Pane Mai

An Essay by Kīhei de Silva

Haku mele: Robert Cazimero, 1978.

Discography: Robert Cazimero, Robert Cazimero (LP), Mountain Apple, 1978; re-released as RUC (CD), Mountain Apple, 2000.

Text below: Transcribed from RUC.  Translation: Kīhei de Silva.

Are you up, ku‘uipo?
I’m calling out to you
In the deep darkness of night

Answer, O answer me

Won’t you relax in my arms
And trade kisses?
I do love you so
Answer, O answer me

Won’t you turn to me
So warm in the calm?
Let’s get wrapped up in love
Answer, O answer me

Won’t you look kindly, ku‘uipo
On this love-making request
And my over-heated state?
Answer, O answer me.

Ua ala ‘oe e ku‘uipo
Kāhea ana au iā ‘oe
I ka lipolipo o ka pō
Pane mai, pane mai

Ho‘omaha ‘oe i ku‘u poli

Honi aku a honi mai

He aloha au iā ‘oe

Pane mai, pane mai

Huli huli kou kino
Pumehana i ka la‘i

Kïpuni ‘ia kāua me ke aloha
Pane mai, pane mai

‘Olu‘olu ‘oe e ku‘uipo
I kēia ho‘oipoipo nei
I ka wai welawela nui
Pane mai, pane mai

Robert Cazimero does not get enough credit for this song’s wit, economy of expression, and allusive depth. He allows us to listen-in on a one-sided, “slice of life” conversation, and he leaves us to draw our own chuckling, “yeah, I’ve been there” conclusions. Like all good poets, he shows not tells. We appreciate, as well, his subtle echoing of “Ka‘ililauokekoa,” an old, one-sided wooing song addressed to the legendary sleepy-headed princess of Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i: “E Ka‘ililauokekoa, ua moe paha ‘oe?” And we can’t shake off the impression that “Pane Mai” is Robert’s contemporary restatement of the concupiscent sentiments of “Poli Anuanu” – a song that appears (coincidentally?) on his same 1978 LP release. Robert’s mele is all about heat, and the other is all about cold.  But (in Hawaiian poetry, anyway) today’s “heat” is yesterday’s “cold.”  Both words, and the songs in which they occur, refer to passion that requires an equally passionate response.

© Kīhei de Silva, 1997. All rights reserved.
This essay was first published in Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima's 2009 Merrie Monarch Fact Sheet. 

It is offered here in slightly revised and updated form.