This anthology embraces a wide variety of compositions: it ranges from song-poems of the Pele and Hiiaka cycle and the pre-Christian Shark Hula for Ka-lani-opuu to postmissionary chants and gospel hymns. These later selections date from the reign of Ka-mehameha III (1825-1854) to that of Queen Liliu-o-ka-lani (1891-1893) and comprise the major portion of the book. They include, along with heroic chants celebrating nineteenth-century Hawaiian monarchs, a number of works composed by commoners for commoners, such as Bill the Ice Skater, Mr. Thurston's Water-Drinking Brigade, and The Song of the Chanter Kaehu. Kaehu was a distinguished leper-poet who ended his days at the settlement-hospital on Molokai.
Mary Kawena Pukui was a noted authority on the Hawaiian language. She had a long professional association with the Bernice P. Bishop Museum and translated many Hawaiian historical documents. She coauthored, with Samuel H. Elbert, the Hawaiian Dictionary and Place Names of Hawaii.
Alfons L. Korn taught English at the University of Hawaii. He authored The Victorian Visitors: An Account of the Hawaiian Kingdom, 1861-1866, edited News from Molokai: Letters between Peter Kaeo & Queen Emma, 1873-1876, and contributed to Pacific Historical Review and the Hawaiian Journal of History.
The grammar was written with every student of the Hawaiian language in mind - from the casual interested layperson to the professional linguist and grammarian. Although it was obviously impossible to avoid technical terms, their use was kept to a minimum, and a glossary is included for those who need its help. Each point of grammar is illustrated with examples, many from Hawaiian-language literature.