The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 13


Said the wayward Lemminkainen
To the Dame of Pohjola:
"Give me now one of your maidens,
Bring your girls out here to me -
Very best of all the bevy,
Tallest of the flock for me."

7 Said the Dame of Pohjola:
"I won't give you any daughter
Nor push forward any virgin,
Not the best one nor the worst one, 10
Not the tallest, not the shortest;
You've a wedded wife already,
Bedded housewife of your own."

15 Answered wayward Lemminkainen:
"Then I'll bind out Kyllikki,
Bind her at a neighbor's threshold,
Bind her at a stranger's gate;
Here I'll get a better woman.
So bring out your daughter for me,
Most adorable of virgins 20
And the loveliest of the braidheads."

23 Said the Dame of Pohjola:
"No, I will not give my daughter
To a ne'er-do-well like you,
Nor to any man unworthy.
Come and ask me for the girls,
For the flower-headed ones,
When you ski the demon's elk down
From the far-back demon's country."

31 Then the wayward Lemminkainen 30
Fixed his spearhead, strung his crossbow
And aligned his bow bolts ready,
But he posed himself a problem:
"Though my spear is ready shod,
All my club-head bolts prepared,
And my crossbow strung and ready,
I've no left ski for swift sliding
And no right ski for quick heeling."

41 There the wayward Lemminkainen
Pondered on it, thought it over: 40
Where to get the right-hand skis,
Where get any kind of skis.

45 Off to Kauppi's house he hurried,
There to Lyyiikki's own smithy:
"0 you clever Vuojelander,
Handsome Kauppi, wise Laplander!
Make me now true racing skis,
Carve out splendid right-hand skis
Swift to race the demon's elk
From the far-back demon country." 50

53 To this Kauppi answered mocking
As he hurried out the words:
"Skiing down the elk is useless;
You'll get nothing for your pains
But a hollow hunk of punkwood -
Even that much with great grief."

59 Lemminkainen was not worried,
So he answered him abruptly:
"Make a left ski for swift sliding
And a right ski for quick heeling, 60
Swift to catch the demon's elk
From the far-back demon country."

65 Lyyiikki, the smith of left skis,
Kauppi, smith of right-hand skis,
In the autumn made the left ski,
In the winter carved the right ski;
Took a day to shape the ski pole
And the next day carved the snow disks.

71 Then the left was fit for pushing
And the right one for quick heeling. 70
Now the ski pole too was ready,
And the snow disk neatly fitted;
For the pole an otter skin,
For the disk a red fox paid.

77 Then he greased his skis with butter
And with reindeer tallow slicked them.
He himself is wondering,
And he says it in these words:
"Is there any young man now
Of this growing generation 80
Who can swiftly push the left one,
Quickly kicking with the right one?"

85 Said the wayward Lemminkainen,
Spoke the ruddy rascal thus:
"Truly there is such a youth
In this growing generation
Who can swiftly push the left one,
Quickly kicking with the right one."

91 With his quiver on his back
And his new bow on his shoulder, 90
Deftly handling now his ski pole
Lemminkainen went his way;
Started pushing with the left ski,
Quickly kicking with the right one,
And he boasted as he went:
"Nothing's under God's own sky,
Underneath this lid of heaven,
Not a creature in the forest,
Not a single four-foot runner,
None that cannot be surprised, 100
None that can't be overtaken
By the skis of Kaleva's son,
By the speed of Lemminkainen."

105 Happened that the demons heard him,
And they saw a chance for mischief.
So an elk they fabricated,
And the devils made a reindeer:
For the head, a hollow stump,
For the horns, a fork of sallow;
Legs of shore-line switches woven, 110
Fen-grown saplings for the shanks,
And a fence rail for a backbone;
Sinews made of withered grasses,
Eyes of yellow water lilies
And the ears of lily pads;
Made the flesh of rotten wood
Covered with a skin of spruce bark.

119 Hiisi then exhorts the elk,
Urges on the goblin reindeer:
"Run now, run you demon's elk! 120
Leg it quick, you noble4 creature
To the calving grounds of Lapland,
Where the reindeer drop their young
On the field of Lapland children.
Ski this fellow to a sweat;
Sweat him dry, this Lemminkainen."

127 Then the goblin reindeer ran,
Headlong ran the elk of Hiisi,
Galloped past the barns of Northland,
Through the yards of Lapland children. 130
In the tents upset the buckets,
Kicked the kettles off the fire;
Dumped the meat stews in the ashes,
Spilled the sauces in the cinders.

135 From the yards arose an uproar,
From the yards of Lapland children:
Dogs were barking, children crying
And the Lappish women laughing,
All the other folk complaining!

141 Lemminkainen, all the while, 140
Chasing down the elk of Hiisi,
Skiing over field and fen
And across the open clearings.
From his skis fire was spurting,
And his ski-stick points were smoking -
But the elk ran out of sight,
Out of sight and out of hearing.

149 He skied over hill and hollow
And the lands beyond the sea,
Over demon wildernesses, 150
Heaths of Kalma, the Grave Spirit,
And before the mouth of Doom,
Back of Raima's great estate.
The Grave Spirit tilts his head up,
And the mouth of Doom is open
Wide to take the fellow in
And to swallow Lemminkainen,
But he missed him altogether,
Could not manage it in time.

l6l Still there was a spot unskied, 160
Backwoods corner still untouched
In the Northland wild backcountry,
In the barrens of broad Lapland.
Even to that place he skied
To explore that backwoods corner.

167 Thus as he was getting nearer
There he heard a. great commotion
From the far-back Northland country,
From the yards of Lapland children:
He heard the barking of the dogs, 170
Crying of the Lappish children,
Lapland women loudly laughing,
And the other Lapps complaining.

175 Then the wayward Lemminkainen
Turned his skis in that direction,
Where he heard the watchdogs barking
In the yards of Lapland children.

179 When he got there he inquired:
"Why were all the women laughing,
Women laughing, children crying, 180
And the old folk all complaining?
What were the gray dogs barking for?"

185 "This is why the women laughed,
Women laughed and children cried,
Why the old folk were complaining
And the gray dogs all were howling:
Through the yard a goblin ran,
Ran the slick-hoof, ran the demon,
Overturning tubs and buckets,
Kicking kettles off the fire; 190
Dumping meat stews in the ashes,
Spilling sauces on the cinders."

195 Thereupon the ruddy rascal,
He the wayward Lemminkainen,
Slid his left ski on the snow
Like an adder in the stubble,
And the bog-pine ski, the right one,
Slithered like a living serpent.
As he started pole in hand
These commands he flung back at them: 200
"Let the menfolk all be carriers,
Carriers of the elk I'll capture;
All the women here in Lapland,
Let them scour out all the kettles;
All the children here in Lapland,
Let them gather all the kindling;
All the kettles here in Lapland,
All for cooking of the elk."

211 Kicking, straining all his muscles,
He put on a burst of speed: 210
With the first kick, out of sight,
With the second, out of hearing,
With the third kick, flank to flank;
Overtook the demon's elk.

219 Then he snatched a maple stake
With a loop of birchen withes;
Tied the goblin to the stake
In an oaken pen, and said:
"Stand there now, you elk of Hiisi;

Dance, you pretty, prancing reindeer." 220
225 There he stroked the creature's back,
Smoothing down his handsome hide:
"There's a soft bed for me here;
What a smooth pad that, to lie on
With a sweetheart by my side,
Sweet young chick just budding out."

231 Then the goblin elk got angry,
And the reindeer started kicking,
And the beast itself exclaimed:
"Let the devil be procurer, 230
Hiisi get you girls to sleep with,
Find you women to fool around with."

237 Then it broke out on a rampage,
Broke the bonds of birchen withes,
Snapped the stake of maple wood,
Kicked apart the oak corral.
It set out to speed away,
Off it galloped on its flight,
Speeding over field and fen,
Over bushy hillsides fleeing 240
Out of sight and out of hearing.

247 There the ruddy rascal raged,
Fumed with fury and with vengeance,
Angered to the point of madness;
After the demon elk he skied.
When he kicked off for the start,
At the strap the left ski broke,
Breaking, cracking at the foot plate,
And the right ski at the heel
As his pole's point popped away 250
And the disk came off its fittings,
As the elk of Hiisi galloped
Till its head was out of sight.

259 Standing there, Lemminkainen
Bowed his head, stunned, bewildered,
Gazing at his scattered gear.
Then he voiced his feelings thus:
"Never, never in all time
Let another of our men
Armed with arrogance alone 260
Go out hunting in the forest,
Skiing down the demon's elk
As did I, unlucky fool!
I have ruined the best of skis
And my handsome ski pole too -
That, the readiest of my spears!"


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