Kumulipo & Pōhāhā I Ka Lani
The Hawaiian Creation Chant and it's inspiration for Pōhāhā I Ka Lani
Pōhāhā comes primarily from Ka Wā Ekolu (The Third Era) of the Kumulipo.
The Kumulipo is the expansive creation chant that speaks of the birth of all things & life on Earth, describing the sequence and pairings of life that our ancestors passed down orally for generations.
There are multiple written records of the Kumulipo, with King David Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani being the most prominent. American folklore scholar Martha Warren Beckwith also published a translation of the Kumulipo based on Kalākaua's text.
Below are excerpts from Ka Wā Ekolu of the Beckwith translation of Kalakaua's text where the term pohaha is used, either as an action (verb) or name.
Ho‘ohaha ka po-niuauae‘ae‘a, O ho‘oulu i ka lau palaiali‘i, Hanau ka pua a ka Haha
Leaders growing in the dawning, sprouting forth many shoots from Pōhāhā
0273. O kane ia, o ka wahine kela
A male this, the female that
0274. O kane hanau i ke auau po-‘ele‘ele
A male born in the time of black darkness
0275. O ka wahine hanau i ke auau po-haha
The female born in the time of groping in the darkness
0276. Ho‘ohaha ke kai, ho‘ohaha ka uka
Overshadowed was the sea, overshadowed the land
0277. Ho‘ohaha ka wai, ho‘ohaha ka mauna
Overshadowed the streams, overshadowed the mountains
0278. Ho‘ohaha ka po-niuauae‘ae‘a
Overshadowed the dimly brightening night
0279. Ulu ka Haha na lau eiwa
The rootstalk grew forming nine leaves
0280. Ulu nioniolo ka lau pahiwa
Upright it grew with dark leaves
0281. O ho‘oulu i ka lau palaiali‘i
The sprout that shot forth leaves of high chiefs
0282. Hanau o Po-‘ele‘ele ke kane
Born was Po‘ele‘ele the male
0283. Noho ia e Pohaha he wahine
Lived with Pohaha a female
0284. Hanau ka pua a ka Haha
The rootstalk sprouted Hanau ka Haha
Paʻa ka honua i na keiki manu a ka pohaha, He au pohaha wale i ka mu-kā,
The dawning light spreads forth, fledglings flying into the dawn
0365. O ka leina keia a ka manu o Halulu
This is the flying place of the bird Halulu
0366. O Kiwa‘a, o ka manu kani halau
Of Kiwa‘a, the bird that cries over the canoe house
0367. O ka manu lele auna a pa‘a ka La
Birds that fly in a flock shutting out the sun
0368. Pa‘a ka honua i na keiki manu a ka pohaha
The earth is covered with the fledgelings of the night breaking into dawn
0369. He au pohaha wale i ka mu-ká
The time when the dawning light spreads abroad
0370. O ka hahu ‘ape manewanewa
The young weak ‘ape plant rises
0371. O ka holili ha‘ape lau manamana
A tender plant with spreading leaves
0372. O ka manamana o ka hanau po
A branching out of the nightborn
0373. O po wale kela
Nothing but darkness that
0374. O po wale keia
Nothing but darkness this
0375. O po wale ke au ia Po‘ele‘ele
Darkness alone for Po‘ele‘ele
0376. O poni wale ke au ia Pohaha, ka po
A time of dawn indeed for Pohaha
Still it is night
Po-haha, from pohā, "to break forth, to appear suddenly"
"Pōhāhā ka lani, said symbolically of the perpetuation of the intelligent class, perhaps originally of the chief class."
The generating agents Po-ʻeleʻele, “Dark-night,” and Pohaha, “Night-just-breaking-into-dawn,” again suggest the idea of a constant approach to “light” in successive stages of the worldʻs growth. The name Po-haha, from the word pohá, “to break forth, to appear suddenly,” continues the play on the key word. In common use are the sayings Pohá mai ka la, “the sun breaks forth,” said of the first ray of the sun at dawn; pohakea for the place where it shows itself; pohaha ka la, said of its habitual rising; poháhá ka lani, said symbolically of the perpetuation of the intelligent class, perhaps originally of the chief class.
Pōhāhā I Ka Lani
Linguistic Definitions of Pōhāhā I Ka Lani
pō : 1. nvs. Night, darkness, obscurity; the realm of the gods; pertaining to or of the gods...; formerly the period of 24 hours beginning with nightfall (the Hawaiian “day” began at nightfall, cf. ao 1.)
pō- : Time of, state of
hā : 2. nvi. To breathe, exhale; to breathe upon, as kava after praying and before prognosticating; breath, life; 4. nvs. Stalk that supports the leaf and enfolds the stem of certain plants, as taro, sugar cane; layers in a banana stump. Cf. ʻohana. (PPN faʻa.
hāhā : 1. vt. To grope, feel, as with the hands. (For. 6:111.) Kahuna hāhā, an expert who diagnoses, as sickness or pain, by feeling the body. (PPN faafaa.); 2. Same as hā, stalk [such as kalo]
i : 1. Part. marking direct and indirect object, agent, source (indefinite), instrument, causation. To, towards, at, in, on, by, because of, for, due to, by means of.
ka : 1. Definite singular article...usually translated ‘the’
lani: 1. nvs. Sky, heaven; heavenly, spiritual.