Monday, May 5, 2008

King David Kalakaua and Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson at the age of 38 set sail for the South Seas on a chartered schooner called the Casco. Having come from a family of well-known Scottish lighthouse engineers he had developed a great love of the sea, and suffering from tuberculosis since childhood was hoping to find a climate that would improve his health. He arrived in Honolulu in January 1889 where he became good friends with King Kalakaua, the reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Islands.
King David Kalakaua was considered by his friend to be a “cultured intellectual” and had a keen interest in politics, sports, literature and music. He gave his chief patronage to music, from the ancient chants to the walz and was instrumental in restoring to the public the performance of the hula. He was also a poet and lyricist and one of his legacies to his people was his “Hymn to Kamehameha” known today as "Hawai`i Pono`i". It was the national anthem of the Hawaiian Monachy and today is their State Song.
King David passed away in San Francisco, California on January 20th, 1891 and Robert Louis Stevenson passed away in Samoa on December 3rd, 1894.
On Stevenson's tombstone there is the following:
“Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”
It is a poem I have known since childhood.

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