THE DEATH OF LEMMINKAINEN
Thought it over, pondered on it,
Which way should he now proceed,
Which of two paths should he follow:
Quit the hunting of the elk
And just go back home alone,
Or to try the chase once more
Skiing round just leisurely,
Please the mistress of the forest
And the daughters of the wild? 10
11 Then he speaks out in these words,
Says it in these sentences:
"O thou Ukko, God of gods,
Thou, the father of the heavens!
Make a pair of straight skis for me,
Pair of swift skis, left and right,
With which I may glide on lightly
Out across the fields and fens
To the very haunts of Hiisi,
Across the heathlands of the North 20
On the heels of Hiisi's elk,
On the running reindeer's track.
23 "To the woods I go from men,
To my labors in the open
Out along the trails of Tapio
And by way of Topic's houses.
Greetings to you, hills and mountains,
Greetings to the humming fir woods,
Greetings to the light green aspens -
Welcome now the one who greets you. 30
31 "Gently, spirit of the woodlands,
Softly, master of the wilds,
Lead me to that wooded island,
To the hidden hillock take me
Where the quarry can be caught
And the booty brought to bay.
37 "Nyyrikki, son of Tapio,
I Clear-skinned red-cap of the forest,
Blaze a trail across the country
And set guideposts on the hills 40
That a stupid man may follow,
Utter stranger find his way
While he's hunting down the quarry,
Scouring through the forest for it.
45 "Mielikki, the forest mistress,
Fair of figure, clear-skinned matron!
Set your golden game in motion!
Let your silver come before me
On the pathway of the hunter,
On the footsteps of the seeker, so
51 "Take the golden keys that jingle
On the ring against your thigh;
Open wide the stores of Tapio,
Unlock the fortress of the forest
On the day that I go hunting,
While I'm tracking down the quarry!
57 "But if you are shy to do it,
Call upon your serving maids,
Give the task then to your hirelings,
To the hearers of commands'. 60
You would be no mistress here
If you kept no serving girls,
At the least a hundred of them,
Or a thousand order-takers,
Guardians of your roaming herds,
Shepherdesses of your flocks.
67 "Little pet maid of the woodlands,
Topic's maiden, honey-mouth!
Play now on your honey pipe,
Piping it so honey-sweet 70
In the ear of your good mistress,
Pleasing mistress of the woodland,
So that she may hear it clearly
And awaken from her sleeping,
Since she does not even waken
To my ceaseless supplication,
Though I clack with golden tongue."
79 There the wayward Lemminkainen,
Roaming gameless all this time,
Skied the lowlands and the highlands, 80
Skied the backwoods and the barrens,
Far as God's own charcoal hill
And the burnt-out heaths of Hiisi.
85 Skied the first day, skied the second,
On the third he climbed a mountain;
From a big rock on the mountain
Cast a glance to northwestward,
Northward looked across the marshes.
There he saw the house of Tapio
Where its doors were gleaming golden 90
From the north across the marshes,
Through the scrub below the hill.
95 Lemminkainen hurried toward it,
Crept right under Tapio's window;
Stretching up and leaning over,
Peered in through the sixth bright window:
Saw the old wives living there-
There the givers of the games,
Keepers of the hunter's crop,
Lounging in their working clothes, 100
Rumpled, ragged in old tatters.
105 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:
"How now, mistress of the woodland,
Living there in working clothes,
In those wrinkled thresher's rags,
And so very black your figure,
Your appearance simply awful
With the front of you so filthy,
Your whole body looking ugly?
113 "When I last was in the wilds, 110
I beheld three woodland castles:
One of wood, one of bone,
And a third one built of stone.
On each side of each great castle
Six bright golden windows gleaming,
And I looked in through the window
As I stood beneath the wall:
There the master and the mistress
And their daughter, Tellervo,
With the rest of Topic's people, 120
All were jingling with bright gold
And were swaggering round in silver.
As for Mielikki herself,
Kindly matron of the woodland,
On her arms were golden bracelets,
Golden rings upon her fingers,
Golden fillet on her head
And her curls were also golden,
Beads of beauty round her neck
And her earrings gleaming golden. 130
135 "Darling mistress of the forest,
Honey matron of the woodland,
Throw away those hay-stuffed boots,
Your birchbark shoes for swidden work,"
And strip off those threshers' rags
And take off that work shirt too!
Now put on your lucky dress
And your booty-favoring bodice
On the days that I go hunting,
While I'm searching for the quarry! 140
I am getting weary wandering
Empty-handed all this while,
Bored unless you give me something,
Give me something now and then.
But you pay me no attention
Since no game has come my way.
Long the day and sad the evening
For the empty-handed hunter.
153 "Old man of the forest-graybeard,
Piny-hatted, lichen-coated - 150
Clothe the woodlands in fine linen,
Dress the backwoods up in broadcloth,
Aspens all in light blue jackets,
Alders in their choice array.
Wreathe the evergreens in silver
And the spruces all in gold,
Tall old firs with belts of copper,
And the pines in belts of silver.
Birches deck with golden flowers
And the stumps with gilded trinkets. 160
Now bring back the splendor here
As it was in better days:
Like the moon in fir boughs gleaming,
Like the sun in pinetops shining,
And the forest filled with odors,
Smell of mead and smell of honey
Through the wide blue haze of woodland;
Smell ofsweetwort round the clearings,
Swamps the smell of melted butter.
173 "Woodland girl, willing maiden, 170
Windmaid, daughter of old Tapio!
Drive the quarry from its lair
Out into the widest clearings!
If they lumber lazily
Or are stubborn in their going,
Take a whipperfrom a thicket,
Snatch a birch rod from a hollow,
Using it to tickle a rump
Or to prod a groin to speed them.
Make them hurry, running quickly, 180
Where the hunter hides in ambush,
Waiting for the coming quarry.
187 "When the game is on the run
Chase it down along the track;
Place your palms, one on each side,
As a fencing to enclose them
So they cannot leave the trail,
Turning suddenly aside.
If the game should jump the track,
Suddenly swerving to the side, 190
Lead them back on by the ears
Or else drag them by their horns.
197 "Is old pine brush in the way?
Then just heave it to one side.
Fallen tree trunk in the path?
Break in two and toss away.
201 "If a fence comes in the way,
Tip it till it's leaning over;
Tie it down then with five withes,
Tie it at each seventh stake. 200
205 "If a river runs before you
Or a brook across the trail,
Cross it with a silken bridge
And a red cloth for a stepway.
Guide them thus across the gulf,
Lead them forth across the water,
Over the river of Pohjola,
Over the foaming cataract!
213 "Mistress of. the house of Tapio,
Master of the house of Tapio, 210
Venerable graybeard of the forest,
Golden king of woodland haunts!
Mimerkki, the forest mistress,
Matron, giver of the game,
Bush-wife in your sky-blue mantle,
Fenland mistress in red stockings!
Come now to exchange our gold
And to barter off our silver.
Here is gold the age of moonlight
And my silver, old as sunlight, 220
Long ago brought from the war,
from the risk of battle threat.
They just wear out in my wallet,
Tarnish in my tinder box
If there's none to change my gold,
Barter for my waiting silver."
231 So the wayward Lemmmkainen
For a long time went on skiing,
Singing songs in glade and grove,
Thrice along the forest aisles. 230
Pleased the matron of the forest,
Even Tapio himself,
And delighted all their daughters,
All the virgins of the wild.
239 They chased and ran the demon's elk,
Drove him from his hidden lair
From behind the wooded hill,
From the stronghold of the demon
To the pathway of the huntsman,
Where the singer waited for him. 240
245 Lemminkainen twirled his lariat
Over the shoulders of the elk,
Round the neck of the camel's colt,
Which prevented it from kicking
When he went to stroke its back.
251 Then the wayward Lemminkainen
Spoke the offertory words:
"Lord of backwoods and landmaster,
Handsome dweller on the heath,
Mielikki, woodland matron, 250
Kindly giver of the game!
Come now, take my offered gold
And accept my silver pieces.
Place your linen on the ground,
Spread your favorite linen out,
There to catch the gleaming gold,
To contain the shining silver;
See that none of its spills over
To be dirtied in the dust."
265 Then he rode to Pohjola, 260
On arriving he announced:
"I skied down the demon's elk
From the far-back demon country.
Woman, give me now your daughter,
For my fair young bride-to-be."
271 But dame Louhi answered him:
"Quite so: I will give my daughter,
You may have your bride, but only
When you've bridled the Big Brown,
That great gelding of the demon, 270
Hiisi's colt with foaming jaws
In the far-back demon meadows."
279 Then the wayward Lemminkainen,
Taking up his golden reins
And the silver-mounted halter
Went to hunt the horse of Hiisi,
Searching for the golden-mane
In the far-back demon meadows.
285 Stepping lightly, he went hurrying
Over verdant meadow lands 280
Till he reached the sacred plain.
There he hunted for the horse,
Looking for the flaxen-mane;
On his belt the yearling's reins,
With the harness on his shoulders.
293 Searched for one day, searched a second,
Climbed a big hill on the third;
Climbed a rock upon the summit
Whence he looked out to the eastward,
Glancing also to the southward. 290
There he saw the golden-mane
On a sand patch in a fir grove:
From its hair fire was flaming,
From its mane the smoke upstreaming.
303 Then did Lemminkainen pray:
"O thou Ukko, God of gods,
Ukko, keeper of the clouds,
Ruler of the random cloudlets!
Open up the heavens wide,
All the windows of the sky," 300
Rain the iron hailstones down,
Let the freezing sleet descend
On the mane and on the flanks
Of this blaze-browed demon gelding."
313 Ukko, the supreme Creator,
The great God above the clouds,
Stirred the firmament to fury,
Split the lid of heaven open;
Pelted sleet and poured out slush,
Iron hailstones hurtling down- 310
Smaller than a horse's head,
Bigger than a human skull -
On the mane and on the flanks
Of the blaze-browed demon gelding.
323 Then the wayward Lemminkainen
Went to look it over nearer,
To inspect the beast more closely.
Coaxingly he spoke to it:
"Well, good horse of Demonland,
Foam-chin colt of Demon Mountain, 320
Stretch out now your golden muzzle
And thrust in your silver head
To this golden bridle here
With its rings and silver bells.
I will never treat you harshly,
Never drive you very hard;
In short stretches at a time
I will drive on lap by lap
Yonder up to Pohjola
To my cranky mother-in-law's. 330
If I slap you with the reins,
Flip a switch along your flank,
It will be but silken line
Or a strip of softest broadcloth."
343 Hiisi's brown horse, foam-chin colt,
Stretched its golden muzzle forward
And he thrust its silver head
In the golden bridle there
With its rings and silver bells.
349 Thus indeed did Lemminkainen 340
Quickly bridle the great gelding:
Bit into the golden mouth,
Bridle on the silver head.
Then he leaped upon its back,
On the blaze-browed demon gelding.
355 Smacked the racer with a switch,
Slapped it with a willow shoot;
Drove a little farther on,
Trotted up a barren slope
To the north side of a mountain, 350
Over a monstrous ridge of snow
To the house of Pohjola,
Through the dooryard to the hall,
And arriving there he said:
"I have bridled the great gelding,
Harnessed Hiisi's foam-chin colt
In the verdant meadow lands,
On the sacred meadow's border -
And skied down the demon elk
In the way-back field of Hiisi. 360
Woman, give me now your daughter;
Give her to me for my bride."
373 But dame Louhi answered only:
"Then I'll give my daughter to you,
Give her for your bride-to-be
When you shoot the beautiful bird,
Shoot the swan of Tuonela
Swimming on the death-dark river
By the sacred river's whirlpool
With one shot and one arrow, 370
Taking but a single arrow."
383 Then the wayward Lemminkainen,
He the handsome man far-minded,
Went to where the swan was singing,
Hunting for the long-neck bird
From the lower depths of Mana,
Through the caverns of the dead.
389 With his crossbow on his shoulder
And his quiver on his back,
He went on to Death's dark river 380
Where the sacred whirlpool twisted,
Stepping quickly, swinging lightly.
395 There was Wet-hat, the cowherder,
Blind old man of Pohjola
Watching there by Tuoni's river.
At the sacred river's whirlpool
He looks about, he shifts about,
Expecting Lemminkainen's coming.
401 Now upon a certain day
He saw wayward Lemminkainen 390
Coming nearer, getting closer
To the river of Tuonela,
Coming to the angry rapids,
To the sacred river's whirlpool.
407 He roused up a water dragon,
Stalk of cowbane from the river;
Thrust it through the man's heart,
Straight through Lemminkainen's liver,
And by way of13 his left armpit
Into his right shoulder blade. 400
413 Ahti felt the poison in him,
Felt the deadly pain go through him,
And he thought with bitter anguish:
"This the worst that I have done,
Not remembering to inquire
Of my mother, of my bearer,
For at least two magic charms,
Powerful ones, perhaps for three -
How to live or how behave
In these days of evil omen. 410
I've no charm to heal the wounds
Inflicted by a water dragon
Or a cowbane-poisoned arrow.
425 "O my mother, you who bore me,
Suffered, watching over me!
If you knew, if you sensed
Where your miserable son is now,
You would come without delay,
Hasten hither to his aid.
You would rescue your poor boy 420
From this downward deadly road,
From slipping to his final slumber
In the vigor of his youth."
435 Then old Wet-hat, the blind herdsman,
Seized on wayward Lemminkainen,
Hurled the son of Kaleva
Into Tuonela's black river,
Down into the dreadmost whirlpool.
441 Luckless Lemminkainen went
Hurtling down the gyring rapids, 430
Spinning in the downward spiral
To the dwellings of the dead.
445 Then the bloody son of Tuoni
Slashed the body with his saber,
Clave it with his bloody cleaver.
Into pieces five he chopped it,
Into eight divided it;
Tossed them into Tuoni's river
Into Manala's backwaters:
"Wallow there to the end of time 440
With your crossbow and your arrows
Shooting swans on Tuoni's river,
Slaughtering sea birds on its banks."
457 This was Lemminkainen's end,
Death of that undaunted lover,
In the murk of Death's black river,
In the caverns of the dead.