The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 30


Ahti boy, the winsome lad,
Reckless madcap, Lemminkainen,
Now upon an early morning,
Very early in the dawning
Went out walking by the boat sheds,
Strolling by the landing stages.

7 There a wooden ship is weeping,
Boat with iron oarlocks moaning:
"Ah, what was I ever built for,
And for what was I intended? 10
Ahti has not rowed to war,
Not for six, ten long summers,
Neither for the need of silver
Nor even for the lure of gold."

13 Then the wayward Lemminkainen
Slapped the vessel with his mitten,
Mitten with embroidered wristband.
He said: "Don't you worry, pine deck,
Don't complain with all that freeboard.
You will go to war for certain 20
And you'll tack through many a battle,
And you may be full of rowers,
Maybe from tomorrow onward."

25 Then he went home to his mother
And he told her tenderly:
"Do not cry now, my dear mother,
Nor complain, my honored parent,
If I go out here or there
To some battleground or other.
An idea has come to mind, 30
Scheme that's stirring in my brain -
To attack the Pohjolanders,
Wreak my vengeance on the villains."

35 And his mother, elder matron,
Tried to stop him, tried to warn him:
"Do not go, my boy, my only,
To those Northland wars again!
There your doom will come upon you
And dark Death will meet you there."

41 What did Lemminkainen care? 40
So intent was he on going
And already vowed to venture
That he was only left to wonder:
"Where to get a second man,
Both a good man and a sword
As a fighting aide to Ahti,
Ally to a worthy warrior?

49 "I know Tiera very well
And he's but an earshot off.
There I'll get a second man, 50
Get a good man and a sword,
Ally to a worthy warrior."

55 Then he goes out through the village
To his old companion's house
And on arriving states his business:
"My dear Tiera, my old comrade,
My true friend, the one and only!
Maybe you recall the old days,
Good old times we lived together
When the two of us went warring. 60
We went through so many hamlets,
In each hamlet were ten houses,
In each house at least ten men;
There was not a single warrior
Nor a man of any worth
Whom we did not beat in battle,
Whom we did not overcome."

73 At the window sat the father
Busy shaving down a spear shaft;
On the doorsill of the storehouse 70
Mother was thumping with the churn;
Brothers busy at the gateway,
Building sleighs with long sides;
Sisters working on the floor,
Busy fulling homespun cloth.

81 Spoke the father from the window,
Mother from the storehouse doorsill,
Said the brothers from the gateway
And the sisters from the floor:
"Tiera has no time for war; so
His ice chipper's not for battle.
He has made an excellent bargain,
Bound himself in lifelong union.
He just wed a fine young woman,
Took a mistress for his household-
Nipples still untitillated,
And her breasts as yet unfondled."

93 Tiera jumped up from the hearthside
Where he happened to be sitting;
On the hearth one foot he booted 90
And the other on the stove bench;
At the gate his belt he buckled,
Anoints himself with adder's venom.4
Then he lifted up his spear-
It was not the longest of the long
Nor the shortest of the short,
But a spear of middle measure.
A horse was etched upon the spearhead,
On the side a colt was prancing;
Howling wolf upon the ferrule, 100
Screaming bear upon the stud.

107 Then he whipped it and he whirled it,
Weighed its balance and its spring;
Thrust it down a fathom deep,
Straight into the clay hardscrabble
Of the grassless, turfless ground.

113 After that he tossed the spear
In among the spears of Ahti,
And he hurried off with Ahti,
With him as his battle comrade. 110
Then did Ahti Islander
Launch his boat upon the water
Like a serpent through the stubble,
Like a living serpent gliding,
Sailing northwest from the island,
To the sea of Pohjola.

123 Then the matriarch of Pohjala
Sent an enemy against them,
Pakko Pakkanen, the freezer,
To the sea of Pohjola, 120
Out upon the open ocean.
"Pakko, little one," she said,
"Pretty foster child, my nursling!
Go now where I order you,
Where I order and exhort you.
Freeze the vessel of the villain,
Of the villain Lemminkainen
Out upon the clear sea surface,
Out upon the open ocean.
Freeze the vessel's master also, 130
Ice him in the open water
So that he cannot escape,
Frozen there for all his lifetime,
Iced unless I let him go,
Till I'm ready to release him."

143 Pakko boy of wicked lineage
And a lad of vicious vapors
Started out to freeze the ocean
And to still the heaving billows.
As he went there on his way, 140
As he crossed the countryside
He bit the leaves off every tree,5
And he stripped the haystalks sheathless.

151 When he reached the northern sea,
Reached the sea of Pohjola,
Vast and barren stretch of shoreline,
Right away upon the first night
Froze the bays and froze the ponds,
And the shoreline ked up quickly,
But he did not freeze the ocean 150
Nor yet still the heaving billows.
Though the chaffinch or the wagtail
Is so tiny on the sea,
Yet its claws remain unfrozen
And its little head unfrosted.

163 But upon the second night
He got very big and violent,
Really nasty and grew dreadful.
Then the full force of the cold
Froze the ice an ell in thickness, 160
With the snow a ski pole deep;
Froze the vessel of the villain,
Froze it solid with the sea.

173 Would have frozen Ahti also,
Would have turned him into ice-
Already at his fingernails
Reaching down to pinch his toes.

177 Lemminkainen lost his temper,
Very angry and offended;
Seized him, shoved him in the fire, 170
In an iron furnace threw him.

181 He held Pakko in his hands,
And he squeezed the bitter weather,
In his hands he squeezed him hard,
And he said: "Now Pakkanen,
Son of windblast, son of winter,
Do not freeze my fingernails,
Neither try to pinch my toes,
Nor touch my ears or head.

191 "You have more than you can do, 180
Quite enough to chill and freeze
Without touching human skin,
Body of a mother's child.
Freeze the fields and ice the marshes,
Go and freeze cold boulders colder,
Water willows, galls of aspen,
Bark of birch and sapling spruces,
But don't touch a human skin
Nor a child of woman born.

203 "And if that is not enough, 190
Go and do some magic freezing,
Such as hot stones, burning boulders,
Iron cliffs and steely mountains.
Freeze the roar of Vuoksi Rapids
And the thunder out of Imatra;
Freeze the wide mouth of the maelstrom
And the terror of its twisting.

213 "And now I shall trace your lineage
And reveal your reputation,
For indeed I know your origin, 200
Also know about your rearing.
You were born in willow bushes,
Bitter Weather in a birchwood
At the rear of a Lappish tent
In the dark of Pohjola,
In a hovel there in Northland
Of your father, Ever-Ruin,
And your mother, worthless woman.

223 "Since your mother could not do it,
Being milkless without teats, 210
Who was it then. Bitter Weather,
Who was it that suckled you?

227 "It was adders suckled you,
Adders suckled, serpents nourished;
From their tipless breasts they fed you,
From their dry dugs nourished you.
By the north wind lullabied,
Comforted by evil weather,
By the evil willow brooks
On the edge of quivering quicksand. 220

235 "Then you, brat, became unruly,
Ruinous in your wild rampages,
But you had no name as yet,
So they put a name to you,
Put a name to you, you bad one,
Called you Pakkanen the-Freezer.

241 "Then you rode along the fences,
Hustled through-the underbrush,
Swaying on the swamps in summer,
On the broadest of the boglands. 230
Winters played among the pine groves,
Crackling through the evergreens,
Banging in the clumps of birches,
Bowling through the alder bushes;
Freezing trees and freezing grasses,
Leveling out the fields and meadows,
Biting leaves off from the trees
And the blossoms from the heather,
Chips from pines and scales from fir trees.

225 "Now that you have grown so big, 240
Have become so very handsome,
Do you mean to freeze me also,
Make my ears stand stiff with frostbite
And reach down to freeze my feet
Or sneak up to pinch my fingers?

261 "But indeed you will not freeze me
And not even badly chill me.
I'll put fire in my stockings,
Powdered charcoal in my pockets,
Burning embers in my shoes, 250
And the spirit of fire, Panu,
Flaming underneath the laces
So that you can never freeze me,
No bad weather dare to touch me.

269 "I will exorcise you yonder
To the way-back fields of Northland.
Then when you have gotten there,
Gotten to your own home hearth,
Freeze the kettles to the fire
And the fire brands to the fireplace, 260
Women's hands to dough they're kneading
And the lads to lasses' bosoms;
Baby in a maiden's womb,
Milk in udders of a ewe,
Foal in belly of a mare.

279 "If you do not heed this warning,
I will exorcise you yonder
In among the demon's coals,
In the fireplace of the devil
To be thrust into the fire 270
And be laid upon the anvil
To be beaten by the sledge,
Pounded by a blacksmith's hammer,
Beaten thoroughly by sledges,
Pounded harder by a hammer.

289 "If you still remain unruly
And will not let up a little,
I remember another place
And recall one other region:
I'll take your mouth to summer's land, 280
Take your tongue to summer's home,
Whence you never will escape,
Sweating there for all your lifetime
Unless I come to let you go,
Take the time to let you out."

299 Pakkanen, the son of windblast,
Felt dire doom descending on him
And began to pray for mercy:
"Let us make a firm agreement
That we will not hurt each other, 290
Never in all eternity
While the golden moon still glimmers.

307 "If you hear I'm going to freeze you,
Have again become so stupid,
Shove me in a burning fireplace,
Hurl me in the heart of fire,
In the hot coals of the smithy,
Under forge of Ilmarinen.
Take my mouth to summer's land
And my tongue to summer's home 300
So that I will never escape,
Never in all my days-get out."

317 Then the wayward Lemminkainen
Left his ship Stuck in the ice,
Left his warship there fast frozen,
Going on himself ahead
With Tiera as the second
Plodding on behind the rascal.

323 Walked a day and walked a second
Over glare ice smooth and level. 310
On the third day they beheld it:
There they saw the Cape of Hunger,
And its fortress loomed before them
High above its hungry village.

329 Stepping to the fort he asked:
"Is there any meat or fish
In the fort or on the farmstead
For these worn and weary warriors,
For two tired travelers?"
There was no meat within the fortress 320
And no fish there on the farmstead.

337 Said the wayward Lemminkainen,
Spoke the handsome man far-minded:
"Fire, burn down this foolish fortress,
Water, wash away the monster!"
Then they marched on firmly forward
Up into the barren wasteland
On a journey without shelter
And upon a road unknown.

345 Then the wayward Lemminkainen 330
Sheared off wool from barren boulders
And collected fur from cliffsides;6
Made them stockings, made them mittens
To preserve them from the weather,
From the frost of Pakkanen.

353 He went on to search the trail,
To discover where it led,
And it led him through a forest
Where he could not get his bearings.

357 There he said to his companion: 340
"Oho, Tiera, my good brother!
Now indeed we've lost our way
After days and months of travel
Ever toward the far horizon."

365 Bitterly his comrade answered:
"We, poor fools, went out for vengeance,
Vengeance, we the hard luck twins,
To night-haunted Pohjola
At the peril of our lives,
Straight into our own destruction, 350
Lost here in these freezing regions
On these crooked trails unknown.

373 "We don't recognize a thing,
Do not recognize or know
What path leads us or to where,
What track leads us to our death
At the end of some dark forest,
There to sink down on the heather
In some raven-haunted hollow
Or some crow-frequented meadow. 360

381 "There the croaking ravens hover,
Evil birds are scavenging,
Feeding on the flesh of humans,
Crows engorging human blood;
Bloody beaks of ravens wet,
Wet with blood of our own corpses-
They would throw our bones on rock piles,
Drop them down on rocky reefs.

389 "But my mother, she who bore me,
Knows not where her flesh is roaming, 370
Where her own blood may be flowing:
On a field of bloody battle,
On a field of equal combat,
Or upon the broad sea surface,
On the restless rollers drifting,
Or alone on Pinecone Hill,
Stumbling through the scrubby barrens.

399 "She knows nothing of her son,
Her unlucky, wretched boy,
Nothing save that he is dead; 380
His bearer knows that he is lost,
So she weeps, bowed down with sorrow,
Mother mourning for her child:
'Yonder is my wretched son,
Over there my only treasure,
Sown among the seeds of Tuoni,
Harrowed in the earth of Kalma.
Here my son, the reckless one,
Left his beautiful bows unused,
Here to wither on the wall. 390
In the absence of the bowman,
Fearless now, the birds may fatten,
Grouse in leafy thickets preening;
Burly bears exist unhampered,
Wild deer rolling on the field.'"

417 "And," said wayward Lemminkainen,
Said the handsome youth far-minded:
"So it is with my poor mother,
With my poor forsaken mother:
Raised a brood of little chickens, 400
An entire flock of cygnets;
Came a wind to scatter them,
And the devil to disperse them-
One flew here, another there,
And the third one anywhere.

427 "I remember a former time
And recall those happier days
When we played about like flowers
Or as berries on our meadows.
Many praised our fine appearance 410
And admired our manly figures.
Then it was not as at present,
These disastrous days of evil,
With the wind our one acquaintance
And the sun we saw before-
Even that the rainy weather
Has hidden in the cloudy heavens.

439 "There's no worry to distract me,

No great care to trouble me
If the virgins all are happy, 420
If the maidens still are merry,
Chattering cheerfully together;

If the women's mouths are laughing
And the brides all honey-minded
And no longer weeping lonely,
Not yet overcome with yearning.

447 "As yet witches do not witch us,
Witches witch or seers see us
Dying on these pathways dreary,
Overcome upon our journey, 430
Young men in the final slumber,
Fallen in the flower of manhood.

453 "Whom the witches have bewitched,
Whom the wizards have enchanted,
May they reach their homes in safety,
Scatheless at their own dear fireside.
Let the witches witch themselves
And bewilder their own children,
Kill their kin and trouble their tribe.

461 "Never in the olden days 440
Did my father, honored elder,
Wilt before a wizard's will,
Never bribed a Laplander.
This is what my father told me
And what I myself intend:7
'Shield us now, 0 firm Creator,
And protect us. God of mercy,
With thy hand compassionate
And thine everlasting power
Against the schemes and plots of men 450
And against the wiles of women,
Bearded and unbearded pagans.
Be thou our eternal-help,
Unfailing guardian over us
That no son should ever abandon
And no mother's child forsake
The natural order of creation,
The way ordained by Jumala."'

483 Then the wayward Lemminkainen
Turned his troubles into horses 460
And his cares to great black geldings;
All his bad times into bridles,
And the secret hates to saddles.
Leaped upon the horse's back,
On the white-blaze horse's back,
Rode away with comrade Tiera,
Homeward to his gentle mother,
To his much-respected parent;
And the horses' hooves sound hollow
Clattering on along the shores, 470
Cantering over sandy beaches.

495 There I leave my man far-minded
For a long time from my verses,
Sending Tiera on his way,
On his homeward way returning.
I myself will go on singing,
But upon another trackway.


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