Translator's notes

Four Samoan Children's Poems

By Samoan Folk-Songs

Original texts (with English literal versions) from Some Folk-Songs
and Myths from Samoa
, by John Fraser (1895). I have been faithful to the rhymes and content.

The Samoan tale of the Octopus and the Rat is an old story. The
Rat, saved by an Octopus after his boat and his friends sink at sea,
is taken to shore on the Octopus’s head. He leaves there, as a thank-you gift, a blob of droppings. The Octopus is not pleased. He swears
he will destroy the Rat if ever they meet again. Cowrie shells in the
shape of rats are still used in the Pacific to catch octopuses.

Building an outrigger canoe is an ongoing job on all the Islands.
The little poem is both a children’s counting chant, and a picture reminder of the parts of a canoe. You can find them at and many other websites.

The Samoan crab is a ‘large, active and aggressive carnivorous
species’ (says an expert), and is frightening and fun for children
when they see one. Perhaps the poem shows it is better not to be
alone, or to go walking somewhere else, when the Scylla Serrata is

The World Weather Survey tells us that ‘there is a lot of rain in
Samoa in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August,
September, October, November and December’. So, of course, there
have to be different Types of Rain. Missionaries from the London
Missionary Society arrived with their Christianity in Samoa in the
1830s. Samoa is now 98% Christian.

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