“The author of this song is Thomas Lindsey of Kohala, Hawaiʻi. According to my informant, a Kohala native now dead, the song was composed for a woman he loved. It was customary with them to make honey suckle leis for him to wear. She was his first and only love. After making him a fresh lei one morning, he went to work. Returning unexpectedly, he saw a horse and hoof prints to show someone else was there. He quietly peered into the house and found her in another’s arms. He knew then that he was not her only lover. He took the wilted lei off his hat, hung it on the door knob, for her to see that he had been there, and departed. Then he composed this song. According to my informant, some of the words in the song had some inauspicious meaning and his death which followed not long after was attributed to these unlucky words.”
(Excerpt and mele translation provided by Mary Kawena Pukui)
|Hoʻoheno kēia no ka honesakala|
Ke ʻala mua hoʻi aʻu i honi ai
Hoʻopaʻa ʻia ma kuʻu puʻuwai
Me kahi poke a kāua i kui ai
ʻIke au i ka ʻono o ka wai o ia pua
Upu aʻe ka manaʻo e kiʻi hou e ʻako
ʻAʻohe kani leo nā manu ʻŌlaʻa
Ua laʻahia au me ka kuhihewa
Ua waiho iho au i kahi lei ua mae
I hōʻailona nou e ʻike iho ai
He ʻuʻa kēia ua hiki mai nei
Ke ahu mai nei ka meheu hele hewa
ʻAʻole no kuʻu ʻike ʻana i ka nani
Wau aʻe kaena wale aʻe ai
He makaʻu nui koʻu o pulu i ka ua
O ʻeloʻelo hoʻi a loaʻa i ke anu.
|This is a love song for the honeysuckle,|
Whose fragrance I first smelled.
Hold fast [our love] within your heart
With the flowers we strung together.
I tasted the honey within the flowers,
And thought to pick some more.
But the birds of ʻŌlaʻa no longer sings,
For I found myself mistaken.
I left my lei already wilted
As a token for you to see.
A worthless person had already come,
The signs of the mischief maker lies all about.
It isn’t because of the beauty I saw
That I make idle boasts
But I was afraid of being wet in the rain
And the drenching will give me a cold.
Mele are an invaluable primary resource for Hawaiian scholarship and cultural connection. The Welo Hou: Building Connections to the Roberts Mele Collection project, funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, will improve the digitization, indexing, and accessibility of a unique and treasured collection of mele dating from pre-Western contact to the early 1900s. This pilot project will serve as a model for improved access to and increased engagement with the Bishop Museum Library & Archives’ other mele collections.
Welo Hou, or to unfurl once again, aims to provide more opportunities for researchers of all levels of Hawaiian language and cultural fluency to access the Roberts Collection with ease, and honors the connections between Hawaiian voices of the past and our community of the present.
This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services NG-04-17-0218-17