Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aloha Oe: The Geography of Oahu in Song



The song "Aloha Oe" is a classic Hawaiian song frequently sung to express loneliness, homesickness, love, and even Hawaiianess.  The song was composed by then Princess, and future Queen, Liliuokalani in 1877 during a tour of the island of Oahu.  The most accepted story is the princess based the song off the love one of her officers had for a Hawaiian female farmgirl.


http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&q=oahu&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=32.939885,79.013672&vpsrc=6&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Oahu&t=m&ll=20.262197,-157.697754&spn=7.210414,9.338379&z=6&iwloc=A" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map

While the tune is deeply associated with the Hawaiian islands in many minds, the lyrics themselves also express the geography of eastern Oahu, where Liliuokalani was when she thought up the song.

English Lyrics

Proudly swept the rain by the cliffs
As it glided through the trees
Still following ever the bud
The `ahihi lehua of the vale
 
Chorus:
Farewell to you, farewell to you
The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace,
'Ere I depart
Until we meet again

Sweet memories come back to me
Bringing fresh remembrances
Of the past
Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
From you, true love shall never depart

I have seen and watched your loveliness
The sweet rose of Maunawili
And 'tis there the birds of love dwell
And sip the honey from your lips
The first line mentions rainswept cliffs.  The princess was leaving Maunawili in eastern Oahu when she first started thinking of the song.  Eastern Oahu is the windward side and is frequently hit by rain showers.  The cliffs, formed due to Oahu's volcanic history, act as a barrier which causes the eastern side to receive even more rain than it would if the island were flat.

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