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Unwritten Literature of Hawaii, by Nathaniel B. Emerson, [1909], at

p. 202


The hula pa’i-umauma--chest-beating hula--called also hula Palánia 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.

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.

p. 203


A Hilo au e, hoolulu ka lehua; a
A Wai-luku la, i ka Lua-kanáka; b
A Lele-iwi c la, au i ke kai;
A Pana-ewa, d i ka ulu-lehua;
5 A Ha-ili, e i ke kula-manu;
A Molokai, i ke ala-kahi,
Ke kula o Kala’e, f wela i ka la;
Mauna-loa g la, Ka-lua-ko’i, h e;
Na hala o Nihoa, i he mapuna la;
10 A Ko’i-ahi j au, ka maile lau-lii la;
A Makua k la, i ke one opio-pio, l
E holu ana ke kai o-lalo;
He wahine a-po’i-po’i m e noho ana,
A Kilauea, n 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-ewe, 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 Manna-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.

p. 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 ópe-ópe;
Ka ulu hala la, e-a,
5 Ka uluhe la, e-a.
Ka uluhe la, e-a,
A hiki Pu’u-naná,
Hali’i punána
No huli mai.

10 Huli mai o-e la;
Moe kaua;
Hali’i punana
No huli mai.
Huli 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, p. 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-ka-lani, 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, a na waiu olewa,
Lele ana, ku ka mahiki akea;
Keké ka niho o Lani-wahine; b
Opi ke a lalo, ke a luna.
5 A hoi aku au i Lihue,
Nana aku ia Ewa;
E au ana o Miko-lo-lóu, c

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A pahú ha naau no Pa-pi’-o. a
A pa’a ka manó.
10 Hopu i ka lima.
Ai pakahi, e, i ka nahele, b
Alawa a’e ua ulu kani o Leiwalo.
E noho ana Kolea-kani c
Ka pii’na i ka Uwa-lua;
15 Oha-ohá lei i ka makani.



’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-lóu,
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,
10 And for comfort turn his hungry eyes
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 Kahúku, 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.


202:a Paláni, French, so called at Moanalua because a woman who was its chief exponent was a Catholic, one of the "poe Paláni." 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 unlit for public view, and so fir the blame is just. But the ami did not necessarily nor always represent obscenity, and to this extent the hula has been unjustly maligned.

203:a Lehúa. A tree that produces the tufted scarlet flower that is sacred to the goddess of the hula, Laka.

203:b Lua-kanáka. 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.

203:c Lele-iwi. The name of a cape at Hilo, near the mouth of the Wai-luku river--water of destruction.

203:d Pana-ewa. A forest region in Ola’a much mentioned in myth and poetry.

203:e Haili. A region in Ola’a. a famous resort for bird-catchers.

203:f Ka-la’e. A beautiful place in the uplands back of Kaunakakai, on Molokai.

203:g Mauna-loa. The mountain in the western part of Molokai.

203:h Ka-lua-ko’i. A place on this same Mauna-loa where was quarried stone suitable for making the Hawaiian ax.

203:i Nihoa. A small land near Kalaupapa, Molokai, where was a grove of fine pandanus trees.

203:j Ko’i-ahi. A small valley in the district of Waianae, Oahu, where was the home of the small-leafed maile.

203:k Makua. A valley in Waianae.

203:l One opio-pio. Sand freshly smoothed by an ocean wave.

203:m 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.

203:n Kilauea. There is some doubt whether this is the Kilauea on Kauai or a little place of the same name near cape Kaena, the westernmost point of Oahu.

205:a 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.

205:b 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.

205:c Miko-lo-lóu. 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-ká, sharks of the Ewa lagoons. who had a human ancestry and were on friendly terms with their kindred. Miko-lo-lóu, 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-lóu. 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-lóu now gathered his friends and allies from all the waters and made war against the Ewa sharks, but was routed.

206:a Pa-pi’-o. A shark of moderate size, but of great activity, that fought against Miko-lo-lóu. It entered his enormous mouth, passed down into his stomach, and there played havoc with the monster, eating its way out.

206:b Ai pakahi, e, i to nahele. The company represented by the poet to he journeying pass through an uninhabited region barren of food. The poet calls upon them to satisfy their hunger 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.

206:c 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.

Next: XXVI.--The Hula Ku’i Molokai