The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 33


Kullervo, son of Kalervo,
Put his lunch into his knapsack,
Drove the cattle by the marsh
As he plodded on the heath.
There he spoke out as he went
And related as he travelled:
"Oh, what an unhappy boy I am,
Wretched and unfortunate!
Now I'm really into something,
Got myself a great position; 10
I'm a keeper of the calves
At the rear end of an ox,
Tramper over every bogland,
Crawler over every badland."

15 Stopping on a sunny hillside,
Sat down on a little hummock;
There he sang these magic verses
And recited in his singing:
"May the sun ofJumala shine,
His great sun-disk cast its radiance 20
On the craftsman's herder warmly,
Kindly on the miserable herdsman -
Not on Ilmarinen's homestead,
Surely not upon his woman.
That old wife is living fatly;
She is slicing up the wheat bread
And devouring big meat pasties;
Scoops up butter, spreads it over,
While her herdsman has but dry bread,
Only dry bread crusts to chew on, 30
Digs into an oaten loaf,
Cuts the chaff bread, straightens straw bread,
Gnaws the famine bread of pine bark,
Drinks his water from a scoop
At the end of a wet hummock.

37 "Glide across the sky, sweet sun,
And decline, thou clock of God!
Move across the fir tree tips,
Slant along above the bushes,
Haste beyond the junipers, 40
Gliding level with the alders.
Let the herdsman get back home
To dip into a dish of butter,
Slice unleavened barley bread,
To taste the small buns and their sweetness."

47 But while Kullervo was singing,
While the herdsman went on chanting,
Ilmarinen's stingy woman
Had already carved her butter,
Sliced unleavened barley bread, 50
Started on her barley cakes -
But for Kullervo concocted
Watery porridge of cold cabbage
Which the dogs had soiled already:
Blacky licked it clean of fat,
Spotty gobbled up his fill,
Brownie had his morning snack.

59 On a bush a bird was singing,
From a hedge a bird was speaking:
"Now it's lunch time for the slavey, 60
For the fatherless to eat."

63 Kullervo, son of Kalervo,
Looked up at the high-gone sun,
And he said: "Ifs time to eat,
To start on what I have for food,
To look over my provisions."

69 Then he led his cattle where
They could lie down on soft heather.
He himself sat on a hummock,
On a fresh green turf of heather; 70
Lowered his knapsack from his shoulders,
Took from it the loaf of bread;
Looked it over, turned it over,
Meditating to himself:
"Many a loaf looks well outside
With a smooth crust on the surface,
But inside ifs full of chaff,
Husks concealed beneath the crust."

81 From the sheath he drew his knife,
Drew it through the bread to cut it; so
On the stone the knife was turned
As it struck against the rock;
From the haft the blade was loosened,
And it snapped-the blade was broken.

87 Sadly Kullervo looks at it
And begins to weep, lamenting:
"This poor knife, my only brother,
This iron all I had to love,
Heirloom gotten by my father,
Treasured by my honored parent. 90
Even that I've broken now,
Cracked it hard against the rock
In the loaf of that mean mistress,
Baked up by that vicious vixen.

99 "How repay the woman's jeering,
Woman's jeering, housemaid's mocking,
Nasty woman's treacherous bread loaf,
Bakings of the vicious whore?"

103 From the bush a crow was cawing,
Crow was cawing, raven croaking: 100
"0 you poor old golden buckle,
Only son of Kalervo!
Why are you so lowly-minded
And so gloomy in your heart?
Get a whipper from a thicket,
Birch rod from a forest hollow;
Drive the dung-thighs to the swamp,
Scatter them across the muck-
Half a prey for giant wolves,
The other half for backwoods bruins. 110

115 "Gather all the wolves together
And the bruins in one pack.
Charm the wolves to little cows,
Charm the bears to brindled cows.
Then as cattle drive them home,
Brindled cattle to the farmyard.
So repay the woman's laughter,
The malicious woman's meanness."

123 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
"Just you wait, you whore of Hiisi, 120
As I grieve now for my knife,
Weeping for my father's blade,
So you yourself will grieve in turn,
Weeping for your precious milkers."

129 Got a whipper from a thicket,
Cattlewhip of juniper,
Drove the cows into the marshes,
Tangled oxen in a windfall -
Half the herd for wolves to eat
And a half for backwoods bruins. 130
Wolves he conjured into cows
And transformed the bears to cattle;
Some he charmed to little cows,
Others into brindled cows.

139 Slowly moved the sun southwestward,
Circling through mid-afternoon,
Gliding golden over fir tops,
Hasting to the milking hour.
Kullervo, the sullen herdsman,
Drove the bears to the homestead, 140
Chased the wolves into the barnyard.
Yet again he told the bears,
Spoke directly to the wolves:
"Rip her thighs and bite her calves
When she comes to look around here,
Squatting down to do her milking."

153 Then he made a horn of cowbone,
Clarion from an ox's horn,
And a horn from Chokecherry's leg
And a pipe from Lovely's hock; 150
Blew a blast upon the horn,
Gave a call upon the clarion,
Thrice resounding to the home hill,
Six times echoing in the lane-mouth.

161 Meantime Ilmarinen's mistress,
Clever housewife of the craftsman,
Waits a long time for her milkers,
Anxious for her summer butter.
Hears the tooting from the fenland,
Echoes blasting from the heathland: 160
"Jumala be praised," she cried,
"Horns are blowing, cows are coming!
Where did that slave get the horn,
Where indeed could he have found it
Since he comes so gaily playing,
Tramps on hooting, tooting, blasting?
It's enough to break my eardmms
And to make my head turn dizzy."

177 Said the son of Kalervo:
"This slave got it from the fenland, 170
Brought it from the muddy marshes.
Now the herd is in the lane,
Coming to the cattle yard.
Get the smudge fires smoking now
And attend then to your milking."

185 But the wife of Ilmarinen
Ordered an old woman thus:
"Go and tend the cattle now
And you do the milking for me;
I am busy kneading dough 180
So I have no time at present."
Said the son of Kalervo:
"In the old days each good woman,
Careful mistress of a household,
Always milked the cows herself
And attended to the cattle."

197 Then the wife of Ilmarinen
Went to set the smudge fires smoking
And from there came to the milking;
Looked the cattle over closely 190
And examined all the livestock.
"Good, they're looking fine," she said,
"All the cattle so good-looking
With their hides as sleek as lynxes,
Soft as fleece of woodland ewe;
Heavy-udders swinging slowly,
Aching for the milker's fingers."

209 Then she squatted down for milking
And began to strip the udders,
Pulled one stroke and then a second. 200
As she tried to pull the third time,
Suddenly a wolf sprang on her,
And a bear leaps out to claw her.
At her mouth a wolf was tearing
And a bruin at her hamstrings,
Biting halfway through her calf,
Roughly ripping heel from shankbone.

219 This was Kullervo's repayment,
Payment for the housemaid's mocking,
Housemaid's mocking, woman's laughter- 210
Paid the vicious dame due wages.

223 Ilmarinen's mistress wept
And lamenting cried for mercy:
"You've done badly, you poor herdboy.
You have brought the bears home with you
And the wolves to these clear acres."

229 Said the son of Kalervo:
"I did badly, you did worse
When you baked a lunch loaf for me
And you hid a rock inside it; 220
When I drew my knife to cut it
There my knife blade, striking stone,
Broke against the hidden rock-
Only knife left by my father
And belonging to my clan",

239 Cried the wife of Ilmarinen:

"O thou shepherd, gentle herder,
Now reverse your incantation,
Speak your sentence backwardly.
In all mercy save me from them, 230
Jaw of wolf and claw of bear.
I will dress you up so handsome
With new shirts and linen trousers;
Feed you butter, feed you wheat bread,
Give you sweet new milk to drink;
Feed you one year without working
And a second year as well.

251 "If you do not save me quickly,
Do not hurry to my rescue,
I will die and turn to dust." 240

255 Said the son of Kalervo:
"If you're going to vanish.
In the earth there's room for corpses,
In the graveyard for the vanished,
And the earth is wide enough
For the mightiest to lie in,
For the greatest ones to rest in."

263 Prayed the wife of Ilmarinen:
"Ukko, Jumala the highest, 250
Have thy mighty cross-bow ready,
Best of all your bows selecting;
Lay a copper holt upon it,
Quickly on your fire-swift crossbow.
Shoot a powerful-striking arrow,
Swiftly flying copper holt
Through his armpit, through his shoulder -
With a copper arrow kill him,
With a steel bolt shoot him dead."

277 But the man now counter-prayed her: 260
"Ukko, Jumala the highest!
Do not shoot me, shoot that woman,
Fell the vicious dame of Ilma
Right upon that very spot
Before she makes a single move."

285 There smith Ilmarinen's mistress,
Housewife of the skillful hammerer,
Suddenly collapsed and died,
Fell as soot falls from a kettle,
Dropped down in the narrow yard, 270
Cattle yard of her own homestead.

291 That was the end of that young woman,
Of the craftsman's handsome housewife
So long yearned for, six years courted
To be Ilma's life-long gladness,
Honor to the famous craftsman.


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