The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 28


Now that Ahti Islander,
He the wayward Lemminkainen,
Fled the scene of his mad action,
Hurried off to hide himself
Far from twilit Pohjola,
From the gloomy house of Sedgeham.

7 Like a blast of driven snow,
Like a streak of smoke he fled
To escape his evil deeds,
To avoid their consequences. 10

11 When he got into the farmyard,
Turning here and there he searches,
He is looking for his stallion,
But he sees no stallion there -
Just a boulder in the field,
Willow bush there in the meadow.

17 What device could be invented,
What escape could be devised
To insure his head from danger
And his handsome hair from harm 20
That no single hair be lost
In these yards of Pohjola?
From the village rose a clamor,
Great commotion from the neighbors,
Flash of lights from other farmsteads,
Stare of eyes from watching windows.

27 Now must wayward Lemminkainen,
Island Ahti be transformed
And become another creature.
In the form of a soaring eagle 30
Wants to rise up to the heavens,
But the sun shone on his cheekbones,
On his brow the moonlight glimmers.

35 Lemminkainen prayed to Ukko:
"Good god Ukko, power all-seeing,
Master of the thunder clouds,
Ruler of the scudding cloudlets,
Now create a fog to hide me,
Little cloudlet to conceal me,
In whose shelter I may flee, 40
Try to get back to my name,
To my most devoted mother,
To my most respected parent. "
if! As he flew he looked behind him
And beheld a gray tewk coining,
And its eyes were flashing fire
Like the lad of Pehjola,
Former master of the north.

53 Said the gray hawk to remind him:
"Oho, Ahti, my good brother, 50
You remember our old combat,
Head-for-head3 in equal hazard?"

57 Answered Ahti Islander,
Said the handsome man far-minded:
"Little hawk, my little birdling,
Turn about and hurry homeward.
Tell them when you get back there,
Back at dim-lit Pohjola:
'No mere hawk can hold an eagle
And devour it in its talons."' 60

65 Then he traveled homeward quickly,
Hurried to his tender mother,
Low in spirit, gloomy hearted.

69 In the lane his mother meets him
As he hurries down the fence-line;
She immediately asks him:
"O my son, my child, my young one,
My dear child, my faithful lad!
Why so low in spirit now
Hurrying home from Pohjola? 70
Did they cheat you with the ale pots,
At the feast at Pohjola?
If they hurt you at the drinking,
There's a better ale pot here
Which your father won at war,
Which he brought back from the battle."

83 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:
"O my mother, my dear bearer!
Who would slight me with the ale pot?
I myself would fix the masters so
And a hundred of their henchmen,
Put a thousand to the test."

89 Said the mother of Lemminkainen:
"Why so low in spirit then?
Were you beaten by the stallions,
Put to shame in coltish races?
If beaten by a stallion there,
Buy a better stallion here
With the funds your father left you,
With the savings of your parent." 90

97 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:
"O my mother, my dear bearer!
Who could beat me with their horses,
Shame me in their coltish races?
I myself would shame their masters
And defeat the stallion drivers,
Beat the strong men with their colts
And the fellows with their stallions."

105 Said the mother of Lemminkainen:
"Why so low in spirit then, 100
Why so very gloomy-hearted
Since you're back from Pohjola?
Did the women laugh at you
And the girls make fun of you?
If the women laughed at you
And the girls made fun of you,
There will come another time
When the women can be laughed at."

115 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:
"O my mother, my dear bearer! 110
Who would make the women laugh,
Get the girls to jeer at me?
I myself would mock their masters
And have fun with all the maidens;
I would mock a hundred women
And a thousand other brides."

123 "Whafs the trouble then?" she said.
"Did you face a thing fantastic,
Some weird wonder at Pohjola -
Or perhaps you ate too much, 120
Ate too much and drank too much,
So that in your nightly slumbers
Weird and wondrous dreams assailed you"

131 Wayward Lemminkainen answered:
"Only women mind those dreams,
Dwelling on such nightly visions.
I recall my nightly dreams,
But my daytime dreams much better.
0 my mother, old wise woman,
Get provisions ready for me; 130
Fill my linen bag with flour,
Fit some salt cakes in my knapsack6-
It is time for me to travel,
Flee the country in a hurry,
Leave my precious home behind me
And forsake this lovely homestead.
Men are sharpening up their swords,
Putting points upon their spears."

147 Seeing him in great distress,
His mother asked him: "Why, my boy, 140
Are they sharpening their swords,
Putting points upon their spears?"

151 Said the wayward Lemminkainen,
Spoke the handsome man far-minded:
"This is why they whet their swords,
Put the points upon their spears:
To endanger my poor head,
To test them on my wretched neck.
Trouble arose, something happened
In the farmyard there at Pohjola. 150
I have killed the master there,
Killed the very man himself.
Pohjola rose up in arms
And is marching out for battle.
Thafs the doom that follows me,
Single man at bay alone."

165 His mother put it in these words,
Said the elder to the child:
"I have told you this already,
Kept forbidding you to go there. 160
Had you done as I insisted,
Stayed at home here with your mother,
In the shelter of your parent
On the homestead of your bearer,
You would not have been there brawling
And there would have been no feud.

177 "Where, poor boy, unlucky son,
Will you hide your heinous deed
Or escape your evil action
To save your head and handsome neck, 170
Keep that shock of hair from harm
That no single strand be loosened?"

185 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:
"I don't know a single place
Where to hide my heinous deed.
O my mother, my dear bearer!
Tell me where to run for refuge."

191 Said his mother: "I don't know
What to tell you, where direct you.
Hide as a pine tree on a hill 180
Or a juniper on a heath-
Even there disaster threatens
And hard luck will overtake you:
Oftentimes a mountain pine
Will be split up into shingles,
Often too a juniper
Will be cut for stakes or staves.

203 "Rise as a birch tree in a swale
Or an alder in a thicket-
Even there disaster threatens 190
And hard luck would still pursue you:
Often birches in a swale
Will be chopped up into firewood,
Often too the alder thickets
Will be cut to make a clearing.

211 "Hide as a berry on a hill,
Whortleberry on a heath,
Or as strawberries on these meadows,
Bilberries in some other fields-
Even there disaster threatens 200
And hard luck would still pursue you:
Tinny-breasted girls would pluck you
And the girls would strip you clean.

219 "If you go as a pike to sea,
Whitefish in a quiet river-
Even there disaster threatens
And a bad end would befall you:
Some young campfire-sooted fisher
Would sink a seine down in the sea;
With their seine the young would seize you, 210
Or the old men with their nets.

227 "If you go as wolf to woodland
Or as bruin to the backwoods-
Even there disaster threatens
And hard luck would still pursue you:
Some young sooty-looking hunter
Would be sharpening up his spearhead
To destroy the woodland wolves
And to fell the forest bruins."

235 Said the wayward Lemminkainen: 220
"I myself know hiding places,
But they're dangerous, dreadful places
Where the jaws of death would catch me
And a dreadful doom befall me.
O my mother, my dear bearer,
You whose milk has nourished me!
Where would you have me hide myself,
Where advise and urge my going?
At my mouth dark death is waiting,
By my beard the day of evil. 230
I have only one day left,
That one scarcely to the full."

249 Then his mother said to him:
"I will tell you of a good place,
Name a spot most excellent
Where the heinous can be hidden
And an outlaw find a refuge:
I recall a tiny corner,
A very little spot of land,
Never pillaged, never conquered, 240
Unharried by the sword of man.
Vow to me by oaths eternal,
Firm and without reservation,
That for six, for ten more summers
You will not go off to battles-
Neither for the sake of silver
Nor the greedy lure of gold."

265 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:8
"By the firmest oaths I swear
Not to take part in big battles, 250
In the clash and clang of swordblades
For this first and coming summer
Nor yet in the second summer.
There are wounds upon my shoulders
And my chest is deeply scarred
From the former fun I had
In those bygone battle sprees
On those bloody-battled hills,
On the killing grounds of war-men."

277 Then his mother gave directions: 260
"Take your father's boat and go,
Sail off to your hiding place
Far away beyond nine seas,
Halfway then across the tenth sea
To a mid-sea island there,
Just a lovely little isle.
Long ago your father hid there,
Not just hid there, but was safe there
Through the big war, big hate years,9
In the years of persecution. 270
It was good for him to stay there,
Lucky place to live in leisure.
Hide there for one year, a second,
Then come home again the third year
To your own paternal homestead,
Landing on your own home jetty."


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