies of Hawaiian music. Added to this, we find that it makes a limited use of such-intervals as the third, fifth, fourth, and at the same time resorts extravagantly, as if in compensation, to a fine tone-carving that divides up the tone-interval into fractions so much less than the semitone that our ears are almost indifferent to them, and are at first inclined to deny their existence. This minute division of the tone, or step, and neglect at the same time of the broader harmonic intervals, reminds one of work in which the artist charges his picture with unimportant detail, while failing in attention to the strong outlines. Among its merits we must not forget to mention a certain quality of tone-color which inheres in the Hawaiian tongue and which greatly tends to the enhancement of Hawaiian music, especially when thrown into rhythmic forms.

The first thing, then, to repeat, that will strike the auditor on listening to this primitive music will be its lack of melody. The voice goes wavering and lilting along like a canoe on a rippling ocean.

[Page 171] Then, of a sudden, it swells upward, as if lifted by some wave of emotion; and there for a time it travels with the same fluctuating movement, soon descending to its old monotone, until again moved to rise on the breast of some fresh impulse. The intervals sounded may be, as already said, a third, or a fifth, or a fourth; but the whole movement leads nowhere; it is an unfinished sentence. Yet, in spite of all these drawbacks and of this childish immaturity, the amateur and enthusiast finds himself charmed and held as if in the clutch of some Old-World spell, and this at what others will call the dreary and monotonous intoning of the savage.

In matters that concern the emotions it is rarely possible to trace with certainty the lines that lead up from effect to cause. Such is the nature of art. If we would touch the cause which lends attractiveness to Hawaiian music, we must look elsewhere than to melody. In the belief of the author the two elements that conspire for this end are rhythm and tone-color, which comes of a delicate feeling for vowel-values.

The hall-mark of Hawaiian music is rhythm, for the Hawaiians belong to that class of people who can not move hand or foot or perform any action except they do it rhythmically. Not alone in poetry and music and the dance do we find this recurring accent of pleasure, but in every action of life it seems to enter as a timekeeper and regulator, whether it be the movement of a fingerful of poi to the mouth or the swing of a kahili through the incense-laden air at the burial of a chief.

The typical Hawaiian rhythm is a measure of four beats, varied at times by a 2-rhythm, or changed by syncopation into a 3-rhythm.

These people have an emotional susceptibility and a sympathy with environment that belongs to the artistic temperament; but their feelings, though easily stirred, are not persistent and ideally centered; they readily wander away from any example or pattern. In this way may be explained their inclination to lapse from their own standard of rhythm into inexplicable syncopations.

As an instance of sympathy with environment, an experience with a hula dancer may be mentioned. Wishing to observe the movement of the dance in time with the singing of the mele, the author asked him to perform the two at one time. He made the attempt, but failed. At length, bethinking himself, he drew off his coat and bound it about his loins after the fashion of a pa-u, such as is worn by hula dancers. He at once caught inspiration, and was thus enabled to perform the double role of dancer and singer.

It has been often remarked by musical teachers who have had experience with these islanders that as singers they are prone to flat the tone and to drag the time, yet under the stimulus of emotion they show the ability to acquit themselves in these respects with great credit. The native [Page 172] inertia of their being demands the spur of excitement to keep them up to the mark. While human nature everywhere shares in this weakness, the tendency seems to be greater in the Hawaiian than in some other races of no higher intellectual and esthetic advancement.

Another quality of the Hawaiian character which reenforces this tendency is their spirit of communal sympathy. That is but another way of saying that they need the stimulus of the crowd, as well as of the occasion, even to make them keep step to the rhythm of their own music. In all of these points they are but an epitome of humanity.

Before closing this special subject, the treatment of which has grown to an unexpected length, the author feels constrained to add one more illustration of Hawaii's musical productions. The Hawaiian national hymn on its poetical side may be called the last appeal of royalty to the nation's feeling of race-pride. The music, though by a foreigner, is well suited to the words and is colored by the environment in which the composer has spent the best years of his life. The whole production seems well fitted to serve as the clarion of a people that need every help which art and imagination can offer.

XIV—Hawaii Ponoi Words by King KALAKAUA Composed by H. BERGER [Music:]

[Page 173]

[Page 174]


1. Hawai'i ponoi, Nana i kou Moi, Ka lani Ali'i, Ke Ali'i.


Makua lani, e, Kamehameha, e, Na kaua e pale, Me ka ihe.

2. Hawai'i ponoi, Nana i na 'li'i, Na pua muli kou, Na poki'i.


3. Hawai'i ponoi E ka lahui, e, O kau hana nui E ui, e.


[Page 175]


Hawaii Ponoi

1. Hawaii's very own, Look to your sovran Lord, Your chief that's heaven-born, Who is your King.


Protector, heaven-sent, Kamehameha great, To vanquish every foe, With conquering spear.

2. Men of Hawaii's land, Look to your native chiefs, Your sole surviving lords, The nation's pride.


3. Men of Hawaiian stock, My nation ever dear, With loins begirt for work, Strive with your might.

Refrain. [Page 176]


Gesture is a voiceless speech, a short-hand dramatic picture. The Hawaiians were adepts in this sort of art. Hand and foot, face and eye, and those convolutions of gray matter which are linked to the organs of speech, all worked in such harmony that, when the man spoke, he spoke not alone with his vocal organs, but all over, from head to foot, every part adding its emphasis to the utterance. Von Moltke could be reticent in six languages; the Hawaiian found it impossible to be reticent in one.

The hands of the hula dancer are ever going out in gesture, her body swaying and pivoting itself in attitudes of expression. Her whole physique is a living and moving picture of feeling, sentiment, and passion. If the range of thought is not always deep or high, it is not the fault of her art, but the limitations of her original endowment, limitations of hereditary environment, the universal limitations imposed on the translation from spirit into matter.

The art of gesture was one of the most important branches taught by the kumu. When the hula expert, the olohe, who has entered the halau as a visitor, utters the prayer (p. 47), "O Laka, give grace to the feet of Pohaku, and to her bracelets and anklets; give comeliness to the figure and skirt of Luukia. To each one give gesture and voice. O Laka, make beautiful the lei; inspire the dancers to stand before the assembly," his meaning was clear and unmistakable, and showed his high valuation of this method of expression. We are not, however, to suppose that the kumu-hula, whatever his artistic attainments, followed any set of formulated doctrines in his teaching. His science was implicit, unformulated, still enfolded in the silence of unconsciousness, wrapped like a babe in its mother's womb. To apply a scientific name to his method, it might be called inductive, for he led his pupils along the plain road of practical illustration, adding example to example, without the confusing aid of preliminary rule or abstract proposition, until his pupils had traveled over the whole ground covered by his own experience.

Each teacher went according to the light that was in him, not forgetting the instructions of his own kumu, but using them as a starting point, a basis on which to build as best he knew. There were no books, no manuals of instruction, to pass from hand to hand and thus secure uniformity of instruction. Then, again, it was a long journey from Hawaii to Kauai, or [Page 177] even from one island to another. The different islands, as a rule, were not harnessed to one another under the same political yoke; even districts of the same island were not unfrequently under the independent sway of warring chiefs; so that for long periods the separation, even the isolation, in matters of dramatic art and practice was as complete as in politics.

The method pursued by the kumu may be summarized as follows: Having labored to fix the song, the mele or oli, in the minds of his pupils, the haumana, he appointed some one to recite the words of the piece, while the class, standing with close attention to the motions of the kumu and with ears open at the same time to the words of the leader, were required to repeat the kumu's gestures in pantomime until he judged them to have arrived at a sufficient degree of perfection. That done, the class took up the double task of recitation joined to that of gesture. In his attempt to translate his concepts into physical signs the Hawaiian was favored not only by his vivid power of imagination, but by his implicit philosophy, for the Hawaiian, looked at things from a physical plane—a safe ground to stand upon—albeit he had glimpses at times far into the depths of ether. When he talked about spirit, he still had in mind a form of matter. A god was to him but an amplified human being.

It is not the purpose to attempt a scientific classification of gesture as displayed in the halau. The most that can be done will be to give a few familiar generic illustrations which are typical and representative of a large class.

The pali, the precipice, stands for any difficulty or obstacle of magnitude. The Hawaiian represents this in his dramatic, pictorial manner with the hand vertically posed on the outstretched arm, the palm of the hand looking away. If it is desired to represent this wall of obstacle as being surmounted, the hand is pushed forward, and at the same time somewhat inclined, perhaps, from its rigid perpendicularity, the action being accompanied by a series of slight lifting or waving movements as of climbing.

Another way of dramatically picturing this same concept, that of the pali as a wall of obstacle, is by holding the forearm and hand vertically posed with the palmar aspect facing the speaker. This method of expression, while perhaps bolder and more graphic than that before mentioned, seems more purely oratorical and less graceful, less subtly pictorial and elegant than the one previously described, and therefore less adapted to the hula. For it must be borne in mind that the hula demanded the subordination of strength to grace and elegance. We may at the same time be sure that the halau showed individuality in its choice of methods, that it varied its technique and manner of expression at different times and places, according to the different conception of one or another kumu. [Page 178] Progression, as in walking or traveling, is represented by means of a forward undulatory movement of the outstretched arm and hand, palm downward, in a horizontal plane. This gesture is rhythmic and beautifully pictorial. If the other hand also is made a partner in the gesture, the significance would seem to be extended, making it include, perhaps, a larger number in the traveling company. The mere extension of the arm, the back-hand advanced, would serve the purpose of indicating removal, travel, but in a manner less gracious and caressing.

To represent an open level space, as of a sand-beach or of the earth-plain, the Hawaiian very naturally extended his arms and open hands—palms downward, of course—the degree of his reaching effort being in a sense a measure of the scope intended.

To represent the act of covering or protecting oneself with clothing, the Hawaiian placed the hollow of each hand over the opposite shoulder with a sort of hugging action. But here, again, one can lay down no hard and fast rule. There was differentiation; the pictorial action might well vary according to the actor's conception of the three or more generic forms that constituted the varieties of Hawaiian dress, which were the malo of the man, the pa-u of the woman, and the decent kihei, a toga-like robe, which, like the blanket of the North American Indian, was common to both sexes. Still another gesture, a sweeping of the hands from the shoulder down toward the ground, would be used to indicate that costly feather robe, the ahuula, which was the regalia and prerogative of kings and chiefs.

The Hawaiian places his hands, palms up, edge to edge, so that the little finger of one hand touches its fellow of the other hand. By this action he means union or similarity. He turns one palm down, so that the little finger and thumb of opposite hands touch each other. The significance of the action is now wholly reversed; he now means disunion, contrariety.

To indicate death, the death of a person, the finger-tips, placed in apposition, are drawn away from each other with a sweeping gesture and at the same time lowered till the palms face the ground. In this case also we find diversity. One old man, well acquainted with hula matters, being asked to signify in pantomimic fashion "the king is sick," went through the following motions: He first pointed upward, to indicate the heaven-born one, the king; then he brought his hands to his body and threw his face into a painful grimace. To indicate the death of the long he threw his hands upward toward the sky, as if to signify a removal by flight. He admitted the accuracy of the gesture, previously described, in which the hands are moved toward the ground.

There are, of course, imitative and mimetic gestures galore, as of paddling, swimming, diving, angling, and the like, [Page 179] which one sees every day of his life and which are to be regarded as parts of that universal shorthand vocabulary of unvocalized speech that is used the world over from Naples to Honolulu, rather than stage-conventions of the halau. It will suffice to mention one motion or gesture of this sort which the author has seen used with dramatic effect. An old man was describing the action of Hiiaka (the little sister of Pele) while clearing a passage for herself and her female companion with a great slaughter of the reptilian demon-horde of ma'o that came out in swarms to oppose the progress of the goddess through their territory while she was on her way to fetch Prince Lohiau. The goddess, a delicate piece of humanity in her real self, made short work of the little devils who covered the earth and filled the air. Seizing one after another, she bit its life out, or swallowed it as if it had been a shrimp. The old man represented the action most vividly: pressing his thumb, forefinger, and middle finger into a cone, he brought them quickly to his mouth, while he snapped his jaws together like a dog seizing a morsel, an action that pictured the story better than any words.

It might seem at first blush that facial expression, important as it is, owing to its short range of effectiveness, should hardly be put in the same category with what may be called the major stage-gestures that were in vogue in the halau. But such a judgment would certainly be mistaken. The Greek use of masks on the stage for their "carrying power" testified to their valuation of the countenance as a semaphore of emotion; at the same time their resort to this artifice was an implicit recognition of the desirability of bringing the window of the soul nearer to the audience. The Hawaiians, though they made no use of masks in the halau, valued facial expression no less than the Greeks. The means for the study of this division of the subject, from the nature of the case, is somewhat restricted and the pursuit of illustrations makes it necessary to go outside of the halau.

The Hawaiian language was one of hospitality and invitation. The expression mai, or komo mai, this way, or come in, was the most common of salutations. The Hawaiian sat down to meat before an open door; he ate his food in the sight of all men, and it was only one who dared being denounced as a churl who would fail to invite with word and gesture the passer-by to come in and share with him. This gesture might be a sweeping, downward, or sidewise motion of the hand in which the palm faced and drew toward the speaker. This seems to have been the usual form when the two parties were near to each other; if they were separated by any considerable distance, the fingers would perhaps more likely be turned upward, thus making the signal more distinctly visible and at the same time more emphatic. [Page 180] In the expression of unvoiced assent and dissent the Hawaiian practised refinements that went beyond our ordinary conventions. To give assent he did not find it necessary so much as to nod the head; a lifting of the eyebrows sufficed. On the other hand, the expression of dissent was no less simple as well as decisive, being attained by a mere grimace of the nose. This manner of indicating dissent was not, perhaps, without some admixture of disdain or even scorn; but that feeling, if predominant, would call for a reenforcement of the gesture by some additional token, such as a pouting of the lips accompanied by an upward toss of the chin. A more impersonal and coldly businesslike way of manifesting a negative was by an outward sweep of the hand, the back of the hand being turned to the applicant. Such a gesture, when addressed to a huckster or a beggar—a rare bird, by the way, in old Hawaii—was accepted as final.

There was another method of signifying a most emphatic, even contemptuous, no. In this the tongue is protruded and allowed to hang down flat and wide like the flaming banner of a panting hound. A friend states that the Maoris made great use of gestures with the tongue in their dances, especially in the war-dance, sometimes letting it hang down broad, flat, and long, directly in front, sometimes curving it to right or left, and sometimes stuffing it into the hollow of the cheek and puffing out one side of the face. This manner—these methods it might be said—of facial expression, so far as observed and so far as can be learned, were chiefly of feminine practice. The very last gesture—that of the protruded tongue—is not mentioned as one likely to be employed on the stage in the halau, certainly not in the performance of what one would call the serious hulas. But it might well have been employed in the hula ki'i (see p. 91), which was devoted, as we have seen, to the portrayal of the lighter and more comic aspects of daily life.

It is somewhat difficult to interpret the meaning of the various attitudes and movements of the feet and legs. Their remoteness from the centers of emotional control, their detachment from the vortices of excitement, and their seeming restriction to mechanical functions make them seem but slightly sympathetic with those tides of emotion that speed through the vital parts of the frame. But, though somewhat aloof from, they are still under the dominion of, the same emotional laws that govern the more central parts.

Man is all sympathy one part with another; For head with, heart hath joyful amity, And both with moon and tides.

The illustrations brought to illuminate this division of the subject will necessarily be of the most general application and will seem to belong rather to the domain of oratory than [Page 181] to that of dramatic or stage expression, by which is meant expression fitted for the purposes of the halau.

To begin with a general proposition, the attitude of the feet and legs must be sympathetic with that of the other parts of the body. When standing squarely on both feet and looking directly forward, the action may be called noncommittal, general; but if the address is specialized and directed to a part of the audience, or if attention is called to some particular region, the face will naturally turn in that direction. To attain this end, while the leg and arm of the corresponding side will be drawn back, the leg and arm of the opposite side will be advanced, thus causing the speaker to face the point of address. If the speaker or the actor addresses himself, then, to persons, or to an object, on his right, the left leg will be the one more in advance and the left arm will be the one on which the burden of gesture will fall, and vice versa.

It would be a mistake to suppose that every motion or gesture displayed by the actors on the stage of the halau was significant of a purpose. To do that would be to ascribe to them a flawless perfection and strength that no body of artists have ever attained. Many of their gestures, like the rhetoric of a popular orator, were mere flourishes and ornaments. With a language so full of seemingly superfluous parts, it could not well be otherwise than that their rhetoric of gesture should be overloaded with flourishes.

The whole subject of gesture, including facial expression, is worthy of profound study, for it is linked to the basic elements of psychology. The illustrations adduced touch only the skirts of the subject; but they must suffice. An exhaustive analysis, the author believes, would show an intimate and causal relation between these facial expressions and the muscular movements that are the necessary accompaniments or resultants of actual speech. To illustrate, the pronunciation of the Hawaiian word ae (pronounced like our aye), meaning "yes," involves the opening of the mouth to its full extent; and this action, when accomplished, results in a sympathetic lifting of the eyebrows. It is this ultimate and completing part of the action which the Hawaiian woman adopts as her semaphore of assent.

One of the puzzling things about gesture comes when we try to think of it as a science rooted in psychology. It is then we discover variations presented by different peoples in different lands, which force us to the conviction that in only a part of its domain does it base itself on the strict principles of psychology. Gesture, like language, seems to be made up in good measure of an opportunist growth that springs up in answer to man's varying needs and conditions. The writer hopes he will not be charged with begging the question in suggesting that another element which we must [Page 182] reckon with as influential in fashioning and stereotyping gesture is tradition and convention. To illustrate—the actor who took the role of Lord Dundreary in the first performance of the play of the same name accidentally made a fantastic misstep while crossing the stage. The audience was amused, and the actor, quick to avail himself of any open door, followed the lead thus hinted at. The result is that he won great applause and gave birth to a mannerism which has well-nigh become a stage convention. [Page 183]


The hula pa-hua was a dance of the classical times that has long been obsolete. Its last exhibition, so far as ascertained, was in the year 1846, on the island of Oahu. In this performance both the olapa and the hoopaa cantillated the mele, while the latter squatted on the floor. Each one was armed with a sharp stick of wood fashioned like a javelin, or a Hawaiian spade, the o-o; and with this he made motions, thrusting to right and to left; whether in imitation of the motions of a soldier or of a farmer could not be learned. The gestures of these actors were in perfect time with the rhythm of the mele.

The dance-movements performed by the olapa, as the author has heard them described, were peculiar, not an actual rotation, but a sort of half-turn to one side and then to the other, an advance followed by a retreat. While doing this the olapa, who were in two divisions, marked the time of the movement by clinking together two pebbles which they held in each hand.

The use of the pebbles after the manner of castanets, the division of the dancers into two sets, their advance and retreat toward and away from each other are all suggestive of the Spanish bolero or fandango. The resemblance went deeper than the surface. The prime motive of the song, the mele, also is the same, love in its different phases even to its most frenzied manifestations.


Pa au i ka ihee a Kane;[326] Nana ka maka ia Koolau;[327] Kau ka opua[327] ma ka moana. Lu'u a e-a, lu'u a e-a,[329] 5 Hiki i Wai-ko-loa. Aole loa ke kula I ka pai-lani a Kane.[330] Ke kane[331] ia no hoi ia Ka tula pe-pe'e 10 A ka hale ku'i. Ku'i oe a lono Kahiki-nui; Hoolei ia iluna o Kaua-loa, Ka lihilihi pua o ka makemake. Mao ole ke Koolau i ka lihilihi. 13 He lihi kuleana ia no Puna. O ko'u puni no ia o ka ike maka. Aohe makamaka o ka hale, ua hele oe; Nawai la au e hookipa I keia mahaoi ana mai nei o ka loa? 20 He makemake no au e ike maka; I hookahi no po, le'a ke kaunu, Ka hana mao ole a ke anu. He anu mawaho, a he hu'i ma-loko. A ilaila laua la, la'i pono iho. 25 Ua pono oe o kaua, ua alu ka moena; Ka hana mau a ka Inu-wai; Mao ole i ka nui kino. Ku'u kino keia mauna ia ha'i. E Ku, e hoolei la! 30 A ua noa!

[Footnote 327: The a Kane. The spear of Kane. What else can this he than that old enemy to man's peace and comfort, love, passion?]

[Footnote 328: Koolau. The name applied to the weather side of an island; the direction in which one would naturally turn first to judge of the weather.]

[Footnote 329: Opua. A bunch of clouds; a cloud-omen; a heavenly phenomenon; a portent. In this case it probably means a lover. The present translation, is founded on this view.]

[Footnote 330: Lu'u a e-a. To dive and then come up to take breath, as one does in swimming out to sea against the incoming breakers, or as one might do in escaping from a pursuer, or in avoiding detection, after the manner of a loon.]

[Footnote 331: A Kane and Ke kane. Instances of word-repetition, previously mentioned as a fashion much used in Hawaiian poetry. See instances also of the same figure in lines 13 and 14 and in lines 16 and 17.] [Page 184]



I am smitten with spear of Kane; Mine eyes with longing scan Koolau; Behold the love-omen hang o'er the sea. I dive and come up, dive and come up; 5 Thus I reach my goal Wai-ko-loa. The width of plain is a trifle To the joyful spirit of Kane. Aye, a husband, and patron is he To the dance of the bended knee, 10 In the hall of the stamping feet. Stamp, till the echo reaches Kahiki; Still pluck you a wreath by the way To crown your fondest ambition; A wreath not marred by the salt wind 15 That plays with the skirts of Puna. I long to look eye into eye. Friendless the house, you away; Pray who will receive, who welcome, This guest uninvited from far? 20 I long for one (soul-deep) gaze, One night of precious communion; Such a flower wilts not in the cold— Cold without, a tumult within. What bliss, if we two were together! 25 You are the blest of us twain; The mat bends under your form. The thirsty wind, it still rages, [Page 185] Appeased not with her whole body. My body is pledged to another. 30 Crown it, Ku, crown it. Now the service is free!

Some parts of this mele, which is a love-song, have defied the author's most strenuous efforts to penetrate their deeper meaning. No Hawaiian consulted has made a pretense of understanding it wholly. The Philistines of the middle of the nineteenth century, into whose hands it fell, have not helped matters by the emendations and interpolations with which they slyly interlarded the text, as if to set before us in a strong light the stigmata of degeneracy from which they were suffering.

The author has discarded from the text two verses which followed verse 28:

Hai'na ia mai ka puana: Ka wai anapa i ke kala.


Declare to me now the riddle: The waters that flash on the plain.

The author has refrained from casting out the last two verses, though in his judgment they are entirely out of place and were not in the mele originally.

[Page 186]


The Hawaiian drama could lay hold of no worthier theme than that offered by the story of Pele. In this epic we find the natural and the supernatural, the everyday events of nature and the sublime phenomena of nature's wonderland, so interwoven as to make a story rich in strong human and deific coloring. It is true that the genius of the Hawaiian was not equal to the task of assembling the dissevered parts and of combining into artistic unity the materials his own imagination had spun. This very fact, however, brings us so much nearer to the inner workshop of the Hawaiian mind.

The story of Pele is so long and complicated that only a brief abstract of it can be offered now:

Pele, the goddess of the volcano, in her dreams and wanderings in spirit-form, met and loved the handsome Prince Lohiau. She would not be satisfied with mere spiritual intercourse; she demanded the sacrament of bodily presence. Who should be the ambassador to bring the youth from his distant home on Kauai? She begged her grown-up sisters to attempt the task. They foresaw the peril and declined the thankless undertaking. Hiiaka, the youngest and most affectionate, accepted the mission; but, knowing her sister's evil temper, strove to obtain from Pele a guaranty that her own forests and the life of her bosom friend Hopoe should be safeguarded during her absence.

Hiiaka was accompanied by Wahine-oma'o—the woman in green—a woman as beautiful as herself. After many adventures they arrived at Haena and found Lohiau dead and in his sepulchre, a sacrifice to the jealousy of Pele. They entered the cave, and after ten days of prayer and incantation Hiiaka had the satisfaction of seeing the body of Lohiau warmed and animated by the reentrance of the spirit; and the company, now of three, soon started on the return to Kilauea.

The time consumed by Hiiaka in her going and doing and returning had been so long that Pele was moved to unreasonable jealousy and, regardless of her promise to her faithful sister, she devastated with fire the forest parks of Hiiaka and sacrificed the life of Hiiaka's bosom friend, the innocent and beautiful Hopoe.

Hiiaka and Lohiau, on their arrival at Kilauea, seated themselves on its ferny brink, and there, in the open view of Pele's court, Hiiaka, in resentment at the broken faith of her sister and in defiance of her power, invited and received [Page 187] from Lohiau the kisses and dalliance which up to that time she had repelled. Pele, in a frenzy of passion, overwhelmed her errant lover, Lohiau, with fire, turned his body into a pillar of rock, and convulsed earth and sea. Only through the intervention of the benevolent peacemaking god Kane was the order of the world saved from utter ruin.

The ancient Hawaiians naturally regarded the Pele hula with special reverence by reason of its mythological importance, and they selected it for performance on occasions of gravity as a means of honoring the kings and alii of the land. They would have considered its presentation on common occasions, or in a spirit of levity, as a great impropriety.

In ancient times the performance of the hula Pele, like that of all other plays, was prefaced with prayer and sacrifice. The offering customarily used in the service of this hula consisted of salt crystals and of luau made from the delicate unrolled taro leaf. This was the gift demanded of every pupil seeking admission to the school of the hula, being looked upon as an offering specially acceptable to Pele, the patron of this hula. In the performance of the sacrifice teacher and pupil approached and stood reverently before the kuahu while the former recited a mele, which was a prayer to the goddess. The pupil ate the luau, the teacher placed the package of salt on the altar, and the service was complete.

Both olapa and hoopaa took part in the performance of this hula. There was little or no moving about, but the olapa did at times sink down to a kneeling position. The performance was without instrumental accompaniment, but with abundant appropriate gestures. The subjects treated of were of such dignity and interest as to require no extraneous embellishment.

Perusal of the mele which follows will show that the story of Pele dated back of her arrival in this group:

He Oli-O ka mele mua keia o ka, hula Pele

Mai Kahiki ka wahine, o Pele, Mai ka aina i Pola-pola, Mai ka punohu ula a Kane, Mai ke ao lalapa i ka lani, 5 Mai ka opua lapa i Kahiki.

Lapa-ku i Hawaii ka wahine, o Pele; Kalai i ka wa'a Houna-i-a-kea, Kou wa'a, e Ka-moho-alii. I apo'a ka moku i pa'a; 10 Ua hoa ka wa'a o ke Akua,

Ka wa'a o Kane-kalai-honua. Holo mai ke au, a'ea'e Pele-honua-mea; A'ea'e ka Lani, ai-puni'a i ka moku; A'ea'e Kini o ke Akua, [Page 188] 15 Noho a'e o Malau. Ua ka ia ka liu o ka wa'a. Ia wai ka hope, ka uli o ka wa'a, e ne hoa 'lii? Ia Pele-honua-mea. A'ea'e kai hoe oluna o ka wa'a.

20 O Ku ma, laua o Lono, Noho i ka honua aina, Kau aku i hoolewa moku. Hiiaka, noiau, he akua, Ku ae, hele a noho i ka hale o Pele.

25 Huahua'i Kahiki, lapa uila, e Pele. E hua'i, e!


A Song—The first song of the hula Pele

From Kahiki came the woman, Pele, From the land of Pola-pola, From the red cloud of Kane, Cloud blazing in the heavens, 5 Fiery cloud-pile in Kahiki.

Eager desire for Hawaii seized the woman, Pele; She carved the canoe, Honna-i-a-kea, Your canoe, O Ka-moho-alii. They push the work on the craft to completion. 10 The lashings of the god's canoe are done, The canoe of Kane, the world-maker.

The tides swirl, Pele-honua-mea o'ermounts them; The god rides the waves, sails about the island; The host of little gods ride the billows; 15 Malau takes his seat; One bales out the bilge of the craft. Who shall sit astern, be steersman, O, princes? Pele of the yellow earth. The splash of the paddles dashes o'er the canoe.

20 Ku and his fellow, Lono, Disembark on solid land; They alight on a shoal. Hiiaka, the wise one, a god, Stands up, goes to stay at the house of Pele.

25 Lo, an eruption in Kahiki! A flashing of lightning, O Pele! Belch forth, O Pele!

Tradition has it that Pele was expelled from Kahiki by her brothers because of insubordination, disobedience, and disrespect to their mother, Honua-mea, sacred land. (If Pele in Kahiki conducted herself as she has done in Hawaii, rending and scorching the bosom of mother earth—Honua-Mea—it is not to be wondered that her brothers were anxious to get rid of her.) She voyaged north. Her [Page 189] first stop was at the little island of Ka-ula, belonging to the Hawaiian group. She tunneled into the earth, but the ocean poured in and put a stop to her work. She had the same experience on Lehua, on Kiihau, and on the large island of Kauai. She then moved on to Oahu, hoping for better results; but though she tried both sides of the island, first mount Ka-ala—the fragrant—and then Konahuanui, she still found the conditions unsatisfactory. She passed on to Molokai, thence to Lanai, and to West Maui, and East Maui, at which last place she dug the immense pit of Hale-a-ka-la; but everywhere she was unsuccessful. Still journeying east and south, she crossed the wide Ale-nui-haha channel and came to Hawaii, and, after exploring in all directions, she was satisfied to make her home at Kilauea. Here is (ka piko o ka honua) the navel of the earth. Apropos of this effort of Pele to make a fire-pit for herself, see the song for the hula kuolo (p. 86), "A pit lies (far) to the east."


A Kauai, a ke olewa [332] iluna, Ka pua lana i kai o Wailua; Nana mai Pele ilaila; E waiho aku ana o Aim.[333] 5 Aloha i ka wai niu o ka aina; E ala mai ana mokihana, Wai auau o Hiiaka. Hoo-paapaa Pele ilaila; Aohe Kau [334] e ulu ai. 10 Keehi aku Pele i ka ale kua-loloa,

He onohi no Pele, ka oaka o ka lani, la. Eli-eli, kau mai!



To Kauai, lifted in ether, A floating flower at sea off Wailua— That way Pele turns her gaze, She's bidding adieu to Oahu, 5 Loved land of new wine of the palm. 5 There comes a perfumed waft—mokihana— The bath of the maid Hiiaka. Scene it was once of Pele's contention, Put by for future attention. 10 Her foot now spurns the long-backed wave; 10 The phosphor burns like Pele's eye, Or a meteor-flash in the sky. Finished the prayer, enter, possess!

[Footnote 332: Olewa. Said to be the name of a wooded region high up on the mountain of Kauai. It is here treated as if it meant the heavens or the blue ether. Its origin is the same with the word lewa, the upper regions of the air.]

[Footnote 333: O Ahu. In this instance the article still finds itself disunited from its substantive. To-day we have Oahu and Ola'a.]

[Footnote 334: Kau, The summer; time of warm weather; the growing season.] [Page 190] The incidents and allusions in this mele belong to the story of Pele's journey in search of Lohiau, the lover she met in her dreams, and describe her as about to take flight from Oahu to Kauai (verse 4).

Hiiaka's bath, Wai auau o Hiiaka (verse 7), which was the subject of Pele's contention (verse 8), was a spring of water which Pele had planted at Huleia on her arrival from Kahiki. The ones with whom Pele had the contention were Kukui-lau-manienie and Kukui-lauhanahana, the daughters of Lima-loa, the god of the mirage. These two women lived at Huleia near the spring. Kamapua'a, the swinegod, their accepted lover, had taken the liberty to remove the spring from the rocky bed where Pele had planted it to a neighboring hill. Pele was offended and demanded of the two women:

"Where is my spring of water?"

"Where, indeed, is your spring? You belong to Hawaii. What have you to do with any spring on Kauai?" was their answer.

"I planted a clean spring here on this rock," said Pele.

"You have no water here," they insisted; "your springs are on Hawaii."

"If I were not going in search of my husband Lohiau," said Pele, "I would set that spring back again in its old place."

"You haven't the power to do that," said they. "The son of Kahiki-ula (Kama-puaa) moved it over there, and you can't undo his action."

The eye of Pele, He onohi no Pele (verse 11), is the phosphorescence which Pele's footfall stirs to activity in the ocean.

The formal ending of this mele, Elieli, kau mai, is often found at the close of a mele in the hula Pele, and marks it as to all intents and purposes a prayer.

E waiho aku ana, o Ahu (verse 4). This is an instance of the separation of the article o from the substantive Ahu, to which it becomes joined to form the proper name of the island now called Oahu.


Ke amo la ke ko'i ke akua la i-uka; Haki nu'a-nu'a mai ka nalu mai Kahiki, Po-po'i aku la i ke alo o Kilauea.[335] Kanaka hea i ka lakou puaa kanu; 5 He wahine kui lei lehua i uka o Olaa, Ku'u moku lehua i ke alo o He-eia. O Kuku-ena[336] wahine, Komo i ka lau-ki, [Page 191] A'e-a'e a noho. 10 Eia makou, kou lau kaula la. Eli-eli, kau mai!

[Footnote 335: The figure in the second and third verses, of waves from Kahiki (nalu mai Kahiki) beating against the front of Kilauea (Po-po'i aku la i ke alo o Kilauea), seems to picture the trampling of the multitude splashing the mire as if it were, waves of ocean.]

[Footnote 336: Kukuena. There is some uncertainty as to who this character was; probably the same as Haumea, the mother of Pele.]



They bear the god's ax up the mountain; Trampling the mire, like waves from Kahiki That beat on the front of Kilauea. The people with offerings lift up a prayer; 5 A woman strings wreaths in Olaa— Lehua grove mine bord'ring He-eia. And now Kukuena, mother god, Covers her loins with a pa-u of ti leaf; She mounts the altar; she sits. 10 Behold us, your conclave of priests. Enter in, possess us!

This has the marks of a Hawaiian prayer, and as such it is said to have been used in old times by canoe-builders when going up into the mountains in search of timber. Or it may have been recited by the priests and people who went up to fell the lehua tree from which to carve the Makahiki[337] idol; or, again, may it possibly have been recited by the company of hula folk who climbed the mountain in search of a tree to be set up in the halau as a representation of the god whom they wished to honor? This is a question the author can not settle. That it was used by hula folk is indisputable, but that would not preclude its use for other purposes.


Ku i Wailua ka pou hale[338] Ka ipu hoolono i ka uwalo, Ka wawa nui, e Ulupo. Aole uwalo mai, e. 5 Aloha nui o Ikuwa, Mahoena. Ke lele la ka makawao o ka hinalo. Aia i Mana ka oka'i o ka ua o Eleao; Ke holu la ka a'ahu o Ka-u [339] i ka makani; Ke puhi a'e la ka ale kumupali o Ka-u, Honuapo; 10 Ke hakoko ka niu o Paiaha'a i ka makani. Uki-uki oukou: Ke lele la ke kai; Lele iao,[340] lele! O ka makani Koolau-wahine, [Page 192] 15 O ka Moa'e-ku. Lele ua, lele kawa! [341] Lele aku, lele mai! Lele o-o,[342] o-o lele; [343] Lele opuhi,[344] lele; 20 Lele o Kauna,[345] kaha oe. E Hiiaka e, ku!

[Footnote 337: For an account of the Makahiki idol see Hawaiian Antiquities, p. 189, by David Malo; translated by N.B. Emerson, A.M., M.D., Honolulu, Hawaiian Gazette Company (Limited), 1903.]

[Footnote 338: Pou hele. The main post of a house, which is here intended, was the pou-hana; it was regarded with a superstitious reverence.]

[Footnote 339: A'hu o Ka-u. A reference, doubtless, to the long grass that once covered Ka-u.]

[Footnote 340: I-ao. A small fish that took short flights in the air.]

[Footnote 341: Lele kawa. To jump in sport from a height into the water.]

[Footnote 342: Lele o-o. To leap feet first into the water.]

[Footnote 343: O-o lele. To dive head first into the water.]

[Footnote 344: Lele opuhi. The same as pahi'a, to leap obliquely into the water from a height, bending oneself so that the feet come first to the surface.]

[Footnote 345: Kauna. A woman of Ka-u celebrated for her skill in the hula, also the name of a cape that reaches out into the stormy ocean.]



At Wailua stands the main house-post; This oracle harks to wild voices, Tumult and clamor, O Ulu-po; It utters no voice to entreaty. 5 Alas for the prophet that's dumb! But there drifts the incense of hala. Mana sees the rain-whirl of Eleao. The robe of Ka-u sways in the wind, That dashes the waves 'gainst the sea-wall, 10 At Honu-apo, windy Ka-u; The Pai-ha'a palms strive with the gale. Such weather is grievous to you: The sea-scud is flying. My little i-ao, O fly 15 With the breeze Koolau! Fly with the Moa'e-ku! Look at the rain-mist fly! Leap with the cataract, leap! Plunge, now here, now there! 20 Feet foremost, head foremost; Leap with a glance and a glide! Kauna, opens the dance; you win. Rise, Hiiaka, arise!

The meaning of this mele centers about a phenomenon that is said to have been observed at Ka-ipu-ha'a, near Wailua, on Kauai. To one standing on a knoll near the two cliffs Ikuwa and Mahoena (verse 5) there came, it is said, an echo from the murmur and clamor of the ocean and the moan of the wind, a confused mingling of nature's voices. The listener, however, got no echoing answer to his own call.

The mele does not stick to the unities as we understand them. The poets of old Hawaii felt at liberty to run to the ends of their earth; and the auditor must allow his imagination to be transported suddenly from one island to another; in this [Page 193] case, first from Wailua to Mana on the same island, where he is shown the procession of whirling rain clouds of Eleao (verse 7). Thence the poet carries him to Honuapo, Hawaii, and shows him the waves dashing against the ocean-walls and the clashing of the palm-fronds of Paiaha'a in the wind.

The scene shifts back to Kauai, and one stands with the poet looking down on a piece of ocean where the people are wont to disport themselves. (Maka-iwa, not far from Ka-ipu-ha'a, is said to be such a place.) Verses 12 to 19 in the Hawaiian (13 to 21 in the translation) describe the spirited scene.

It is somewhat difficult to determine whether the Kauna mentioned in the next poem is the name of the woman or of the stormy cape. In the mind of a Hawaiian poet the inanimate and the animate are often tied so closely together in thought and in speech as to make it hard to decide which is intended.


Ike ia Kauna-wahine, Makani Ka-u, He umauma i pa ia e ka Moa'e, E ka makani o-maka o Unulau. Lau ka wahine kaili-pua o Paia, 5 Alualu puhala o ka Milo-pae-kanaka, e-e-e-e! He kanaka ke koa no ka ehu ahiahi, O ia nei ko ka ehu kakahiaka— O maua no, me ka makua o makou. Ua ike 'a!



Behold Kauna, that sprite of windy Ka-u, Whose bosom is slapped by the Moa'e-ku, And that eye-smiting wind Unulau— Women by hundreds filch the bloom 5 Of Paia, hunt fruit of the hala, a-ha! That one was the gallant, at evening, This one the hero of love, in the morning— 'Twas our guardian I had for companion. Now you see it, a-ha!

This mele, based on a story of amorous rivalry, relates to a contest which arose between two young women of rank regarding the favors of that famous warrior and general of Kamehameha, Kalaimoku, whom the successful intrigante described as ka makua o makou (verse 8), our father, i.e., our guardian. The point of view is that of the victorious intrigante, and in speaking of her defeated rival she uses the ironical language of the sixth verse, He kanaka ke koa no ka ehu ahiahi meaning that her opponent's chance of success faded with the evening twilight, whereas her own success was crowned with [Page 194] the glow of morning, O ia nei ko ka ehu kakahiaka (verse 7). The epithet kanaka hints ironically that her rival is of lower rank than herself, though in reality the rank of her rival may have been superior to her own.

The language, as pointed out by the author's informant, is marked with an elegance that stamps it as the product of a courtly circle.


E oe mauna i ka ohu, Kaha, ka leo o ka ohi'a; Auwe! make au i ke ahi a mau A ka luahine[346] moe nana, 5 A papa enaena, wai hau, A wa'a kau-hi.[347] Haila pepe[348] mua me pepe waena, O pepe ka muimui: O kiele[348] i na ulu[348] 10 Ka makaha kai kea O Niheu[349] kolohe; Ka makaha kai kea! Eli-eli, kau mai.



Ho! mountain of vapor-puffs, Now groans the mountain-apple tree. Alas! I burn in this deathless flame, That is fed by the woman who snores 5 On a lava plate, now hot, now cold; Now 'tis a canoe full-rigged for sea; There are seats at the bow, amidships, abaft; Baggage and men—all is aboard.

And now the powerful thrust of the paddle, [Page 195] 10 Making mighty swirl of wat'ry yeast, As of Niheu, the mischief-maker— A mighty swirl of the yeasty wave. In heavea's name, come aboard!

[Footnote 346: Pele is often spoken of as ka luahine, the old woman; but she frequently used her power of transformation to appear as a young woman of alluring beauty.]

[Footnote 347: Lava poured out in plates and folds and coils resembles many diverse things, among others the canoe, wa'a here characterized as complete in its appointments and ready for launching, kauhi. The words are subtly intended, no doubt, to convey the thought of Pele's readiness to launch on the voyage of matrimony.]

[Footnote 348: Pepe, a seat; kiele, to paddle; and ulu, a shortened form of the old word oulu, meaning a paddle, are archaisms now obsolete.]

[Footnote 349: Niheu. One of the mythological heroes of an old-time adventure, in which his elder brother Kana, who had the form of a long rope, played the principal part. This one enterprise of their life in which they joined forces was for the rescue of their mother, Hina, who had been kidnaped by a marauding chief and carried from her home in Hilo to the bold headland of Haupu, Molokai. Niheu is generally stigmatized as kolohe (verse 11), mischievous, for no other reason apparently than that he was an active spirit, full of courage, given to adventure and heaven-defying audacities, such as put the Polynesian Mawi and the Greek Prometheus in bad odor with the gods of their times. One of these offensive actions was Niheu's theft of a certain ulu, breadfruit, which one of the gods rolled with a noise like that of thunder in the underground caverns of the southern regions of the world. Niheu is represented as a great sport, an athlete, skilled in all the games of his people. The worst that could be said of him was that he had small regard for other people's rights and that he was slow to pay his debts of honor.]

After the death of Lohiau, his best friend, Paoa, came before Pele determined to invite death by pouring out the vials of his wrath on the head of the goddess. The sisters of Pele sought to avert the impending tragedy and persuaded him to soften his language and to forego mere abuse. Paoa, a consummate actor, by his dancing, which has been perpetuated in the hula Pele, and by his skillfully-worded prayer-songs, one of which is given above, not only appeased Pele, but won her.

The piece next appearing is also a song that was a prayer, and seems to have been uttered by the same mouth that, groaned forth the one given above.

It does not seem necessary to take the language of the mele literally. The sufferings that the person in the mele describes in the first person, it seems to the author, may be those of his friend Lohiau; and the first person is used for literary effect.


Aole e mao ka ohu: Auwe! make au i ke ahi a mau A ka wahine moe nana, A papa ena-ena, 5 A wa'a kau-hi. Ilaila pepe mua me pepe waena, O pepe ka mu'imu'i, O lei'na kiele, Kau-meli-eli: [351] 10 Ka maka kakahi kea O Niheu kolohe— Ka maka kaha-kai kea. Eli-eli, kau mai!



Alas, there's no stay to the smoke; I must die mid the quenchless flame— Deed of the hag who snores in her sleep, Bedded on lava plate oven-hot. 5 Now it takes the shape of canoe; [Page 196] Seats at the bow and amidships, And the steersman sitting astern; Their stroke stirs the ocean to foam— The myth-craft, Kau-meli-eli! 10 Now look, the white gleam of an eye— It is Niheu, the turbulent one— An eye like the white sandy shore. Amen, possess me!

[Footnote 350: The remarks on pp. 194 and 195 regarding the mele on p. 194 are mostly applicable to this mele.]

[Footnote 351: Kau-meli-eli. The name of the double canoe which brought a company of the gods from the lands of the South—Kukulu o Kahiki—to Hawaii. Hawaiian myths refer to several migrations of the gods to Hawaii; one of them is that described in the mele given on p. 187, the first mele in this chapter.]

The mele now to be given has the form of a serenade. Etiquette forbade anyone to wake the king by rude touch, but it was permissible for a near relative to touch his feet. When the exigencies of business made it necessary for a messenger, a herald, or a courtier to disturb the sleeping monarch, he took his station at the king's feet and recited a serenade such as this:

Mele Hoala (no ka Hula Pele)

E ala, e Kahiki-ku;[352] E ala, e Kahiki-moe; [352] E ala, e ke apapa nu'u;[353] E ala, e ke apapa lani.[353] 5 Eia ka hoala nou, e ka lani[354] la, e-e! E ala oe!

E ala, ua ao, ua malamalama. Aia o Kape'a ma,[355] la, i-luna; Ua hiki mai ka maka o Unulau; [356] [Page 197] 10 Ke hoolale mai la ke kupa holowa'a o Ukumehame,[357] Ka lae makaui kaohi-wa'a o Papawai,[358] Ka lae makani o'Anahenahe la, e-e! E ala oe!

E ala, ua ao, ua malamalama; 15 Ke o a'e la ke kukuna o ka La i lea ili o ke kai; Ke hahai a'e la, e like me Kumukahi [359] E hoaikane ana me Makanoni; Ka papa o Apua, ua lohi i ka La. E ala oe!

20 E ala, ua ao, ua malamalama; Ke kau aku la ka La i Kawaihoa: Ke kolii aku la ka La i ka ili o ke kai; Ke anai mai la ka iwa auai-maka o Lei-no-ai, I ka lima o Maka-iki-olea, 25 I ka poll wale o Leliua la. E ala oe!

[Footnote 352: Hawaiians conceived of the dome of heaven as a solid structure supported by walls that rested on the earth's plain. Different names were given to different sections of the wall. Kahiki-ku and Kahiki-moe were names applied to certain of these sections. It would, however, be too much, to expect any Hawaiian, however intelligent and well versed in old lore, to indicate the location of these regions.]

[Footnote 353: The words apapa nu'u and apapa lani, which convey to the mind of the author the picture of a series of terraced plains or steppes—no doubt the original meaning—here mean a family or order of gods, not of the highest rank, at or near the head of which stood Pele. Apropos of this subject the following lines have been quoted:

Hanau ke apapa nu'u: Hanau ke apapa lani; Hanau Pele, ka hihi'o na lani.


Begotten were the gods of graded rank; Begotten were the gods of heavenly rank; Begotten was Pele, quintessence of heaven.

This same expression was sometimes used to mean an order of chiefs, alii. Apapa lani was also used to mean the highest order of gods, Ku, Kane, Kanaloa, Lono. The kings also were gods, for which reason this expression at times applied to the alii of highest rank, those, for instance, who inherited the rank of niau-pi'o or of wohi.]

[Footnote 354: Lani. Originally the heavens, came to mean king, chief, alii.]

[Footnote 355: There is a difference of opinion as to the meaning of Kape'a ma. After hearing diverse opinions the author concludes that it refers to the rays of the sun that precede its rising—a Greek idea.]

[Footnote 356: Unulau. A name for the trade-wind which, owing to the conformation of the land, often sweeps down with great force through the deep valleys that seam the mountains of west Maui between Lahaina and Maalaea bay; such a wind squall was called a mumuku.]

[Footnote 357: Ukumehame. The name of a deep valley on west Maui in the region above described.]

[Footnote 358: Papawai. The principal cape on west Maui between Lahaina and Maalaea bay.]

[Footnote 359: Kumu-kahi. A cape in Puna, the easternmost part of Hawaii; by some said to be the sun's wife, and the object of his eager pursuit after coming out of his eastern gate Ha'eha'e. The name was also applied to a pillar of stone that was planted on the northern border of this cape. Standing opposite to it, on the southern side, was the monolith Makanoni. In summer the sun in its northern excursion inclined, as the Hawaiians noted, to the side of Kumukahi, while in the season of cool weather, called Makalii, it swung in the opposite direction and passed over to Makanoni. The people of Puna accordingly said, "The sun has passed over to Makanoni," or "The sun has passed over to Kumukahi," as the case might be. These two pillars are said to be of such a form as to suggest the thought that they are phallic emblems, and this conjecture is strengthened by consideration of the tabus connected with them and of the religious ceremonies peformed before them. The Hawaiians speak of them as pohaku eho, which, the author believes, is the name given to a phallus, and describe them as plain uncarved pillars.

These stones were set up in very ancient times and are said to have been tabu to women at the times of their infirmity. If a woman climbed upon them at such a period or even set foot upon the platform on which one of them stood she was put to death. Another stringent tabu forbade anyone to perform an office of nature while his face was turned toward one of these pillars.

The language of the mele, Ke hahai ae la e like me Kumukahi (verse 16), implies that the sun chased after Kumukahi. Apropos of this is the following quotation from an article on the phallus in Chambers's Encyclopedia: "The common myth concerning it [the phallus] was the story of some god deprived of his power of generation—an allusion to the sun, which in autumn loses its fructifying influence."

In modern times there seems to have grown up a curious mixture of traditions about these two stones, in which the old have become overlaid with new superstitions; and these last in turn seem to be dying out. They are now vaguely remembered as relics of old demigods, petrified forms of ancient kupua.[360] Fishermen, it is said, not long ago offered sacrifices to them, hoping thus to purchase good luck. Any offense against them, such as that by women, above mentioned, or by men, was atoned for by offering before these ancient monuments the first fish that came to the fisherman's hook or net.

Mention of the name Kumu-kahi to a Hawaiian versed in ancient lore called up to his memory the name of Pala-moa as his associate. The account this old man gave of them was that they were demigods much worshiped and feared for their power and malignity. They were reputed to be cannibals on the sly, and, though generally appearing in human form, were capable of various metamorphoses, thus eluding detection. They were believed to have the power of taking possession of men through spiritual obsession, as a result of which the obsessed ones were enabled to heal sickness as well as to cause it, to reveal secrets, and to Inflict death, thus terrifying people beyond measure. The names of these, two demigods, especially that of Palamoa, are to this day appealed to by practitioners of the black arts.]

[Footnote 360: The Hawaiian alphabet had no letter s. The Hawaiians indicated the plural by prefixing the particle na.]

[Page 198]



Awake now, Kahiki-ku; Awake now, Kahiki-moe; Awake, ye gods of lower grade; Awake, ye gods of heavenly rank. 5 A serenade to thee, O king. Awake thee!

Awake, it is day, it is light; The Day-god his arrows is shooting, Unulau his eye far-flashing, 10 Canoe-men from Uku-me-hame Are astir to weather the windy cape, The boat-baffling cape, Papa-wai, And the boisterous A-nahe-nahe. Awake thee!

15 Awake, day is come and the light; The sun-rays stab the skin of the deep; It pursues, as did god Kumu-kahi To companion with god Maka-noni; The plain of Apua quivers with heat. 20 Awake thee!

Awake, 'tis day, 'tis light; The sun stands over Waihoa, Afloat on the breast of ocean; The iwa of Leinoai is preening 25 On the cliff Maka-iki-olea. On the breast of naked Lehua. Awake thee! awake!

The following is a prayer said to have been used at the time of awa-drinking. When given in the hula, the author is informed, its recitation was accompanied by the sound of the drum.

He Pule no Pele


O Pele la ko'u akua: Miha ka lani, miha ka honua. Awa iku, awa lani; Kai awaawa, ka awa nui a Hiiaka, 5 I kua i Mauli-ola;[361] He awa kapu no na wahine. E kapu!

Ka'i kapu kou awa, e Pele a Honua-mea; E kala, e Haumea wahine, 10 O ka wahine i Kilauea, Nana i eli a hohonu ka lua O Mau-wahine, o Kupu-ena, O na wahine i ka inu-hana awa. E ola na 'kua malihini![362]


15 I kama'a-ma'a la i ka pua-lei; E loa ka wai apua, Ka pii'na i Ku-ka-la-ula;[363] Hoopuka aku i Puu-lena, Aina a ke Akua i noho ai.

[Page 199] 20 Kanaenae a ke Akua malihini;[362] O ka'u wale iho la no ia, o ka leo, He leo wale no, e-e! E ho-i! Eia ka ai!

[Footnote 361: Maull-ola. A god of health; perhaps also the name of a place. The same word also was applied to the breath of life, or to the physician's power of healing. In the Maori tongue the word mauri, corresponding to mauli, means life, the seat of life. In Samoan the word mauli means heart. "Sneeze, living heart" (Tihe mauri ora), says the Maori mother to her infant when it sneezes. For this bit of Maori lore acknowledgment is due to Mr. S. Percy Smith, of New Zealand.]

[Footnote 362: According to one authority, at the close of the first canto the stranger gods—akua malihini—who consisted of that multitude of godlings called the Kini Akua, took their departure from the ceremony, since they did not belong to the Pele family. Internal evidence, however, the study of the prayer itself in its two parts, leads the writer to disagree with this authority. Other Hawaiians of equally deliberate judgment support him in this opinion. The etiquette connected with ceremonious awa-drinking, which the Samoans of to-day still maintain in full form, long ago died out in Hawaii. This etiquette may never have been cultivated here to the same degree as in its home, Samoa; but this poem is evidence that the ancient Hawaiians paid greater attention to it than they of modern times. The reason for this decline of ceremony must be sought for in the mental and esthetic make-up of the Hawaiian people; it was not due to any lack of fondness in the Hawaiian for awa as a beverage or as an intoxicant. It is no help to beg the question by ascribing the decline of this etiquette to the influence of social custom. To do so would but add one more link to the chain that binds cause to effect. The Hawaiian mind was not favorable to the observance of this sort of etiquette; it did not afford a soil fitted to nourish such an artificial growth.]

[Footnote 363: The meaning of the word Ku-ka-la-ula presented great difficulty and defied all attempts at translation until the suggestion was made by a bright Hawaiian, which was adopted with satisfaction, that it probably referred to that state of dreamy mental exaltation which comes with awa-intoxication. This condition, like that of frenzy, of madness, and of idiocy, the Hawaiian regarded as a divine possession.]


A Prayer to Pele


Lo, Pele's the god of my choice: Let heaven and earth in silence wait Here is awa, potent, sacred, Bitter sea, great Hiiaka's root; 5 'Twas cut at Mauli-ola— Awa to the women forbidden, Let it tabu be! Exact be the rite of your awa, O Pele of the sacred land.

[Page 200] 10 Proclaim it, mother. Haumea, Of the goddess of Kilauea; She who dug the pit world-deep, And Mau-wahine and Kupu-ena, Who prepare the awa for drink. 15 A health to the stranger gods!


Bedeck now the board for the feast; Fill up the last bowl to the brim; Then pour a draught in the sun-cave Shall flow to the mellow haze, 20 That tints the land of the gods.

All hail to the stranger gods! This my offering, simply a voice, Only a welcoming voice. Turn in! 25 Lo, the feast!

This prayer, though presented in two parts or cantos, is really one, its purpose being to offer a welcome, kanaenae, to the feast and ceremony to the gods who had a right to expect that courtesy.

One more mele of the number specially used in the hula Pele:


Nou paha e, ka inoa E ka'i-ka'i ku ana, A kau i ka nuku. E hapa-hapai a'e; 5 A pa i ke kihi O Ki-lau-e-a. Ilaila ku'u kama, O Ku-nui-akea.[364] Hookomo a'e iloko 10 A o Hale-ma'u-ma'u;[365] A ma-u na pu'u E ola-ola, nei. E kulipe'e nui ai-ahua.[366] E Pele, e Pele! 15 E Pele, e Pele! Huai'na! huai'na! Ku ia ka lani, Pae a huila!

[Footnote 364: Kalakaua, for whom all these fine words are intended, could no more claim kinship with Ku-nui-akea, the son of Kau-i-ke-aouli, than with Julius Caesar.]

[Footnote 365: Hale-mau-mau. Used figuratively of the mouth, whose hairy fringe—moustache and beard—gives it a fancied resemblance to the rough lava pit where Pele dwelt. The figure, to us no doubt obscure, conveyed to the Hawaiian the idea of trumpeting the name and making it famous.]

[Footnote 366: E kuli-pe'e nui ai-ahua. Pele is here figured as an old, infirm woman, crouching and crawling along; a character and attitude ascribed to her, no doubt, from the fancied resemblance of a lava flow, which, when in the form of a-a, rolls and tumbles along over the surface of the ground in a manner suggestive of the motions and attitude of a palsied crone.] [Page 201]



Yours, doubtless, this name. Which people are toasting With loudest acclaim. Now raise it, aye raise it, 5 Till it reaches the niches Of Ki-lau-e-a. Enshrined is there my kinsman, Ku-nui-akea. Then give it a place 10 In the temple of Pele; And a bowl for the throats That are croaking with thirst. Knock-kneed eater of land, O Pele, god Pele! 15 O Pele, god Pele! Burst forth now! burst forth! Launch a bolt from the sky! Let thy lightnings fly:

When this poem[367] first came into the author's hands, though attracted by its classic form and vigorous style, he could not avoid being repelled by an evident grossness. An old Hawaiian, to whom he stated his objections, assured him that the mele was innocent of all bad intent, and when the offensive word was pointed out he protested that it was an interloper. The substitution of the right word showed that the man was correct. The offense was at once removed. This set the whole poem in a new light and it is presented with satisfaction. The mele is properly a name-song, mele-inoa. The poet represents some one as lifting a name to his mouth for praise and adulation. He tells him to take it to Kilauea—that it may reecho, doubtless, from the walls of the crater.

[Footnote 367: It is said to ue the work of a hula-master, now some years dead, by the name of Namakeelua.] [Page 202]


The hula pa'i-umauma—chest-beating hula—called also hula Pa-lani,[368] was an energetic dance, in which the actors, who were also the singers, maintained a kneeling position, with the buttocks at times resting on the heels. In spite of the restrictions imposed by this attitude, they managed to put a spirited action into the performance; there were vigorous gestures, a frequent smiting of the chest with the open hand, and a strenuous movement of the pelvis and lower part of the body called ami. This consisted of rhythmic motions, sidewise, backward, forward, and in a circular or elliptical orbit, all of which was done with the precision worthy of an acrobat, an accomplishment attained only after long practice. It was a hula of classic celebrity, and was performed without the accompaniment of instrumental music.

[Footnote 368: Palani, French, so called at Moanalua because a woman who was its chief exponent was a Catholic, one of the "poe Palani." Much odium has been laid to the charge of the hula on account of the supposed indecency of the motion termed ami. There can be no doubt that the ami was at times used to represent actions unfit for public view, and so far the blame is just. But the ami did not necessarily nor always represent obscenity, and to this extent the hula has been unjustly maligned.]

In the mele now to be given the poet calls up a succession of pictures by imagining himself in one scenic position after another, beginning at Hilo and passing in order from one island to another—omitting, however, Maui—until he finds himself at Kilauea, an historic and traditionally interesting place on the windward coast of the garden-island, Kauai. The order of travel followed by the poet forbids the supposition that the Kilauea mentioned is the great caldera of the volcano on Hawaii in which Pele had her seat.

It is useless to regret that the poet did not permit his muse to tarry by the way long enough to give us something more than a single eyeshot at the quickly shifting scenes which unrolled themselves before him, that so he might have given us further reminiscence of the lands over which his Pegasus bore him. Such completeness of view, however, is alien to the poesy of Hawaii. [Page 203]


A Hilo au e, hoolulu ka lehua[369]; A Wai-luku la, i ka Lua-kanaka[370]; A Lele-iwi[371] la, au i ke kai; A Pana-ewa[372], i ka ulu-lehna; 5 A Ha-ili[373], i ke kula-manu; A Mologai, i ke ala-kahi, Ke kula o Kala'e[374] wela i ka la; Mauna-loa[375] la, Ka-lua-ko'i[376], e; Na hala o Nihoa[377], he mapuna la; 10 A Ko'i-ahi[378] au, ka maile lau-lu la; A Makua[379] la, i ke one opio-pio[380], E holu ana ke kai o-lalo; He wahine a-po'i-po'i[381] e noho ana, A Kilauea[382], i ke awa ula.



At Hilo I rendezvoused with, the lehua; By the Wailuku stream, near the robber-den; Off cape Lele-iwi I swam in the ocean; At Pana-ewa, mid groves of lehua; 5 At Ha-ili, a forest of flocking birds. On Molokai I travel its one highway; I saw the plain of Kala'e quiver with heat, And beheld the ax-quarries of Mauna-loa. Ah, the perfume Nihoa's pandanus exhales! 10 Ko'i-ahi, home of the small-leafed maile; And now at Makua, lo, its virgin sand, While ocean surges and scours on below. Lo, a woman crouched on the shore by the sea, In the brick-red bowl, Kilauea's bay.

[Footnote 369: Lehua. A tree that produces the tufted scarlet flower that is sacred to the goddess of the hula, Laka.]

[Footnote 370: Lua-kanaka. A deep and dangerous crossing at the Wailuku river, which is said to have been the cause of death by drowning of very many. Another story is that it was once the hiding place of robbers.]

[Footnote 371: Lele-iwi. The name of a cape at Hilo, near the mouth of the Wai-luku river;—water of destruction.]

[Footnote 372: Pana-ewa. A forest region in Ola'a much mentioned in myth and poetry.]

[Footnote 373: Haili. A region in Ola'a, a famous: resort for bird-catchers.]

[Footnote 374: Ka-la'e. A beautiful place in the uplands back of Kaunakakai, on Molokai.]

[Footnote 375: Mauna-loa. The mountain in the western part of Molokai.]

[Footnote 376: Ka-lua-ko'i. A place on this same Mauna-loa where was quarried stone suitable for making the Hawaiian ax.]

[Footnote 377: Nihoa. A small land near Kalaupapa, Molokai, where was a grove of fine pandanus trees.]

[Footnote 378: Ko'i-ahi. A small valley in the district of Waianae, Oahu, where was the home of the small-leafed maile.]

[Footnote 379: Makua. A valley in Waianae.]

[Footnote 380: One opio-pio. Sand freshly smoothed by an ocean wave.]

[Footnote 381: Apo'i-po'i. To crouch for the purpose, perhaps, of screening oneself from view, as one, for instance, who is naked and desires to escape observation.]

[Footnote 382: Kilauea. There is some doubt whether this is the Kilauea on Kauai or a little place of the same name near cape Kaeua, the westernmost point of Oahu.] [Page 204] In the next mele to be given it is evident that, though the motive is clearly Hawaiian, it has lost something of the rugged simplicity and impersonality that belonged to the most archaic style, and that it has taken on the sentimentality of a later period.


E Manono la, e-a, E Manono la, e-a, Kau ka ope-ope; Ka ulu hala la, e-a, 5 Ka uluhe la, e-a. Ka uluhe la, e-a, A hiki Pu'u-nana, Hali'i punana No huli mai.

10 Hull mai o-e la; Moe kaua; Hali'i punana No hull mai. Hull mai o-e la; 15 Moe kaua; Moe aku kaua; O ka wai welawela, O ka papa lohi O Mau-kele;

20 Moe aku kaua; O ka wai welawela, O ka papa lohi O Mau-kele. A kele, a kele 25 Kou manao la, e-a; A kele, a kele Kou manao la, e-a.



Come now, Manono, Come, Manono, I say; Take up the burden; Through groves of pandanus 5 And wild stag-horn fern, Wearisome fern, lies our way. Arrived at the hill-top, We'll smooth out the nest, That we may snug close.

10 Turn now to me, dear, While we rest here. Make we a little nest, That we may draw near. This way your face, dear, [Page 205] 15 While, we rest here. Rest thou and I here, Near the warm, warm water And the smooth lava-plate Of Mau-kele.

20 Rest thou and I here. By the water so warm, And the lava-plate smooth Of Mau-kele. Little by little 25 Your thoughts will be mine. Little by little Your thoughts I'll divine.

Manono was the name of the brave woman, wife of Ke-kua-o-kalani, who fell in the battle of Kuamo'o, in Kona, Hawaii, in 1819, fighting by the side of her husband. They died in support of the cause of law and order, of religion and tabu, the cause of the conservative party in Hawaii, as opposed to license and the abolition of all restraint.

The uluhe (verses 5, 6) is the stag-horn fern, which forms a matted growth most obstructive to woodland travel.

The burden Manono is asked to bear, what else is it but the burden of life, in this case lightened by love?

Whether there is any connection between the name of the hula—breast-beating—and the expression, in the first verse of the following mele is more than the author can say.


Ka-hipa[383], na waiu olewa, Lele ana, ku ka mahiki akea; Keke ka niho o Laui-wahine[384]; Opi ke a lalo, ke a luna. 5 A hoi aku au i Lihue, Kana aku ia Ewa; E au ana o Miko-lo-lou,[385] [Page 206] A pahu ka naau no Pa-pi'-o[386]. A pa'a ka mano. 10 Hopu i ka lima. Ai pakahi, e, i ka nahele,[387] Alawa a'e na ulu kani o Leiwalo. E noho ana Kolea-kani[388] Ka pii'na i ka Uwa-lua; 15 Oha-oha, lei i ka makani.

[Footnote 383: Ka-hipa. Said to be the name of a mythological character, now applied to a place in Kahuku where the mountains present the form of two female breasts.]

[Footnote 384: Lani-wahine. A benignant mo'o, or water-nymph, sometimes taking the form of a woman, that is said to have haunted the lagoon of Uko'a, Waialua, Oahu. There is a long story about her.]

[Footnote 385: Miko-lo-lou. A famous man-eating shark-god whose home was in the waters of Hana, Maui. He visited Oahu and was hospitably received by Ka-ahu-pahau and Ka-hi'u-ka, sharks of the Ewa lagoons, who had a human ancestry and were on friendly terms with their kindred. Miko-lo-lou, when his hosts denied him human flesh, helped himself. In the conflict that rose the Ewa sharks joined with their human relatives and friends on land to put an end to Miko-lo-lou. After a fearful contest they took him and reduced his body to ashes. A dog, however, snatched and ate a portion—some say the tongue, some the tail—and another part fell into the water. This was reanimated by the spirit of the dead shark and grew to be a monster of the same size and power as the one deceased. Miko-lo-lou now gathered his friends and allies from all the waters and made war against the Ewa sharks, but was routed.]

[Footnote 386: Pa-pi'-o. A shark of moderate size, but of great activity, that fought against Mlko-lo-lou. It entered his enormous mouth, passed down into his stomach, and there played havoc with the monster, eating its way out.]

[Footnote 387: Ai pakahi, e, i ka nahele. The company represented by the poet to be journeying pass through an uninhabited region barren of food. The poet calls upon them to satisfy their Imnger by eating of the edible wild herbs—they abound everywhere in Hawaii—at the same time representing them as casting longing glances on the breadfruit trees of Leiwalo. This was a grove in the lower levels of Ewa that still survives.]

[Footnote 388: Kolea-kani. A female kupua—witch she might be called now—that had the form of a plover. She looked after the thirsty ones who passed along the road, and benevolently showed them where to find water. By her example the people of the district are said to have been induced to give refreshment to travelers who went that way.]



'Tis Kahipa, with, pendulous breasts; How they swing to and fro, see-saw! The teeth of Lani-wahine gape— A truce to upper and lower jaw! 5 From Lihue we look upon Ewa; There swam the monster, Miko-lo-lou, His bowels torn out by Pa-pi'-o. The shark was caught in grip of the hand. Let each one stay himself with wild herbs, And for comfort turn his hungry eyes 10 To the rustling trees of Lei-walo. Hark! the whistling-plover—her old-time seat, As one climbs the hill from Echo-glen, And cools his brow in the breeze.

The thread of interest that holds together the separate pictures composing this mele is slight. It will, perhaps, give to the whole a more definite meaning if we recognize that it is made up of snapshots at various objects and localities that presented themselves to one passing along the old road from Kahuku, on Oahu, to the high land which gave the tired traveler his first distant view of Honolulu before he entered the winding canyon of Moana-lua. [Page 207]


The hula ku'i Molokai was a variety of the Hawaiian dance that originated on the island of Molokai, probably at a later period than what one would call the classic times. Its performance extended to the other islands. The author has information of its exhibition on the island of its name as late as the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The actors, as they might be called, in this hula were arranged in pairs who faced each other and went through motions similar to those of boxing. This action, ku'i, to smite, gave the name to the performance. The limiting word Molokai was added to distinguish it from another still more modern form of dance called ku'i, which will be described later.

While the performers stood and went through with their motions, marching and countermarching, as they are said to have done, they chanted or recited in recitative some song, of which the following is an example. This they did with no instrumental accompaniment:


He ala kai olohia,[389] He hiwahiwa na ka la'i luahine, He me' aloha na'u ka makani hauai-loli,[390] E uwe ana I ke kai pale iliahi. 5 Kauwa ke aloha i na lehua o Kaana.[391] Pomaikai au i kou aloha e noho nei; Ka haluku wale no ia a ka waimaka, Me he makamaka puka a la Ke aloha i ke kanaka, 10 E ho-iloli nei i ku'u nui kino. Mahea hoi au, a? Ma ko oe alo no.

[Footnote 389: Kai olohia. A calm and tranquil sea. This expression has gained a poetic vogue that almost makes it pass current as a single word, meaning tranquillity, calmness of mind. As thus explained, it is here translated by the expression "heart's-ease."]

[Footnote 390: Makani hanai-loli. A wind so gentle as not to prevent the beche de mer loli sea-anemones, and other marine slugs from coming out of their holes to feed. A similar figure is used in the next line in the expression kai pale iliahi. The thought is that the calmness of the ocean invites one to strip and plunge in for a bath.]

[Footnote 391: Kauwa ke aloha i na lehua o Kaana. Kaana is said to be a hill on the road from Keaau to Olaa, a spot where travelers were wont to rest and where they not infrequently made up wreaths of the scarlet lehua bloom which there abounded. It took a large number of lehua flowers to suffice for a wreath, and to bind them securely to the fillet that made them a garland was a work demanding not only artistic skill hut time and patience. If a weary traveler, halting at Kaana, employed his time of rest in plaiting flowers into a wreath for some loved one, there would be truth as well as poetry in the saying, "Love slaves for the lehuas of Kaana."] [Page 208] [Translation]


Precious the gift of heart's-ease, A wreath for the cheerful dame; So dear to my heart is the breeze That murmurs, strip for the ocean. 5 Love slaves for wreaths from Kaana. I'm blest in your love that reigns here; It speaks in the fall of a tear— The choicest thing in one's life, This love for a man by his wife— 10 It has power to shake the whole frame. Ah, where am I now? Here, face to your face.

The platitudes of mere sentimentalism, when put into cold print, are not stimulating to the imagination; moods and states of feeling often approaching the morbid, their oral expression needs the reenforcement of voice, tone, countenance, the whole attitude. They are for this reason most difficult of translation and when rendered literally into a foreign speech often become meaningless. The figures employed also, like the watergourds and wine-skins of past generations and of other peoples, no longer appeal to us as familiar objects, but require an effort of the imagination to make them intelligible and vivid to our mental vision. If the translator carries these figures of speech over into his new rendering, they will often demand an explanation on their own account, and will thus fail of their original intent; while if he clothes the thought in some new figure he takes the risk of failing to do justice to the intimate meaning of the original. The force of these remarks will become apparent from an analysis of the prominent figures of speech that occur in the mele.


He inoa no ka Lani, No Nahi-ena-ena; A ka luna o wahine. Ho'i ka ena a ka makani; 5 Noho ka la'i i ka malino— Makani ua ha-ao; Ko ke au i hala, ea. Punawai o Mana,[392] Wai ola na ke kupa 10 A ka ilio nana, Hae, nanahu i ke kai; Ehu kai nana ka pua, Ka pua o ka iliau, [Page 209] Ka ohai o Mapepe,[393] 15 Ka moena we'u-we'u, I ulana ia e ke A'e, Ka naku loloa. Hea mai o Kawelo-hea,[394] Nawai la, e, ke kapu? 20 No Nahi-ena-ena. Ena na pua i ka wai, Wai au o Holei.

[Footnote 392: Punaurai o Mana. A spring of water at Honuapo, Hawaii, which bubbled up at such a level that the ocean covered it at high tide.]

[Footnote 393: Ka ohai o Mapepe. A beautiful flowering shrub, also spoken of as ka ohai o Papi'o-huli, said to have been brought from Kahiki by Namaka-o-kaha'i.]

[Footnote 394: Kawelo-hea. A blowhole or spouting horn, also at Honuapo, through which the ocean at certain times sent up a column of spray or of water. After the volcanic disturbance of 1868 this spouting horn ceased action. The rending force of the earthquakes must have broken up and choked the subterranean channel through which the ocean had forced its way.]



A eulogy for the princess, For Nahi-ena-ena a name! Chief among women! She soothes the cold wind with her flame— 5 A peace that is mirrored in calm, A wind that sheddeth rain; A tide that flowed long ago; The water-spring of Mana, Life-spring for the people, 10 A fount where the lapping dog Barks at the incoming wave, Drifting spray on the bloom Of the sand-sprawling ili-au And the scarlet flower of ohai, 15 On the wind-woven mat of wild grass, Long naku, a springy mattress. The spout-horn, Kawelo-hea, Asks, Who of right has the tabu? The princess Nahi-ena-ena! 20 The flowers glow in the pool, The bathing pool of Holei!

This mele inoa—name-song or eulogy—was composed in celebration of the lamented princess, Nahienaena, who, before she was misled by evil influences, was a most attractive and promising character. She was the daughter of Keopuolani and younger sister of Kamehameha III, and came to her untimely death in 1836. The name was compounded from the words na, the, ahi, fires, and enaena, hot, a meaning which furnishes the motive to the mele. [Page 210]


The hula ki-e-lei, or ki-le-lei, was a performance of Hawaii's classic times, and finds mention as such in the professedly imperfect list of hulas given by the historian David Malo.[395] It was marked by strenuous bodily action, gestures with feet and hands, and that vigorous exercise of the pelvis and body termed ami, the chief feature of which was a rotation of the pelvis in circles and ellipses, which is not to be regarded as an effort to portray sexual attitudes. It was a performance in which the whole company stood and chanted the mele without instrumental accompaniment.

[Footnote 395: Hawaiian Antiquities, by David Malo; translated by N.B. Emerson, A.M., M.D. Honolulu, the Hawaiian Gazette Company (Limited), 1903.]

The sacrifice offered at the kuahu in connection with the production of this hula consisted of a black pig, a cock of the color termed ula-hiwa—black pointed with red—a white hen, and awa. According to some authorities the offerings deemed appropriate for the sacrifice that accompanied each hula varied with the hula, but was definitely established for each variety of hula. The author's studies, however, lead him to conclude that, whatever may have been the original demands of the gods, in the long run they were not overparticular and were not only willing to put up with, but were well pleased so long as the offering contained, good pork or fish and strong awa.


Ku piliki'i Hanalei-lehua,[396] la; Kao'o[397] 'luna o ka naele,[398] la; Ka Pili-iki i ka Hua-moa, la; E ka mauna o ke a'a lewalewa[399] la. 5 A lewa ka hope o ko'u hoa, la, [Page 211] A ko-u ka hope o ke kolea, la— Na u'i elua.[400] Ki-ki'i ka ua i ka nana keia, la.[401]

[Footnote 396: Hanalei-lehua. A wilderness back of Hanalei valley, Kauai, in which the lehua tree abounds. The features of this region are as above described.]

[Footnote 397: Kao'o. To bend down the shrubs and tussocks of grass to furnish solid footing in crossing swampy ground.]

[Footnote 398: Nae'le. Boggy ground; a swamp, such as pitted the summit of Kauai's central mountain mass, Waialeale.]

[Footnote 399: A'a lewalewa. Aerial roots such as are put forth by the lehua trees in high altitudes and in a damp climate. They often aid the traveler by furnishing him with a sort of ladder.]

[Footnote 400: U'i elua. Literally two beauties. One interpreter says the reference is to the arms, with which one pulls himself up; it is here rendered "flanks."]

[Footnote 401: Ki-ki'i ka na i ka nana keia, la. The meaning of this passage is obscure. The most plausible view is that this is an exclamation made by one of the two travelers while crouching for shelter under an overhanging bank. This one, finding himself unprotected, exclaims to his companion on the excellence of the shelter he has found, whereupon the second man comes over to share his comfort only to find that he has been hoaxed and that the deceiver has stolen his former place. The language of the text seems a narrow foundation on which to base such an incident. A learned Hawaiian friend, however, finds it all implied in this passage.]



Perilous, steep, is the climb to Hanalei woods; To walk canny footed over its bogs; To balance oneself on its ledges, And toil up ladder of hanging roots. 5 The bulk of my guide overhangs me, His loins are well-nigh exhausted; Two beautiful shapes! 'Neath this bank I crouch sheltered from rain.

At first blush this mele seems to be the account of a perilous climb through that wild mountainous region that lies back of Hanalei, Kauai, a region of tangled woods, oozy steeps, fathomless bogs, narrow ridges, and overhanging cliffs that fall away into profound abysses, making such an excursion a most precarious adventure. This is what appears on the surface. Hawaiian poets, however, did not indulge in landscape-painting for its own sake; as a rule, they had some ulterior end in view, and that end was the portrayal of some primal human passion, ambition, hate, jealousy, love, especially love. Guided by this principle, one asks what uncouth or romantic love adventure this wild mountain climb symbolizes. All the Hawaiians whom the author has consulted on this question deny any hidden meaning to this mele. [Page 212]


The conception of this peculiar hula originated from a pathetic incident narrated in the story of Hiiaka's journey to bring Prince Lohiau to the court of Pele. Haiika, standing with her friend Wahine-oma'o on the heights that overlooked the beach at Kahakuloa, Maui, saw the figure of a woman, maimed as to hands and feet, dancing in fantastic glee on a plate of rock by the ocean. She sang as she danced, pouring out her soul in an ecstasy that ill became her pitiful condition; and as she danced her shadow-dance, for she was but a ghost, poor soul! these were the words she repeated:

Auwe, auwe, mo' ku'u lima! Auwe, auwe, mo' ku'u lima!


Alas, alas, maimed are my hands! Alas, alas, maimed are my hands!

Wahine-oma'o, lacking spiritual sight, saw nothing of this; but Hiiaka, in downright pity and goodness of impulse, plucked a hala fruit from the string about her neck and threw it so that it fell before the poor creature, who eagerly seized it and with the stumps of her hands held it up to enjoy its odor. At the sight of the woman's pleasure Hiiaka sang:

Le'a wale hoi ka wahine lima-lima ole, wawae ole, E ha ana i kana i'a, ku'i-ku'i ana i kana opihi, Wa'u-wa'u ana i kana limu, Mana-mana-ia-kalu-e-a.


How pleased is the girl maimed of hand and foot, Groping for fish, pounding shells of opihi, Kneading her moss, Mana-mana-ia-kalu-ea!

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