The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 22


When the guests had drunk their fill,
Feasted at the wedding there
In the House of Pohjola,
Banqueted in gloomy Sedgeland,
Said the mistress of Pohjola
To Ilmari, her son-in-law:

7 "What are you sitting waiting for,
Man of such a mighty clan,
Hero of the countryside -
Staying for the father's favor 10
Or the kindness of the mother,
For the cleanness of the cabin,
Good looks of the wedding party?

15 "Ifs not for the father's favor
Nor the kindness of the mother,
Not the cleanness of the cabin,
Good looks of the wedding party,
But for the favor of your sweetheart,
For the kindness of your bride,
Brightness of the eyes you long for, 20
Beauty of the long-haired maiden.

21 "Bridegroom, my most precious brother!
You have waited long, wait longer!
Your desired one is not ready,
Lifelong partner not prepared:
Only half her hair is braided
And the other half is braidless.

27 Bridegroom, my most precious brother!
You have waited long, wait longer!
Your desired one is not ready, so
Lifelong partner not prepared:
Only one sleeve has been sewn
And the other waits for sewing.

33 Bridegroom, my most precious brother!
You have waited long, wait longer!
Your desired one is not ready,
Lifelong partner not prepared:
Only one foot has been shod,

But the other foot is shoeless.

39 Bridegroom, my most precious brother! 40
You have waited long, wait longer!
Your desired one is not ready,
Lifelong partner not prepared:

One hand's fully gloved already,
But the other still is gloveless.

45 Bridegroom, my most precious brother!
Long you've waited without tiring;
Your desired one now is ready,
And your duckling quite prepared:

49 "Go along now, dowered maiden, 50
Chick whose bride-price has been settled,
Now your union is at hand
And your time of parting near,
With your bridegroom by your side,
With your taker at the door,
Stallion champing at the bit
While the sleigh is waiting for you.

57 "You were always quick for money,
Quick to put your hand out for it,
Ever eager for the bride-gifts 60
And for putting on the ring.
Be as quick now for the sleighing,
Ready to go visiting,
Eager for your riding off.

65 "Maybe not till now, young lady,
Have you weighed the good and bad sides,
Never even understood
If you made a sorry bargain,
One to weep for all your lifetime
And regret in years to come, 70
That you left your father's house
And departed from your birthplace,
From your mother, from your bearer?

75 "How was it living here at home
On the wide parental acres?
Like a flower in the laneway,
Like a strawberry in a clearing.
When you get up from the straw,2
By the time you've stopped your yawning,
There is morning milk and butter, so
New-made butter with your wheatcakes.
When there was no butter ready,
You just sliced up breakfast bacon.

85 "Here you had no care at all,
Nothing much to worry over;
Let the tall old pine trees worry
And the fence rails do the pondering;
Let the swamp pines do the grieving
And the heath birch on the heather.
Like a leaf yourself you fluttered, 90
Meandered Uke a butterfly;
As a raspberry in a meadow,
Berry in your mother's garden.

95 "You are leaving this home now,
Going to another house,
Subject to a different mother
In the household of a stranger.
That way there, this way here,
Different in each different household.
Herder's horns3 sound different there, 100
Different is the sound of doors,
Creak of gates and squeak of hinges.

105 "You cannot go in or out
Freely through a gate or door
As the daughters of the house do;
Cannot blow the fire up rightly,
Heat the hearth up properly
To the liking of the master.
111 "Did you think, my young lady,
Did you fancy or imagine 110
Just to go off for a night,
Only to return next morning?
You're not going for a night,
Not for one night, not for two.
You are going for a long time,
Forever from your father's shelter,
For a lifetime from your mother's,
And the home yard will be longer,
Will be longer by a step,
And the threshold one sill higher 120
When you come again, returning,
Coming back some future time."

125 Then the miserable maiden sighed,
Sighed and sobbed with heart-deep sorrow,
Water rising to her eyes,
And she worded her confusion:
"Thus I thought it, thus imagined,
Fancied it throughout my lifetime
And repeated through my growth time:
'You will not remain a maiden 130
In the shelter of your parents,
On the acres of your father,
In the chambers of your mother.
Then indeed you'll be a woman
When you go out to a husband,
One foot still upon the threshold,
One foot on your husband's sleigh.
You'll be taller by a head,
Higher by an ear at least.'

143 "This I hoped for all my lifetime, 140
Fancied all my growing years,
Wished for as a fruitful harvest
Or the coming of the summer.
Now those hopes are coming true
And my leaving is at hand,
One foot halting on the threshold,
One foot on my husband's sleigh.
But I do not understand
What it was that changed my mind:
I don't leave with any gladness 150
Nor depart rejoicing hence
From this long-loved home of mine
Where I spent my younger years,
From these meadows of my growth-time,
Harvest meadows of my father.
Still slight and slender, I am leaving,
Leaving with a load of sorrow,
Already homesick on the doorstep
As if wandering out alone
In the lap of autumn night, 160
Walking fearful through the darkness
Over glassy springtime ice,
Leaving not a trace behind me,
Not a footprint on the ice.

165 "How do others bear such parting,
Other newly wedded women?
Surely they can't feel such sorrow,
Carry no such homesick heart
As do I, unhappy creature.
I am burdened with black sorrow- 170
Heart as black as soot is black
And a dread as dark as charcoal.

173 "Like the rising sun of springtime,
Sunny as a bright spring morning
Is the temper of the happy,
Spirit of the blessed people.
How then is it with my mind,
In the darkness of my spirit?
Like a boulder on a pond shore,
Like the dark edge of a cloud; iso
Stilly black as autumn night
And as dark as day in winter.
It is even darker, blacker,
Blacker than an autumn night."

185 Now indeed there spoke a woman
Always busy in the household:
"Now, young lady, just remember
What I told you a hundred times:
'Never give your heart to a suitor,
Never for his eyes or looks, 190
Nor the sweetness of his mouth,
Even for his handsome legs.
He smiles at you with melting mouth,
Ogles you with innocent eyes,
Though the devil's on his jawbone,
Doom be dwelling in his mouth.'

199 "So I counseled my young lady
And I always prompted her:
When the powerful suitors come,
Mighty men known nationwide, 200
You yourself address them thus
And so speak out for yourself,
Speak out boldly, tell them this:
'By no means will I be taken,
Taken as a daughter-in-law,
Led out to become a slavey;
Any maiden with my looks
Could not live so as a slave
And, what's more, would not know how
Always humble in her manner, 210
Always under someone's thumb.
If I get a scolding word,
I would answer back with two;
If they tried to pull my hair- Ever made that bad mistake- With a twist I'd break their wrist,
Send them sprawling with a shove.'

221 "Did you mind me, listen to me?
Never heeded me at all;
Stubbornly went to the burning, 220
Burning of a backwoods clearing,
To the cooking out of tar;
Set out on sly Reynard's sleigh,
On the runners of old Bruin,
For the fox to whisk away,
For the bear to carry off
As the master's slave forever,
Bondslave to a mother-in-law.

231 "Left your home and went to school,
From your father's field to torment; 230
Difficult the schooling there,
Wearisome the penalties.
There arrived as a boughten slave,
Prisoner's irons will be waiting
Not for anyone else but you,
Poor, benighted, willful woman.

239 "Soon you will experience,
You, unhappy girl, will suffer
The jawboning of the old man,
Stony tongue of mother-in-law, 240
Chilly words of brother-in-law,
Scornful shrugs of sister-in-law.

245 "Listen, girl, to what I'm saying,
What I'm saying, telling you:
In your home you were a flower,
In your father's yard a joy.
Your fond father called you Moonlight
And your mother named you Sunshine
And your brother. Sparkling Water
And your sister. Blue Broadcloth. 250
In the house where you are going
You will have a different mother
Who will not be like your own,
Nothing like the one who bore you.
Seldom will she scold you sweetly,
Seldom teach you carefully.
Father-in-law will call you Pine Brush*
Only fit to be a doormat;
Mother-in-law, A Lapland Sledge ;5
Brother-in-law will call you Doorsill 260
And sweet sister-in-law, A Harlot.
If you do your chores nimbly,
Quick as puff of mist or smoke,
Blowing leaf or shooting spark,
You might be considered worthy,
Accepted as an able worker.

269 "But you are no flying bird,
Fluttering leaf or shooting spark
Nor mist to slip unseen outdoors.

273 "Oh, my miss, my little sister, 270
You have bartered-what a bargain! - Best of fathers for a bad one
And a most devoted mother
For an angry mother-in-law;
Left at home the best of brothers
For a crook-neck brother-in-law;
Left at home a handsome sister
For a frog-eyed sister-in-law;
Left your bed of linen sheets
For one beside a sooty campfire; 280
Your clear brooks for dirty ditches,
Sandy shores for muddy bottoms;
Fruitful fields for barren heathlands,
Berried hills for burnt-out stumpland.

293 "So, young maiden, budding chick,
Did you really think, imagine
That your troubles would be over
And your labors also lightened
By this evening's ceremony,
That to bed you would be taken 290
And presented with sweet dreamings?

299 "But you won't be put to bed
Nor presented with sweet dreamings.
Now your sleepless nights begin
And your troubles multiply,
Cares enough to think about
Till they turn your mind awry.

305 "When you played without a kerchief,6
Then you played without a care;
When you wore no linen headscarf 300
You were without serious worry.
Now the kerchief brings but care
And the headdress only sorrow;
Worries with the linen scarf,
With the flaxen, woes unending.

313 "How is it with a girl at home?
In her father's house she rules
Like a king within his castle,
Lacking nothing but a sword.
With a daughter-in-law ifs different. 310
Living in her husband's household
Is as if she were confined
Like a prisoner in Russia,
Lacking nothing but a jailer.

321 "She does her work in working hours,
Shoulders leaning, body sweating,
And her forehead glistening wet.
But when another hour comes,
She's condemned to fiery duties,
Driven to the demon's forge, 320
To the devil's very hand.

329 "She will need, pitiable maiden,
The persistence of a salmon,
Tongue of ruff, the wit of perchling,
Mouth of dace and belly of bleak - And the wisdom of the scoter.

335 "No one knows or understands,
Not nine daughters of one mother
Reared and cherished by their parents
Whence the spoiler is begotten, 330
Whence the gnawing demon grows,
Flesh devourer and bone biter,
Evil one who tears your hair out
Till it's flying in the wind,
Cold spring wind, chill Ahava.

345 "Sorrow, sorrow, maiden young.
When you sorrow, sorrow well;
Weep a handful, double handful.
Spray your father's yard with teardrops,
Weep a puddle on the floor; 340
Flood the whole house with your tears,
Wash the floorboards with their waves.
If you do not weep for sorrow,
You will weep another time,
When, returning home again,
You should find your poor old father
Smothered in the smoky sauna,
Piteous with a dried-up slapper
In the hollow of his arm.

359 "Sorrow, sorrow, maiden young. 350
When you sorrow, sorrow well.
If you do not weep for sorrow,
You will weep another time,
Returning to your mother's home,
When you find your poor old mother
Suffocated in the cow barn,
Sheaf of hay still in her lap.

367 "Sorrow, sorrow, maiden young.
When you sorrow, sorrow well.
If you do not weep for sorrow, 360
You will weep another time
On returning to this home,
When you find your rosy brother
Lying on the narrow laneway,
Fallen on the old home ground.

375 "Sorrow, sorrow, maiden young.
When you sorrow, sorrow well.
If you do not weep for sorrow,
You will weep another time
On returning to this house, 370
When you find your lovely sister
Sunken on the laundry pathway,
With a well-worn laundry beater
In the hollow of her arm."

383 Then the poor girl, panting, sighing,
Broke out into bitter tears.
Wept by handfuls, double handfuls
On her father's well-swept farmyard,
Tear-ponds on her father's floor.
Then she said: "O my sisters, 380
Little finches, lifelong comrades,
All you playmates of my childhood!
Listen now to what I tell you:
This I do not understand,
What has struck me with such sorrow,
This anxiety come upon me,
This homesickness and this yearning.

403 "All my lifetime I imagined,
Thought it to be other than this,
Other than what you tell me now: 390
Fancied I could play the cuckoo,
Calling 'cuckoo' on the hillocks
When the longed-for day should brighten
With my fancies all made real.
Now I will not play the cuckoo,
Calling 'cuckoo' on the hillocks.
I am like an old squaw8 tossing,
Tossing on uneasy billows,
Like a teal upon a bay
Swimming in the frigid water, 400
Paddling in the icy water.

415 "Woe my father, woe my mother,
Woe my most respected parents!
For what purpose did you make me
When you bore this wretched creature
To weep these tears, bear this misery,
Grieve these grievings, sorrow sorrows!

423 "You might as well, my poor mother,
Lovely bearer and milk-giver,
Gentle one who suckled me, 410
Might as well have swaddled tree stumps
Or have washed out little stones
As to have bathed this little daughter,
Swaddled thus your cherished darling
To survive for such deep sorrow,
To be cast in such dejection.

433 "Many say, and others think it:
'Silly thing, she has no worries,
Not a sad thought in her head.'
No, good people, do not say that! 420
My anxieties are many,
More than there are rocks in rapids,
More than willows on poor soil,9
More than heather on a heathland.
No horse hauls a load so heavy,
Straining forward ironshod,
Without the quivering of the collar
Or the shaking of a shaft-bow,
So heavy a load as I must carry
On my slender maiden shoulders, 430
Load of care and dark dejection."

449 On the floor a child was singing,
Young tot by the inglenook:

451 "What is there to young girls' weeping,
To their fancied woes and worries!
Leave the worries to the horse,
Troubles to the great black geldings.
Let the big-head do the worrying
And the iron-mouth the moaning.
A horse's head is fitter for it, 440
Fitter head and stronger bones,
With the arch of neck more powerful,
And the whole frame more abundant.
There is nothing here to weep for,
No wide woe to worry over.
They won't take you to the marshes,
Lead you down along the ditches.10
You are going from good to better:
From a corn patch good enough
To a broader, richer cornfield; 450
From a brew house good enough
To a place where ale flows freely.

469 "If you turn and look beside you,
There's your sweetheart as your shelter,
Hardy husband to console you,
Driving you to a richer homestead.
Good man, good horse, sleigh bells ringing:
On the shaft-bows grouse are preening,
On the traces thrushes singing,
Gaily ringing and rejoicing, 460
And six golden cuckoo bells
Are all bobbing on the hames,
Seven blue ones on the sleigh prow
Calling, calling, cuckoo, cuckoo.

483 "Do not, child of mother born,
Do not fret about whafs coming.
You won't be in a worse position,
Rather in a better station
There beside your plowman husband,
Under the cloak of furrow-maker; 470
On the breast of your breadwinner,
In the arms of your fish-catcher;
In the sweat of your elk-skier,
With the bear-killer in the sauna.

493 "You have got the best of husbands
And the hardiest of fellows,
For his crossbows will not idle
Nor his quivers on the wall pegs;
Neither will the dogs lie idle
Nor the puppies on the litter. 480

499 "Three times in this spring already
Very early in the morning
He awakened by his campfire,
Got up from his bed of pine boughs;
Three times in this spring already
Dew has dropped down on his eyes
And pine needles brushed his hair,
The young shoots caressed his body.

507 "He's the breeder and the feeder
Of a growing crop of cattle, 490
And indeed our bridegroom has them.
Some are hoofing through the backwoods,
Others legging over ridges
Seeking lush grass in the hollows,
Horn-bearers by the hundreds,
Udder-bearers by the thousands;
Haystacks heaped in every clearing
And by every brook a corncrib;
Alder thickets turned to cornfields,
Barley growing by the ditches; 500
Fields of oats along the river,
Wheat fields by the water courses;
All the rock piles made of money"
And the pebbles silver pennies."


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