I Hilo ‘o Kalani

Author: 
Kīhei de Silva

 

"Sunday, June 28, 1846. We passed Hilo pali ku on Sunday. The prospect was very charming. We saw a good many houses in that region. The hills looked very fertile and green. The same day we saw Mauna Kea. It was very cloudy and the Mount was mostly covered with fog so that we did not see much of it, but we could see the height of it. We reached Byron’s Bay on Sunday evening at 8 o’clock..."
-- Ber[nice Pauahi].

Pauahi was 14 years old when she sailed aboard the schooner Kamehameha III to visit the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, and Moloka‘i. She penned an account of this trip on folded, unlined paper; it was reproduced in 1981 by the Bishop Museum Press under the title: "A Report of Voyages and Travels on Hawai‘i, Maui, and Moloka‘i Undertaken by the Students of the Chiefs’ Children’s School in the Summer of 1848." The opening verses of "I Hilo ‘o Kalani" were inspired by the Hilo section of Pauahi’s account; the concluding verses, however, pertain to events of a much more recent and disturbing day.

Ke kau aloha wale mai lā ka ua
E ka‘i mai ana i Hilo One
He hilu nō ka i‘a, ua no‘eno‘e
‘Ikea e nā kini o Hanakahi
A hana Haili i ke po‘i a ka ua
Hāko‘i Waiolama i ka neki
Eia a‘e kahi Neki waiho ‘ao‘ao
Ho‘onui ka ‘imina o ke kula
Ua kapu ia kula ua alodia
I ka wahine noho anu i Mānā

Ho‘okahi nō puana o ka pu‘uwai
He ‘āina hi‘ialo ‘o Nāpalikū.
 

The rain settles softly
Entering from the sea at Hilo One.
The fish is a hilu, grown gentle and elegant
Greeted by the throngs of Hilo Hanakahi
Haili works on the lid of rain
And Waiolama is agitated in the reeds
A certain Neki arrives, tilted to one side
Looking always to increase her fortune
This kula is sacred, inalienable
Because of the woman who dwells in the cold of Mānā

The heart has but one refrain
Hilo Palikū is ever loyal.
 

 

© Kīhei de Silva 2006