KALEVALA
The selected poems of Kalevala
Калевала'99

"Kalevala".


Runo 36

THE DEATH OF KULLERVO

Kullervo, son of Kalervo,
Old man's son in blue stockings,
Now prepared to go to war
And to take the vengeance trail:
One moment honing keen his sword,
Another whetting sharp his spear.

7 But his loving mother pleaded:
"Do not go to this great war,
To the clashing of the sword blades!
He who goes to war on purpose, 10
By his own choice to the battle,
Will be slaughtered in the fray,
Butchered in the bloody battle-
Goes to perish by the sword,
Fall a victim to the blade.

17 "Go to war on a nanny goat,
Ride to battle on a ram.
Soon the nanny will be tumbled
And the ram laid low in mire.
Go home riding on a dog, 20
To the homeyard on a frog."

23 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
'Til not perish in the marshes
Nor sink down upon the heather,
Down among the crows and ravens.
If I die in battle bravely,
Perish on the trail of vengeance,
Glorious is the battle death,
Splendid is the clash of sword blades.
Battle death is merciful: so
Takes a lad off in a trice
With no sickly lingering,
With no weary time of wasting."

37 Here his mother answered him:
"If you go and die in battle,
What will be left for your father
As provision for his old age?"

41 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
"Let him die there on the dung heap,
Fall down on his own bamstead." 40

45 "What will be left for your mother
As provision for her old age?"

47 "Let her smother m the cow barn
With a hay-sheaf in her arms:"

49 "What will be left for your brother
As provision for his future?"

51 "Let him vanish in the woodlot
Or expire on a meadow."

53 "What will be left for your sister
As provision for her future?" 50

55 "Let her fall down on the well path,
Perish in the laundry lane."

57 Kullervo, son of Kalervo,
Leaves his home immediately,
Stopping only to inquire:
"Goodbye now, my good father!
Will you mourn for me, my father,
When you hear that I am dead
And have vanished from the nation,
Have departed from the clan?" 60

65 And to that his father answered:
"No, I will not mourn for you
If I hear that you are dead.
Another boy will be begotten,
Far better and more talented."

71 And to that his son replied:
"Neither will I mourn for you
If I hear that you are dead.
I can make me such a father:
Mouth of mud and head of rock, 70
Eyes of cranberries from the bog,
Beard of winter-withered grasses;
Legs from the fork of water-willow
And the flesh from rotten punkwood."

81 Thereupon he asked his brother:
"Goodbye now, my little brother;
Will you mourn for me, my brother,
When you hear that I am dead
And have vanished from the nation,
Have departed from the clan?" so

87 And to that his brother answered:
"No, I will not mourn for you
If I hear that you are dead.
I will get another brother
Twice as handsome and far better."

93 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
"Neither will I mourn for you
If I hear that you are dead.
I can make me such another:
Mouth of mud and head of rock, 90
Eyes of cranberries from the bog,
Hair of winter-withered grasses,
Legs from the fork of water-willow
And the flesh from rotten punkwood."

103 Thereupon he asked his sister:
"Goodbye now, my little sister;
Will you mourn for me, my sister,
When you hear that I am dead
And have vanished from the nation,
Have departed from the clan?" 100

109 And to that his sister answered:
"No, I will not mourn for you
If I hear that you are dead.
I will get another brother
Better and more talented."

115 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
"Neither will I mourn for you
If I hear that you are dead.
I can make me such another:
Head of rock and mouth of mud, 110
Eyes of cranberries from the bog,
Hair of winter-withered grasses,
Ears of pond-grown water lilies,
Torso from a maple sapling."

125 Thereupon he asked his mother:
"My dear mother, little mother,
Gentle carrier, golden bearer,
Will you mourn for me, my mother
When you hear that I am dead
And have vanished from the nation, 120
Have departed from the clan?"

133 And to that his mother answered:
"You don't know a mother's mind,
Understand a mother's heart.
Yes, of course I'll mourn for you
When I hear that you are dead,
Taken from the nation's number
And departed from the clan.
I will flood the house with weeping,
Making waves upon the floorboards; 130
I will weep there all bent over
In the lanes and in the cowbarn.
I will weep the snow to glare ice
And the glare ice into thaw,
All the thawed ground into greening
And the greening into stubble.

149 "What I cannot bear to weep,
Cannot bear to weep in public,
I will sob out in the sauna,
Weep in secret in the sauna, 140
Overflowing bench and platform."

155 Kullervo, son of Kalervo,
Old man's son in blue stockings,
Went off piping to the war,
Went rejoicing to the battle.
He sang and piped on marsh and moor,
High-hallooing on the heather,
Quaking, shaking grass and greensward,
Booming over stump and stubble.

163 But a message followed him, 150
And the tidings reached' his ears:
"Now at home your father's dead,
Your respected parent perished.
Now go back and see to it
How the corpse is to be buried."

169 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
"If he's dead- so what, he's dead!
There at home we have a gelding
That can haul him to the graveyard,
Haul him to the house of Kalma." 160

175 Still he piped along the marshes,
Making music through the clearings.
Still a message followed him
And the tidings reached his ears:
"Now at home your brother's dead,
The child of your parents perished.
Now go back and see to it
How the corpse is to be buried."

183 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
"If he's dead- so what, he's dead! 170
And they have a stallion there
That can haul him to the graveyard,
Haul him to the house of Kalma."

189 Still he piped along the marshes
And made music through the fir groves.
Still a message followed him
And the tidings reached his ears:
"Now at home your sister's dead,
The child of your parents perished.
Now go back and see to it, 180
How the corpse is to be buried."

197 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
"If she's dead- so what, she's dead!
And we have a mare at home
That can haul her to the graveyard,
Haul her to the house of Kalma."

203 Over the fields he went piping,
Racketing through the grassy glades.
Still a message followed him
And the tidings reached his ears: 190
"Now your loving mother's dead,
Your most tender mother perished.
Now go back and see to it,
How the strangers bury her."1

211 Said Kullervo Kalervoson:
"Woe to me, miserable man,
That my mother should have died,
The netting-maker pined >away.
She, the cloak-embroiderer, perished,
Spinner of the longest thread, 200
Readiest handler of a distaff.
At the end I was not with her,
With her when her breath departed!
Did she die of bitter weather,
Or perhaps for want of bread?

223 "Let the corpse be washed at home,
Washed with Saxon soap2 and water;
Wrap her in silk cerements,
In a linen winding sheet.
Then escort her to the graveyard, 210
Take her to the house of Kalma
While you sing the mourner's song.
I myself cannot go home now:
I have yet to work my vengeance.
Untamo is still unconquered,
That base villain not destroyed."

235 Piping still he marched to war
Against the House of Untamoinen.
"Ukko, god of gods," he prayed,
"Grant me now a lovely sword, 220
The most excellent of blades
To avail against a host,
Even if they come in hundreds."

243 Thus he got the sword he wanted,
The most excellent of blades,
And he cut down all the nation
And destroyed the host of Unto;
Burned the homestead down to ashes,
Smouldering down to very cinders,
Leaving only hearthstones standing 230
And the rowan in the farmyard.

251 Kalervoson now turned homeward,
Homeward to his father's farmyard,
To the meadows of his elders:
House all empty when he got there,
Deserted when the door was opened.
No one comes out to embrace him,
None to offer him a hand.

259 Stretched his hand out to the embers,
But the embers there were cold. 240
Thus he knew that when he got there
Mother was no longer living.

263 Laid his hand upon the stovetop,
But the stones there too were cold.
Thus he knew that when he got there
Father was no longer living.3

267 Then he looked down at the floor,
But the floor had not been swept.
Thus he knew that when he got there
Sister was no longer living. 250

271 Then he went down to the harbor,
But no boat was at the jetty.
Thus he knew that when he got there
Brother was no longer living.

275 Thereupon he broke out weeping,
Wept a day and wept a second:
"O my mother, dearest mother,
What did you bequeath me here
When you lived here on this earth?

281 "But you do not hear me, mother, 260
Though I weep above your eyes
Or lament above your brow,
Speaking here above your head."

285 From the grave his mother heard him,
From beneath the mold she answered:
"But I did leave Blackie dog
As a help for you in hunting.
Take the dog along with you
And go yonder to the forest,
High up in the backwoods country, 270
There among the woodland maids,
To the playground of the wood nymphs
On the edge of a piney castle,
There to search for your provisions
And entreat them for good hunting."

297 Kullervo, son of Kalervo,
Took the dog along with him,
Started out to climb the trail
Rising to the backwoods country.
He walked on a little stretch, 280
Then he went a little farther,
Where he came upon that place,
Happened on that very spot
Where he ruined that young maiden
And despoiled his mother's child.

307 There the lovely lawn lamented
And the tender green was grieving,
Tender meadow grasses mourning
And the heather blooms bemoaning
The deflowering of that maiden, 290
Raping of his mother's child;
Nor had any new grass grown
Nor a heather flower blossomed,
Nothing thriven on that place,
On that awful, evil spot
Where the girl had been deflowered,
Ravished there his mother-born child.

319 Kullervo, son of Kalervo,
Drew his sword, looked at it,
Turned it over, questioning: 300
Would it please this iron blade-
To devour guilty flesh
And to drink the criminal blood?

327 And the sword understood him,
Understood the man's intention
And responded in these words:
"Why should it not please me well
To devour the guilty flesh
And to drink the criminal blood
Since I eat the flesh of innocents 310
And I drink the guiltless blood?"

335 Then Kullervo Kalervoson,
Old man's son in blue stockings,
Placed the hilt upon the ground,
Pressed the haft against the heath;
Turned the point against his breast
And threw himself upon the point-
There fulfilled his destiny,
Chose dark death and met his doom.

343 Thus it was the young man perished, 320
Died the doomed man, Kullervo,
And fulfilled his fate at last,
Dying thus the hapless fellow.

347 When Vainamoinen heard it,
Heard that Kullervo had died,
That he was no more, he said:
"Do not you, O future people,
Bring up children crookedly
In the care of stupid cradlers
With a stranger as a rocker. 330
Children brought up crookedly,
Any infant cradled wrongly,
Never learns the way of things,
Never acquires a mind mature
However old he grows to be
Or however strong in body."

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