Toutefois, je dois l’avouer, ces derniers ne présentaient pas les dimensions gigantesques notées dans le journal d’Arthur Pym, et aucun ne poussait ce sempiternel tékéli-li, qui paraissait être d’ailleurs le mot le plus usité de la langue tsalalaise.
Au milieu de cet enténèbrement effroyable passaient des bandes d’oiseaux gigantesques, d’une blancheur livide, poussant leur éternel tékéli-li, et c’est alors que le sauvage, aux suprêmes affres de l’épouvante, exhala son dernier soupir.
In the midst of this frightful darkness a flock of gigantic birds, of livid white plumage, swept by, uttering their eternal tékéli-li, and then the savage, in the supreme throes of terror, gave up the ghost.
Enfin se produisit une formidable explosion, lorsque les poudres prirent feu, – explosion qui détruisit un millier d’indigènes et en mutila autant, tandis que les autres s’enfuyaient, poussant le cri de tékéli-li !… tékéli-li!
Finally a terrific explosion took place--the fire had reached the powder store--killing a thousand natives and mutilating as many more, while the others fled, uttering the cry of tékéli-li! tékéli-li!
Thanks bilby. OK, I'll link to the book. The point is it is unclear what the word means and I know it also happened in other books of other authors, so I thought I'd collect all the citations I come across, so the meaning would emerge :-)
At the risk of seeming puerile I will add another thing, too, if only because of the surprising way Danforth's impressions chimed with mine. Of course common reading is what prepared us both to make the interpretation, though Danforth has hinted at queer notions about unsuspected and forbidden sources to which Poe may have had access when writing his Arthur Gordon Pym a century ago. It will be remembered that in that fantastic tale there is a word of unknown but terrible and prodigious significance connected with the antarctic and screamed eternally by the gigantic spectrally snowy birds of that malign region's core. "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" That, I may admit, is exactly what we thought we heard conveyed by that sudden sound behind the advancing white mist-that insidious musical piping over a singularly wide range.
If this Poe text is online, perhaps one or two citations and a link to the text would suffice. Despite the six citations thus far there's really no explanation of what tekeli-li might mean, although, granted, I now understand it is often screamed and sometimes murmured. Welcome to Wordie :-)
...They should be regarded, perhaps, in connection with some of the most faintly detailed incidents of the narrative; although in no visible manner is this chain of connection complete. Tekeli-li! was the cry of the affrighted natives of Tsalal upon discovering the carcase of the white animal picked up at sea. This also was the shuddering exclamatives of Tsalal upon discovering the carcass of the white materials in possession of Mr. Pym. This also was the shriek of the swift-flying, white, and gigantic birds which issued from the vapory white curtain of the South.
March 22d.-The darkness had materially increased, relieved only by the glare of the water thrown back from the white curtain before us. Many gigantic and pallidly white birds flew continuously now from beyond the veil, and their scream was the eternal Tekeli-li! as they retreated from our vision.
Nu-Nu was seated at my elbow, and the linen accidentally flaring in his face, he became violently affected with convulsions. These were succeeded by drowsiness and stupor, and low murmurings of "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"
To these masts we attached a sail made of our shirts-doing this with some difficulty, as here we could get no assistance from our prisoner whatever, although he bad been willing enough to labor in all the other operations. The sight of the linen seemed to affect him in a very singular manner. He could not be prevailed upon to touch it or go near it, shuddering when we attempted to force him, and shrieking out, "Tekeli-li!"
By-and-by the men with the stakes drove them in a circle around it, and no sooner was this arrangement completed, than the whole of the vast assemblage rushed into the interior of the island, with loud screams of "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"
From absolute stupor, they appeared to be, all at once, aroused to the highest pitch of excitement, and rushed wildly about, going to and from a certain point on the beach, with the strangest expressions of mingled horror, rage, and intense curiosity depicted on their countenances, and shouting, at the top of their voices, "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"