Unwritten Literature of Hawaii

Unwritten Literature of Hawaii
The Sacred Songs of the Hula

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Unwritten Literature of Hawaii by Nathaniel Bright Emerson

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1909

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Unwritten Literature of Hawaii
The Sacred Songs of the Hula

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Collected and translated with notes and an account of the Hula.

Book Excerpt

have gone to the making of its poetry, its drama, its opera, its literature.

The people were superstitiously religious; one finds their drama saturated with religious feeling, hedged about with tabu, loaded down with prayer and sacrifice. They were poetical; nature was full of voices for their ears; their thoughts came to them as images; nature was to them an allegory; all this found expression in their dramatic art. They were musical; their drama must needs be cast in forms to suit their ideas of rhythm, of melody, and of poetic harmony. They were, moreover, the children of passion, sensuous, worshipful of whatever lends itself to pleasure. How, then, could the dramatic efforts of this primitive people, still in the bonds of animalism, escape the note of passion? The songs and other poetic pieces which have come down to us from the remotest antiquity are generally inspired with a purer sentiment and a loftier purpose than the modern; and it may be said of them all that when they do step into the mud i

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