Ata

Glyph of the word 'ata'.

ata

  • (v.) to be dry
  • (adj.) dry
  • (n.) dryness

Hena kepo o ei a ata hoya o ei…
“My body’s numb and my throat is dry…”

Notes: Here it is: Probably the most popular song ever written about the Crimean War, coming in at number 2…

Number 2
“The Trooper”

Iron Maiden's single for 'The Trooper'

Piece of Mind (1983)

“The Trooper” is an Iron Maiden classic: Dueling guitars, their characteristic “galloping” rhythm, a song about an obscure historical event also loosely based on a famous British poem… If one were to ask for a single song that epitomizes Iron Maiden, this is that song.

The lyrics draw inspiration from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. Bruce Dickinson will sometimes read portions of the poem before performing the song live (the part with the lines “Cannon to right of them / Cannon to left of them”). I think it also showcases their somewhat tangled relationship with war. Iron Maiden have a lot of songs about war (especially about famous historical battles), but, at the same time, they reject it (cf. “These Colours Don’t Run”, for example). During their songs, though, they revel in the content.

“The Trooper” is a good example. I was fortunate enough to see Iron Maiden live in San Diego, and, of course, they played “The Trooper” (I don’t think they can play a live show without playing it). At the beginning of the performance, Bruce Dickinson picks up this gigantic Union Jack flag and races to either side of the stage waving, and everyone cheers—including me—even though none of us are English. Furthermore, this song is about an English soldier who charges forth in the Battle of Balaclava and is killed. It’s a high-energy number, and sounds quite menacing, but what is being reported is an ultimately meaningless death and a folly (echoed in the lines “The bugle sounds; the charge begins / But on this battlefield no one winds”).

But to get into the spirit of the song is kind of like wearing a costume on Halloween. One adopts the attitude of the courageous soldier plunging on into certain death for a little while just to try it out. The goal, I think, is to try to imagine what it must have been like. It’s not glorifying a tragedy, but is an attempt at musical empathy. I think it’s quite effective.

Funny Kamakawi aside. I can never—ever—remember the right genitive pronoun to use; I have to look it up every single time. You’d think I’d eventually get it—or at least remember one of them consistently—but no: I just keep forgetting. I knew that bodies are inalienably possessed, and that that meant they took a particular genitive marker, but I couldn’t remember which one it was, even though it was the easiest (o). So it goes…

[Update: This is the funniest and most appalling thing I’ve seen in quite some time: A gentleman playing Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” by making farting noises with his hands. He calls himself a “manualist”. It must be seen—and heard—to be believed.]

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2 Responses to “Ata”

  1. Ka kavaka Rejistania ti:

    I feel your pain concerning the genitive pronouns. I used to confuse 5 and 9 as well as 6 and 7 al-slani-ways. These are the things which make me doubt my sanity.

  2. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    Wait… Do you mean in general (à la Monty Python), or in Rejistanian? ;)

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