Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, KAPIOLANI, by ALFRED TENNYSON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

KAPIOLANI, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When from the terrors of nature a people have fashion'd and worship a spirit
Last Line: Demon from hawa-I-ee.
Alternate Author Name(s): Tennyson, Lord Alfred; Tennyson, 1st Baron; Tennyson Of Aldworth And Farringford, Baron
Subject(s): Hawaii; Kapiolani (hawaiian Chietainess); Volcanoes


WHEN from the terrors of Nature a people have fashion'd and
worship a Spirit of Evil,
Blest be the Voice of the Teacher who calls to them
'Set yourselves free!'


Noble the Saxon who hurl'd at his Idol a valorous weapon in
olden England!
Great and greater, and greatest of women, island heroine, Kapiolani
Clomb the mountain, and flung the berries, and dared the
Goddess, and freed the people
Of Hawa-i-ee!


A people believing that Peele the Goddess would wallow in
fiery riot and revel
On Kilauea,
Dance in a fountain of flame with her devils, or shake with
her thunders and shatter her island,
Rolling her anger
Thro' blasted valley and flaring forest in blood-red
cataracts down to the sea!


Long as the lava-light
Glares from the lava-lake
Dazing the starlight,
Long as the silvery vapor in daylight
Over the mountain
Floats, will the glory of Kapiolani be mingled with either
on Hawa-i-ee.


What said her Priesthood?
'Woe to this island if ever a woman should handle or gather
the berries of Peele!
Accursed were she!
And woe to this island if ever a woman should climb to the
dwelling of Peele the Goddess!
Accursed were she!'


One from the Sunrise
Dawn'd on His people, and slowly before him
Vanish'd shadow-like
Gods and Goddesses,
None but the terrible Peele remaining as Kapiolani ascended
her mountain,
Baffled her priesthood,
Broke the Taboo,
Dipt to the crater,
Call'd on the Power adored by the Christian, and crying 'I
dare her, let Peele avenge herself'!
Into the flame-billow dash'd the berries, and drove the
demon from Hawa-i-ee.

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