Behold This Lovely World

"Waterfall-No. III-Iao Valley"
Georgia O'Keeffe 1939

I'm putting together an anthology in my mind.  I am organizing all the great writers and artists and poets who passed through Hawaii and putting them together in one beautiful imaginary coffee table book to look at any time I want to revisit the islands. It will be filled with the specific stories, quotes and images that have made my personal experience (and many countless others' experiences) of Hawaii so much richer.  There is to be an imaginary accompanying audio file with conch shells, traditional chants, drum circles, slack-key, ukelele music and surf songs. Perhaps I'll include all the writers reading their stories and all the artists reading their letters from the islands.  A partial line-up:  Herman Melville working in Honolulu, Mark Twain hiking Haleakala, Robert Louis Stevenson hanging out with King Kalakaua, Jack London sailing his yacht here, Georgia O'Keeffe bucking her commission to paint pineapples, Ansel Adams snapping photos, W.S. Merwin studying Zen Buddhism and then planting a sanctuary of palm trees over the next 40 years.  And then there are all the chants, myths, songs and poetry of the Hawaiians themselves in their soft and lilting vowel-flooded language. Such as this one, Behold This Lovely World, which will be the title of my imaginary book:

E'Ike Mai

I luna la, i luna
Na manu o ka lewa

I lalo la, i lalo
Na pua o ka honua

I uka la, i uka
Na ulu la'au

I kai la, i kai
Na i'a o ka moana

Ha'ina mai ka puana
A he nani ke ao nei


Above, above
all birds in air

Below, below 
all earth's flowers

Inland, inland
all forest trees

Seaward, seaward
all ocean fish

Sing out and say
again the refrain

Behold this lovely world.

~Hawaiian Chant composed by Mary Kawena Pukui

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