Mythbusters

Kalakaua’s Famous Last Words?

"Tell my people I tried.” These are often said to be the last words of HONOLULU Magazine’s founder, King David Kalakaua. The quote has been so widely repeated, we fell prey to it ourselves in our November story about life in Honolulu, circa 1888. But when a reader disputed it, we dug into the historical record and discovered that these were not Kalakaua’s last words at all.

A short biography of Kalakaua, written in Hawaiian and published in time to sell on the day of the royal funeral, offers a slightly different but even more detailed account. Hawaiian language scholar Puakea Nogelmeier pointed us to this source, entitled Ka Mo‘olelo o ka Mo‘i Kalakaua I, and written by Joseph Poepoe, a friend of the Kalakaua family.

In this version, translated for us by Nogelmeier, the king smiles at Brown and says a few words to him, “as though giving his last and loving farewells … .” Then he says to Baker, “Aue, he kanaka au, eia i loko o ke kukonukonu o ka ma‘i!,” or “Alas, I am a man who is seriously ill.”

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s