The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 15


Back at Lemminkainen's home
Mother worries, always wondering:
"Where has Lemminkainen got to,
My far-minded disappeared;
There's no news of his returning
From his sojourn in the world?"

7 His poor mother does not know,
Even she who gave him birth,
Where her own flesh now is wandering,
Where her own flesh now is flowing. 10
Is it on some cone-strewn hillside,
On a moorland soft with heather,
Or upon the clear sea surface,
On the stormy whitecaps tossing;
Maybe in some great war fighting
Or some horrible rebellion
Where the blood is on his shanks,
Knee-deep in the ruddy gore.

19 Kyllikki, the lovely housewife,
Gazes, turning here and there 20
In the home of Lemminkainen,
On the farm of the far-minded;
Evenings gazing on his comb,
Mornings looking at his brush.
Then upon a certain day,
There upon a certain morrow
From his comb the blood was leaking,
From his brush the gore was seeping.

29 Kyllikki, the lovely housewife,
Said a word and spoke out thus; so
"Now my man is lost to me,
Handsome man far-minded vanished,
Vanished on his homeless wanderings
Somewhere on those nameless roads:
From his comb now blood is leaking,
From his brush the gore is seeping."

37 Then the mother of Lemminkainen
Now herself looked on the brush,
And her eyes filled up with tears:
"Oh, the misery of my days, 40
Always wretched in my time!
Now my boy, unlucky one,
My unruly, reckless child
Has fallen on some evil chance-
Ruin on my gallant boy,
Overtaken by disaster:
From his comb now blood is pouring,
From his brush the gore is gushing."

49 Then she gathered up her skirt,
Held her hem up in her hand, 50
She both ran and rushed along.
All the hills about her echoed,
Hollows heightened, hills declined,
Highlands sank and lowlands rose.

57 Soon she came to Pohjola,
Where she asked about her son,
Beseeching Louhi for some news:
"0 you dame of Pohjola,
Where is now my Lemminkainen,
To what ruin have you sent him?" 60

63 Said the dame of Pohjola:
"I know nothing of your son,
Where he went or where he vanished.
Sat him in a stallion's sleigh,
There behind a fiery racer -
Maybe drowned in freezing snow-slush,1
Stiffening on the icing ocean;
Maybe swallowed by a wolf
Or in bruin's awful maw."

73 Lemminkainen's mother countered: 70
"That is just a bare-faced lie!
There's no wolf can eat my kin
And no bruin slay my son:
Wolves he pokes down with his finger,
Bears he knocks down with his fist.
If you do not tell me truly
What you've done with Lemminkainen,
I'll break down your new barn door,
Twist the hinges off your Sampo."

83 Louhisaid: "I used him well-so
Gave him food till he was filled,
Gave him drink till he was drunk,
Served him till his head was nodding.
Then I put him in a boat
Ready set to run the rapids;
Otherwise I know no more,
Where the wretched creature vanished -
Maybe in the foaming rapids
Or a rushing river current."

93 But the mother now retorted: 90
"Now again you're simply lying!
Tell the truth without evasion,
Let it be the last of lying!
Whither have you sent my boy,
How destroyed the son of Kaleva-
Or I'll chant you into ruin
And your soon-approaching death?"

101 So dame Louhi made reply:
"Maybe now I'll tell the tmth:
Sent him skiing after elks, 100
To outdo the goblin elk,
To the bridling of great geldings
And to harness up the colts;
Ordered him to seek the swan,
To hunt down the sacred bird.
But indeed I cannot fathom
What fatality has befallen
Or what hinders him from coming;
There's no word of his returning,
Coming back to claim his bride, 110
To entreat me for the girl."

115 Then the mother grieving for him
Went out searching for her lost one:
As a wolf she roamed wide fenlands,
Roamed the backwoods as a bear;
As an otter searched the waters,
Scoured the country as a badger;
As a hedgehog toured the headlands
And the lake shores as a hare,
Turning over stump and stone, 120
Kicking brush and branch aside.

127 Long she hunted for her lost one,
Long she sought but does not find;
Even asked the trees about him,
Her mother's longing was so grievous.
A tree spoke, an old pine sighed,
Artfully the oak replied:
"I've more worries of my own
Than to worry about your son.
For hard knocks was I created, 130
Born to bear the worst of chances,
To be split up into kindling,
Hacked up into measured cordwood
Or be dried out in a kiln
Or be felled to cut out clearings."

141 Long she hunted for her lost one,
Long she sought but does not find.
When she meets up with a highway
Down she humbly bows before it:
"O you God-created road, 140
Have you not seen my son,
My golden apple, staff of silver?"

149 Artfully the road replied:
"I've more worries of my own
Than to worry about your son.
For hard knocks was I created,
Born to bear the worst of chances:
Every dog runs over me,
Trampled down by every horseman,
Beaten down by every boot, 150
Stamped to dust by every heel."

159 Long she hunted for her lost one,
Long she sought but does not find.
When she meets up with the moon
Down she humbly bows before him:
"God-created golden moon,
Have you not seen my son,
My golden apple, staff of silver?"

167 Then that God-created moon
Artfully indeed replied: 160
"I've more worries of my own
Than to worry about your son.
For hard knocks was I created,
Born to bear the worst of chances:
All the nights to wander lonely,
On the frosty rime to glimmer;
Keep cold vigil through the winters
But to vanish for the summer."

177 Long she hunted for her lost one,
Long she sought but does not find. 170
Finally she meets the sun,
Down she humbly bows before him:
"O you God-created sun!
Have you not seen my son,
My golden apple, staff of silver?"

185 Now indeed the sun knew something,
And he told her what he knew:
"You poor woman, he has vanished,
Lost and dead your darling boy,
Gone down Tuonela's dark river, 180
Timeless carrier of the dead;
Hurtled down the tumbling rapids,
Taken by the downward current
To the homes of Tuonela,
To the caverns of the dead."

195 Then the mother burst out weeping.
Weeping, went into the smithy,
And she said: "0 Ilmarinen,
You have hammered long ago,
Hammered even yesterday; 190
Hammer now for me today.
Forge a copper rake with handle,
Fitting it with iron teeth,
Teeth a hundred fathoms long,
Five hundred fathoms for the handle."

205 So Ilmarinen forged it for her,
Forged a copper rake with handle,
Fitting it with iron teeth,
Teeth a hundred fathoms long,
Five hundred fathoms for the handle. 200

211 Then the mother of Lemminkainen
Seized the iron rake and hurried
To the river of Tuonela.
There she called upon the sun:
"Thou Sun, Jumala's creation,
Lord's creation of our light!
Shine out hotly for a spell,
Dim and sweaty3 for a while,
And a third time full with blazing.
Lull to sleep the peevish people, 210
Weary out the folk of Mana,
Let the powers of Tuoni slumber."

223 Then the god-created sun,
Light of Jumala's creation,
Settled on a crooked birch knee,
On the elbow of an alder;
Shone out hotly for a spell,
Dim and sweaty for a while,
And a third time full with blazing.
Lulled to sleep the weary people, 220
Tired out the folk of Mana,
Young men leaning on their swords,
Old men resting on their sticks,
Middle-agers on their spears.
Then the sun ascended, soaring
To the level fields of heaven,
Up to his appointed place,
To his station in the sky.

239 Then the mother of Lemminkainen4
Seized the iron rake and dragged, 230
Raking down the roaring rapids,
Down along the rushing river,
Fishing for her son, her lost one,
Rakes and rakes but does not find.

245 So she traveled farther downstream,
To the pool below the falls,
Up to her garters in the ooze,
To her waistband in the water.

249 Rakes along the death-dark river,
Raking upstream counter-current. 240
Dragged it once, dragged it twice,
Snags the shirt of Lemminkainen,
Just a shirt in disappointment;
Rakes again, snags hat and stockings,
Only stockings to her sorrow
And the hat to her annoyance.

259 So she moved still lower down
Toward the Underworld's abysses,
Raking, raking thoroughly,
Lengthwise, crosswise and aslant. 250
Suddenly there is a snag-
Caught upon the iron teeth
She beholds a sheaf of grain.

267 It was no sheaf but Lemminkainen,
He the handsome man far-minded
Really caught upon the rake
By his left toe and ring finger.

273 Rose the wayward Lemminkainen,
Rose the son of Kaleva
To the surface of clear water, 260
Snagged up by the copper rake,
But some parts of him were missing,
One whole hand and half a head,
With many other parts and pieces
And his very life itself.

281 Then the mother wondered, weeping:
"Could this still become a man,
Made anew into a human?"

285 Nearby perched a raven listening,
And it croaked its grim reply: 270
"There's no man in what has gone,
Truly none in what's to be;
Even now his eyes are missing,
Eaten by the greedy whitefish,
And a pike has split his shoulders.
Throw the carcass in the water,
Back in Tuonela's dark river;
Perhaps he'll turn into a cod
Or thicken to a monstrous whale."

295 But the mother of Lemminkainen 280
Does not throw him in the river
And instead she goes on raking
In the river of Tuonela,
Along the current and across.
With her copper rake outreaching
Snags a hand and half the rib cage,
Many other parts and pieces.
Out of these she made anew
Her boy, her wayward Lemminkainen.

307 With great care she gathered them 290
And put the severed parts together:
Bone to bone and flesh to flesh,
Joint to joint and vein to vein.

311 She herself tied up the veins,
Knotted up the ends together;
Laid a spell upon the vein-thread,
With this magic charm incanted:
"Fair she is, the graceful woman,
Handsome spirit of the blood veins!
Lovely spinner of the veins, 300
Working with your shapely distaff,
With the copper spindle whirring
While the iron wharve is turning!
Hurry here where you are needed,
Come, 0 come where you are called for,
With a vein-skein in your lap,
In your arm a fold of membrane.
Come and bind the veins together,
Neatly knit them end to end
Where the flesh is raw and severed 310
In the bleeding open gashes.

329 "But if this charm will not do it,
There's a virgin still in heaven
Rowing in a boat of copper,
Copper boat with blood-red stern;
Come, 0 virgin, from the sky,
from the very nave of heaven.

339 "Set the severed veins in place,
In their natural positions:
All the big veins mouth to mouth, 320
face to face the arteries,
Other vein-ends folded double,
Tip to tip the capillaries.

345 "Take a needle thin as mist,
Threaded with a silken thread,
Sew the bleeding ends together,
Neatly knit with silken fiber.

351 "And if this charm will not do it,
May eternal Jumala
Call his colts, prepare his horses! 330
Drive his sleigh through joint and bone,
Broken flesh and flowing vein!
Bind the tissue to the bone,
Veins together, end to end,
Bind the broken bone with silver
And the bleeding vein with gold.

363 "Replace the broken with the whole,
Veins and membranes recreate,
Vein for vein and blood for blood,
Bone for hone and flesh for flesh. 340
Bless them all into their places,
Set them whole in healthy order,
Flesh to flesh and bone to bone,
Joint by joint and limb by limb."

377 With that Lemminkainen's mother
Put him back together again,
Reconstructed the young fellow,
Put him in his former shape.

381 Though her magic healed the veins,
Neatly knit the veins together, 350
Yet she could not give him words,
Could not charm his tongue to talking.

385 Then she put it into words,
She herself declared and said:
"Where to find a healing ointment,
Where the drop of mead be got
To annoint the torpid man,
Heal the evil-fated one
That the man may gain his words,
Break out singing as of yore: 360

393 "Honeybee, our little bird,
King of all the woodland flowers,
fly away now for the honey,
fetch the needed drop of mead
from the pleasant woodland aisle,
from the woods of watchful Tapio;
from the lips of many a flower,
from the tips of many herbs
As a medicine for the sickened
And an ointment for the wounded." 370

403 So the bee, the nimble bird,
Flew away, soaring lightly
To the pleasant woodland aisles,
To the woods of watchful Tapio;
Sucked the flowers of the meadow,
Cooked the honey on its tongue
From the tips of six flowers
And the sheaths of a hundred grasses.
Back it circles heavily,
Lumbering with a crowded cargo, 380
With its wings all honey laden,
Plumage dripping liquid honey.

415 Then the mother took the ointments
To annoint the dormant man,
Heal the evil-fated one-
But these salves were useless to him,
Could not wake the word within him.

421 "Honeybee, my very own one,"
Said the mother, "Fly again,
This time in a new direction, 390
Over nine seas to an island
Out upon the open ocean
Where the land is rich with honey,
To the new-built house of Tuuri,
Roofless house of the worshipful.
There the honey most delicious,
There the best of medicines
Which will serve for every vein
And be good for every member.
Bring those ointments, fetch those nostrums 400
For me to put them on the wounds,
Pour them on the injuries."

437 Then the nimble honeybee
Soaring lightly over nine seas,
Far as over the tenth one,
Flew a day and flew another,
Even on the third day flying
Without resting on a reed,
Without lighting on a leaf,
To the island on the sea 410
Where the land is rich with honey
On the brink of foaming rapids,
By the sacred river's whirlpool.

449 There they cooked the nectar ready,
There the salves were well concocted
In tiny potlets, pretty kettles
Just big enough to hold a thumb
Or to fit a fingertip.
455 Then the honeybee, the quick one,
Seized upon these ready ointments. 420
After a little time passed over,
After a little spell of waiting,
There it comes, circling, buzzing,
Bustling forward with its load,
With six cupfuls in its lap,
Seven cupfuls on its back,
Pull of nostrums, full of salves.

465 So the mother of Lemminkainen
Annointed him then with these ointments,
With eight salves and nine nostmms- 430
But she got no help from them,
And indeed none at all.

471 "Honeybee," she said once more,
"Bird of air, fly a third time,
fly up to the highest heaven,
To the very ninth of heavens.
There the honey is overflowing
To the height of your desire,
With which once the great Creator,
Jumala himself made magic 440
For the healing of his children
Injured by an evil power.
Dip your wings into the honey,
Pinions in the liquid nectar.
Bring the honey on your wings,
Fetch the nectar in your mantle
As a medicine for the wounded,
An infusion for the injured."

489 But the bee, delightful bird,
Answered her: "How can I, 450
A tired weakling, get up there?"

493 Answered Lemminkainen's mother:
"It's quite easy to get up there,
Pleasantly to trip along
Over the moon and under the sun
And between the stars of heaven:
Float a day on easy wings
To the temples of the moon,
On the next day you will pass
By the shoulders of the Bear, 460
On the third day you will soar
To the hack of the Seven Stars7
Then it's just a bit of travel,
Just a little way to journey
Unto holy Jumala
And the dwellings of the blessed.

507 From the ground the bee sprang up,
Honey-wing up from a tussock,
And indeed it flew on lightly,
Swiftly on its little wings. 470
By the ring around the moon it flew,
By the border of the sun,
By the shoulders of the Bear;
Past the Seven Stars it flew,
To the great Creator's cellar,
To the realm of the Almighty.
There the ointments are prepared
And the nostrums all concocted
In silver pots and golden kettles:
Mead is boiling in the middle, 480
Butter melting down the sides;
Honey to the southward flowing,
Nostrums to northward running.

525 The airy bird, the honeybee,
Got its honey in abundance,
To the height of its desire.
After a little spell of waiting
There it comes, circling, buzzing,
Bustling forward with its cargo,
Hundred hornfuls in its lap 490
And a thousand other bumpers,
Some with honey, some with water,
Some abrim with choicest ointment.

535 Then the mother of Lemminkainen
Took the potions in her mouth,
Tested them upon her tongue.
Well she tasted them with pleasure:
"These are now the very ointments,
Nostrums of the high Almighty,
With which God himself anointed, 500
The Creator poured on wounds."

543 Then the dormant man she treated,
Healed the evil-fated one,
With great care anointed him.
Annointed him along the bones
And the cracks along the members,
All his members, head to toe;
Rubbed him up and rubbed him down
And massaged him in the middle.
Then she spoke the spell of waking: 510
"Rise up from your lying down
And awaken from your dreaming,
Up from all these evil places,
from the bed of evil fortune."

555 So the man rose from his sleeping
And awakened from his dreaming.
Now he has the words again
To relate what happened to him:
"Long I slept, long I lay
Deep in some delicious dream, 520
Sunken in the deepest slumber."

563 His mother said, remembering:
"Longer still you would have slept,
Lain for eons longer there
Without your bad, old mother here,
She the wretched one who bore you.

569 "Tell me now, my luckless son,
So that my own ears may hear it,
What brought you to the Underworld,
Cast you into Tuoni's river?" 530

573 Said the wayward Lemminkainen
As he answered to his mother:
"It was the cattle-herder Wet-hat,
Shut-eyed one of Untamola,
Brought me to the Underworld,
Tossed me into Tuoni's river:
Raised a dragon from the river,
Winged dragon from the wave
To assail this wretched one-
And I did not even know 540
The spell against the dragon's hate
Or the keen pains of the cowbane."

585 Said the mother reminiscing:
"Oh, the stupid, senseless man!
Boasted he'd outwit the wizards
And outsing the Lapland warlocks
And not know the dragon's hate,
Keen pains of the cowbane arrow!
Learn the charm of origin:"
Water dragon born of water, 550
From the wave the birth of cowbane,
From the good brain of the woebird,
From the head of water swallow.
Once the ogress, the devourer,
Spat and blew a blob of spittle,
Blew it out upon the water;
Water stretched and lengthened it,
And the warm sun softened it;
Rocked by wind and swung on water,
Carried shoreward by the billows, 560
By the breakers flung ashore."

603 Then the mother of Lemminkainen
Nursed her dear one back to health,
To his former handsome self,
A little better than before
And more gentle than of old.
Then she asked him anxiously
Was there anything amiss.

611 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:
"There is something troubles me 570
For in truth my heart is yonder
And my sentiments are there
Among the little maids of Northland
With those beautiful lovely-locks.
The old dame, old moldy-ear,
Will not let me have her daughter
Till I shoot the long-tailed duck,
Shoot the swan of Tuonela
From the death-dark river of Tuoni,
From the sacred river's whirlpool." 580

623 But to this his mother retorted:
"Let your ugly swans alone,
And your ugly long-tailed ducks
Live on Tuonela's black river,
Swimming round the fiery whirlpool.
You are starting home with me,
Wretched mother that I am!
And besides, just thank your luck
And to Jumala give praise
That he gave you back your life 590
On your way to certain death
In the depths of Manala.
I could not do anything,
Alone do nothing whatsoever
Without the help of Jumala,
Without the true Creator's blessing."

641 Then did wayward Lemminkainen
Set out homeward with his mother,
With his most devoted mother,
With his much respected parent. 600

645 There I'll leave my Far-mind now,
Drop the wayward Lemminkainen
For a long time from my versing.
I will interrupt his legend
And will turn my verses elsewhere,
Wandering off on other pathways.


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