Mele, Poetic Compositions

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa published on May 2, 1919.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

Hawaiian language newspapers, were a place to share and preserve mele, both old and new. The following is a mele written by Wahinekeouli Pā, a prolific composer of mele from Kauaʻi. Here she writes about the Kīlauea Lighthouse. The translation is by Mary Kawena Pukui, and is part of the Roberts Mele Collection (MS SC Roberts 2.2, pp 107–111).

Image: “He Mele no ka Hale Kukui o Kilauea,” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, May 2, 1919, p. 5.

A Mele for the Kīlauea Lighthouse. 

Lighthouse of Kīlauea, Kauaʻi.

Nani wale ka uila i Kīlauea, 

Beautiful is the revolving light of Kīlauea, 

E ʻanapa maila i ka paia lani; 

That flashes to the walls of the heavens; 

Hōʻike mai ana i kona nani, 

It shows forth its beauty, 

He mālamalama ʻoi kelakela; 

An exceedingly bright light; 

Helu ʻekahi aʻo Hawaiʻi nei, 

It is the best one in Hawaiʻi, 

Ma ka lihi kai o ka Pākīpika; 

That brightens the Pacific Ocean; 

Ua ana pono ʻia kona ʻenekini, 

Its engine has been properly gauged, 

No kanahā mile kona mamao; 

To reach a distance of forty miles; 

Kaomi lima ʻia iho ke pihi, 

When a button is pressed by hand, 

E niniu ʻia no ʻumi kekona; 

Each revolution takes ten seconds; 

Hihiu nā hana a ka Puakea, 

Wonderful are the deeds of the white man, 

He ʻoi pākela a ke akamai; 

Whose skill is unsurpassed; 

I hana noʻeau ʻia e Palani, 

The artistic work was done in France, 

Me nā waihoʻoluʻu like ʻole; 

[With a variety of colors;] 

He kīnohinohi ke ʻike aku, 

The ornaments that one sees, 

Ka ʻanapa a ka ʻōnohi kaimana, 

That sparkle like a diamond, 

Ua hana ʻia a kū i ka nani, 

That made them beautiful indeed, 

Mōlina wai gula ʻānapanapa; 

There are bright gold bands, 

Ka papa dālā ke kahua ia, 

[The base is of silver plate] 

Ka hulali a ka wai hoʻohinuhinu 

The polishes make them sparkle 

Ua kohu lihilihi ānuenue, 

Like bands in a rainbow, 

Ka ʻalohi, ka ʻanapa ke ʻike aku, 

[Sprakling and shiny,] 

Haʻina ʻia mai ana ka puana, 

I have now come to the end, 

Hale kukui nani aʻo Hawaiʻi nei. 

[Beautiful lighthouse of Hawaiʻi.] 

Composed by Mrs. W. Pā. 

Hanalei, Kauaʻi. 

(Ka Nupepa KuokoaMay 2, 1919, p. 5)

There is an exhibit on the Roberts Mele Collection happening now in the Picture Gallery at Bishop Museum. Take a look on your next visit!

Image: Kīlauea Lighthouse, Kīlauea, Kauaʻi. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 215896.

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact Archives@BishopMuseum.org.

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