Favorite Hawaiian Songs - translators note

A collection of 42 favourite songs with Sheet Music - Piano and Lyrics

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With the polysyllabic smoothness of the Hawaiian tongue, boasting all onr vowels and eliminating all our harder consonants, it is an impossible task to render into metrical English the rhythm and equivalent meaning of the verses of these stalwart islanders. The Hawaiian bard is phonetic in thought, presenting a series of swiftly changing pictures, the apparent lack of connections between which causes hesitation in the mind of the listener unfamiliar with the scenes the poet presents and unaccustomed to the hyperbole of his description. The Hawaiian singer deals in parables, as it were. There is a double meaning in every sentence; often in every word. Each poem is an anagram, the meaning of which is patent to the native listeners but a puzzle to those who have learned the sound but not the heart of the language or to those who see the thoughts literally translated. Then the accent swiftly changing in a subtle tone the meaning of a word or sentence, the swiftness of the outpoured speech, like a mountain stream, halting a moment here, skipping a rock there, bubbling, hesitating, but ever rhythmical, makes the task of exchanging the native text for English words that will at once preserve the meaning and the metro, a herculean one. Nevertheless, those who play these airs of the Southern seas, breathing the song of the palm, the surf, the deep valleys, the tall mountains, of constellations unknown to colder climes, naturally wish to have some idea of the character of the melodies, whereby they may glean some idea of the race and spirit that evoked the song. It should be remembered that every English speaking Hawaiian would translate these songs differently. It must be remembered that while the native syllables can be made to fit eighth and sixteenth notes easily enough, our own syllables cannot be placed as readily. To sing a Hawaiian melody to English words that preserve the metre and meaning, is a wonderful achievement. The translations are meant rather as a guide to the meaning of the song than to be sung to the rippling notes of the melodies.


E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III