Selection from Homer’s Iliad, 1868.

WRITING.

Greetings to you [E weli aku ana ia oe] O Maaa wind of my beloved land moistened by the light showers of Winter, and the fragrance-carrying Puulena wind of Mahamoku: O Honele Ihuanu of Albion,¹ aloha to you. It was many years ago when I was overcome by a sudden desire for the poems of the Iliad, the book of Homer of the Greeks, along with the Aeneid of Virgil of the Romans, as I assumed that these mele books were the greatest compositions of the world. I had a great desire to read wisely the lines which brought delight to my mind—however, I was held back by a great cliff from which I was not able to leap and dive to the other side where my mind desired, being that it was written in a superior foreign language reaching the very core of the tongue, which these lips could not mouth; the classical language of those poems. And because I saw these mele in English, translated by someone skilled in those classical languages, that is the reason I thought to bring it into our own language so that you as well may see some of those poems; and perhaps there will be some of you who will hold the past in high regard just as I do. The nature of this mele composed below is a conversation between Hector (a fearless Warrior of Troy) and his wife, Andromache, when they were being warred upon by Greece: The composition of this mele is near factual; and it is truly beautiful. Thus:

“A! e ke alii wiwo ole, i hea la oe e holo aku ai?
A hoopoina loa hoi i kau wahine a me kau keiki.
Aole anei ou manao i ka nui o ko maua pilikia?
Ia’u, he wahine kane ole, a me iala hoi he keiki makua ole? Continue reading