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Lo-lale's Lament






Category: IN THE PACIFIC

Source: Myths & Legends Of Our New Possessions & Protectorate

Lo-Lale, a prince of Oahu in the fifteenth century, took no joy in
the sea after the girl had been drowned in it who was betrothed to
him. Retiring inland, he led a quiet, thoughtful life, to the regret
of those who had looked to see him show some fitness in leadership,
for as youth verged toward middle age he was repeatedly besought
to marry, that his princely line might be continued. Tired of these
importunities, and possibly not averse to the lightening of his spirit,
he consented that a wife should be sought for him, and appointed his
handsome, dashing cousin, Kalamakua, as his agent in the choice. The
cousin sailed at once for Maui, where rumor said a young woman of
rare beauty was living at the court, whose hand had been sought by
a dozen chiefs. On arriving near the shore of the king's domain
the messenger and his rowers were startled by the uprising from
the waves of a laughing, handsome face, and behold! the woman who
introduced herself in this unusual fashion was the one they sought:
Kelea, the king's sister. She had been surf-riding on her board, and
in the delight of swimming had ventured farther from shore than usual.

The captain of the canoe helped this dusky Venus to rise completely
from the sea, and as she did not wish to return at once, he put his
boat at her service for the exhilarating and risky sport of coasting
the breakers; but putting far out to meet a wave of uncommon size,
they were struck by a squall and blown so far that they found it
easier to put in for shelter near the home of Lo-Lale than to return
to Maui. The storm, the spray, the chilling gusts, compelled Kelea
to sit close in the shelter of Kalamakua's sturdy form. He levied on
the scant draperies of his crew for cloth to keep her warm, and all
the men dined scantily that she might be fed. It is not strange that
a friendship was born on that voyage between the two people who had
been so oddly introduced. Lo-Lale had never heard of John Alden and
Myles Standish, principally, no doubt, because they had not been
born, but it must be allowed in his behalf, or in hers, that he
had never seen the damsel whom he was courting thus by proxy. When
he did behold her he was vastly pleased, and as he appeared in all
the paraphernalia of his rank and instituted in her honor a series
of feasts and entertainments unparalleled in Oahu, the consent of
Kelea to a speedy marriage was obtained, a courteous notice to that
effect being sent to her relatives, who had mourned for her as lost
in the storm. He built a temple and adorned it with a statue as a
thank-offering for having blown so fair a bride to his domain. No
prettier compliment could be paid to a wife, even by a white man.

For a time Kelea was content. Lo-Lale was a kind husband, and he was
constantly studying to advance her happiness, but he was meditative and
silent; he loved the woody solitudes, while she was fond of company,
babble, sport, and especially of swimming and surf-riding. Presently
it was noticed that she laughed less. She did not welcome Lo-Lale
when he returned from his walks or his communings with Nature on
the hills. The voice of the sea was calling her,--and the voice
of Kalamakua. A separation had to come. It was without any spoken
bitterness. The husband wished her well, bestowed on her some parting
gifts, and sent her to the shore in a palanquin borne by four men and
attended by a guard of three hundred, as became her station. Kalamakua
was waiting on the beach,--Kalamakua, handsome, reckless, ardent. She
never returned to Maui. Though Lo-Lale resumed his old, still way
and kept his dignity and countenance before his people, his lament,
that has been preserved by the treasurers of island traditions for
more than four centuries, discovers a pang in his heart deeper than he
could or would have voiced when he parted from his wife. The English
version is by King Kalakaua:


"Farewell, my partner on the lowland plains,
On the waters of Pohakeo, above Kanehoa,
On the dark mountain spur of Mauna-una!
O, Lihue, she is gone!
Sniff the sweet scent of the grass,
The sweet scent of the wild vines
That are twisted by Waikoloa,
By the winds of Waiopua,
My flower!
As if a mote were in my eye.
The pupil of my eye is troubled.
Dimness covers my eyes. Woe is me!"





Next: The Resurrections Of Kaha

Previous: The Japanese Sword



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