Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/183

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Collectanea. J 73

which I had with the Samoan language, but, at my suggestion, he wrote down at his leisure any songs, proverbs, stories, riddles, etc., of which he had any knowledge. From time to time, some- times at intervals of several months, he brought me what he had written, and I gave him a present and more paper. He lived several miles away from my house, and I had little or no inter- course with him except when he brought me the sheets which he had written, and he had no intercourse with any other white man. During the course of four or five years, this collection grew to about 600 pages of closely written matter. Of its value it is sufficient to say that the late Rev. George Pratt, in the preface to the third edition of his Grammar and Dictionary of the Samoan Language, says : " From a volume of MSS. songs written out by a native poet, and lent to me by the Rev. George Brown, I culled 500 new words." This was after many years spent in collecting words from the previous editions. Most of the proverbs given in the same book (pp. 50-52) were also extracted by Mr. Pratt from the same collection. The stories were written by a Samoan in his own home, and without any promptings or assistance from any white man, and that, in my opinion, makes them both interesting and valuable.

I have selected for translation some of the Nature Myths, which, I think, show the development of pre-animistic ideas to those which represent the results of many years' close observation of natural phenomena, whilst still retaining traces of the original opinions which were held by previous generations.

In the following translations I have endeavoured to preserve the idiom of the language and to give a literal translation of the writer's words, even at the cost of clearness in some passages.

The Story of the War betiveen Birds and Fishes.

"Thus the story goes. There was a great fight and the birds were defeated. Then the story of the defeat of the birds says that they did not act thoughtlessly but meditated on their defeat. But the fishes, it is said, boasted foolishly, thinking erroneously that the birds were defeated because the crab was captured and turned into a turtle, and the frigate bird was captured. That was the spoil (or trophy) of the Fuga. The pigeon also was