Unwritten Literature of Hawaii, by Nathaniel B. Emerson, , at sacred-texts.com
There was a peculiar class of hulas named after animals, in each one of which the song-maker developed some characteristic of the animal in a fanciful way, while the actors themselves aimed to portray the animal's movements in a mimetic fashion. To this class belongs the hula kolea. a It was a peculiar dance, performed, as an informant asserts, by actors who took the kneeling posture, all being placed in one row and facing in the same direction. There were gestures without stint, arms, heads, and bodies moving in a fashion that seemed to imitate in a far-off way the movements of the bird itself. There was no instrumental accompaniment. to the music. The following mele is one that was given with this hula:
The plover--kolea--is a wayfarer in Hawaii; its nest-home is in distant lands, Kahiki. The Hawaiian poet finds in all this some-thing that reminds him of the spirit of love.
219:a The plover.
219:b Kolea kai piha. The kolea is a feeder along the shore, his range limited to a narrower strip as the tide rises. The snare was one of the methods used by the Hawaiians for the capture of this bird. In his efforts to escape when snared he made that futile bobbing motion with his head that mast be familiar to every hunter.
219:c Usually the bobbing motion, ku-nou, is the prelude to flight; but the snared bird can do nothing more, a fact which suggests to the poet the nodding and bowing of two lovers when they meet.
219:d E ai kakou. Literally, let us eat. While this figure of speech often has a sensual meaning, it does not necessarily imply grossness. Hawaiian literalness and narrowness of vocabulary is not to be strained to the overthrow of poetical sentiment.
219:e To the question Nohea ka ai?, whence the food? that is, the bird, the poet answers, No Kahiki mai, from Kahiki, from some distant region, the gift of heaven, it may be, as implied in the next line, Hiki mai ka Lani. The coming of the king, or chief, Lani, literally, the heaven-born, with the consummation of the love. Exactly what this connection is no one can say.
219:f In the expression Pili me ka’u manu the poet returns to his figure of a bird as representing a loved one.
220:a O ka hua o ke kolea, aia i Kahiki. In declaring that the egg of the kolea is laid in a foreign land, Kahiki, the poor enigmatizes, basing his thought on some fancied resemblance between the mystery of love and the mystery of the kolea's birth.