The Kalevala - Rune L

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Mariatta, child of beauty,
Grew to maidenhood in Northland,
In the cabin of her father,
In the chambers of her mother,
Golden ringlets, silver girdles,
Worn against the keys paternal,
Glittering upon her bosom;
Wore away the father's threshold
With the long robes of her garments;
Wore away the painted rafters
With her beauteous silken ribbons;
Wore away the gilded pillars
With the touching of her fingers;
Wore away the birchen flooring
With the tramping of her fur-shoes.
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Magic maid of little stature,
Guarded well her sacred virtue,
Her sincerity and honor,
Fed upon the dainty whiting,
On the inner bark of birch-wood,
On the tender flesh of lambkins.
When she hastened in the evening
To her milking in the hurdles,
Spake in innocence as follows:
"Never will the snow-white virgin
Milk the kine of one unworthy!"
When she journeyed over snow-fields,
On the seat beside her father,
Spake in purity as follows:
"Not behind a steed unworthy
Will I ever ride the snow-sledge!"
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Lived a virgin with her mother,
As a maiden highly honored,
Lived in innocence and beauty,
Daily drove her flocks to pasture,
Walking with the gentle lambkins.
When the lambkins climbed the mountains,
When they gamboled on the hill-tops,
Stepped the virgin to the meadow,
Skipping through a grove of lindens,
At the calling of the cuckoo,
To the songster's golden measures.
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Looked about, intently listened,
Sat upon the berry-meadow
Sat awhile, and meditated
On a hillock by the forest,
And soliloquized as follows:
"Call to me, thou golden cuckoo,
Sing, thou sacred bird of Northland,
Sing, thou silver breasted songster,
Speak, thou strawberry of Ehstland,
Tell bow long must I unmarried,
As a shepherdess neglected,
Wander o'er these bills and mountains,
Through these flowery fens and fallows.
Tell me, cuckoo of the woodlands,
Sing to me how many summers
I must live without a husband,
As a shepherdess neglected!"
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Lived a shepherd-maid for ages,
As a virgin with her mother.
Wretched are the lives of shepherds,
Lives of maidens still more wretched,
Guarding flocks upon the mountains;
Serpents creep in bog and stubble,
On the greensward dart the lizards;
But it was no serpent singing,
Nor a sacred lizard calling,
It was but the mountain-berry
Calling to the lonely maiden:
"Come, O virgin, come and pluck me,
Come and take me to thy bosom,
Take me, tinsel-breasted virgin,
Take me, maiden, copper-belted,
Ere the slimy snail devours me,
Ere the black-worm feeds upon me.
Hundreds pass my way unmindful,
Thousands come within my hearing,
Berry-maidens swarm about me,
Children come in countless numbers,
None of these has come to gather,
Come to pluck this ruddy berry."
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Listened to its gentle pleading,
Ran to pick the berry, calling,
With her fair and dainty fingers,.
Saw it smiling near the meadow,
Like a cranberry in feature,
Like a strawberry in flavor;
But be Virgin, Mariatta,
Could not pluck the woodland-stranger,
Thereupon she cut a charm-stick,
Downward pressed upon the berry,
When it rose as if by magic,
Rose above her shoes of ermine,
Then above her copper girdle,
Darted upward to her bosom,
Leaped upon the maiden's shoulder,
On her dimpled chin it rested,
On her lips it perched a moment,
Hastened to her tongue expectant
To and fro it rocked and lingered,
Thence it hastened on its journey,
Settled in the maiden's bosom.
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Thus became a bride impregnate,
Wedded to the mountain-berry;
Lingered in her room at morning,
Sat at midday in the darkness,
Hastened to her couch at evening.
Thus the watchful mother wonders:
"What has happened to our Mary,
To our virgin, Mariatta,
That she throws aside her girdle,
Shyly slips through hall and chamber,
Lingers in her room at morning,
Hastens to her couch at evening,
Sits at midday in the darkness?"
On the floor a babe was playing,
And the young child thus made answer:
"This has happened to our Mary,
To our virgin, Mariatta,
This misfortune to the maiden:
She has lingered by the meadows,
Played too long among the lambkins,
Tasted of the mountain-berry."
Long the virgin watched and waited,
Anxiously the days she counted,
Waiting for the dawn of trouble.
Finally she asked her mother,
These the words of Mariatta:
"Faithful mother, fond and tender,
Mother whom I love and cherish,
Make for me a place befitting,
Where my troubles may be lessened,
And my heavy burdens lightened."
This the answer of the mother:
"Woe to thee, thou Hisi-maiden,
Since thou art a bride unworthy,
Wedded only to dishonor!"
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Thus replied in truthful measures:
"I am not a maid of Hisi,
I am not a bride unworthy,
Am not wedded to dishonor;
As a shepherdess I wandered
With the lambkins to the glen-wood,
Wandered to the berry-mountain,
Where the strawberry had ripened;
Quick as thought I plucked the berry,
On my tongue I gently laid it,
To and fro it rocked and lingered,
Settled in my heaving bosom.
This the source of all my trouble,
Only cause of my dishonor!"
As the mother was relentless,
Asked the maiden of her father,
This the virgin-mother's pleading:
O my father, full of pity,
Source of both my good and evil,
Build for me a place befitting,
Where my troubles may be lessened,
And my heavy burdens lightened."
This the answer of the father,
Of the father unforgiving:
"Go, thou evil child of Hisi,
Go, thou child of sin and sorrow,
Wedded only to dishonor,
To the Great Bear's rocky chamber,
To the stone-cave of the growler,
There to lessen all thy troubles,
There to cast thy heavy burdens!"
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Thus made answer to her father:
"I am not a child of Hisi,
I am not a bride unworthy,
Am not wedded to dishonor;
I shall bear a noble hero,
I shall bear a son immortal,
Who will rule among the mighty,
Rule the ancient Wainamoinen."
Thereupon the virgin-mother
Wandered hither, wandered thither,
Seeking for a place befitting,
Seeking for a worthy birth-place
For her unborn son and hero;
Finally these words she uttered
"Piltti, thou my youngest maiden,
Trustiest of all my servants,
Seek a place within the village,
Ask it of the brook of Sara,
For the troubled Mariatta,
Child of sorrow and misfortune."
Thereupon the little maiden,
Piltti, spake these words in answer:
"Whom shall I entreat for succor,
Who will lend me his assistance?
These the words of Mariatta:
"Go and ask it of Ruotus,
Where the reed-brook pours her waters."
Thereupon the servant, Piltti,
Ever hopeful, ever willing,
Hastened to obey her mistress,
Needing not her exhortation;
Hastened like the rapid river,
Like the flying smoke of battle
To the cabin of Ruotus.
When she walked the hill-tops tottered,
When she ran the mountains trembled;
Shore-reeds danced upon the pasture,
Sandstones skipped about the heather
As the maiden, Piltti, hastened
To the dwelling of Ruotus.
At his table in his cabin
Sat Ruotus, eating, drinking,
In his simple coat of linen.
With his elbows on the table
Spake the wizard in amazement:
"Why hast thou, a maid of evil,
Come to see me in my cavern,
What the message thou art bringing?
Thereupon the servant, Piltti,
Gave this answer to the wizard:
"Seek I for a spot befitting,
Seek I for a worthy birth-place,
For an unborn child and hero;
Seek it near the Sara-streamlet,
Where the reed-brook pours her waters.
Came the wife of old Ruotus,
Walking with her arms akimbo,
Thus addressed the maiden, Piltti:
"Who is she that asks assistance,
Who the maiden thus dishonored,
What her name, and who her kindred?"
"I have come for Mariatta,
For the worthy virgin-mother."
Spake the wife of old Ruotus,
Evil-minded, cruel-hearted:
"Occupied are all our chambers,
All our bath-rooms near the reed-brook;
in the mount of fire are couches,
is a stable in the forest,
For the flaming horse of Hisi;
In the stable is a manger
Fitting birth-place for the hero
From the wife of cold misfortune,
Worthy couch for Mariatta!"
Thereupon the servant, Piltti,
Hastened to her anxious mistress,
Spake these measures, much regretting.
"There is not a place befitting,
on the silver brook of Sara.
Spake the wife of old Ruotus:
'Occupied are all the chambers,
All the bath-rooms near the reed-brook;
In the mount of fire are couches,
Is a stable, in the forest,
For the flaming horse of Hisi;
In the stable is a manger,
Fitting birth-place for the hero
From the wife of cold misfortune,
Worthy couch for Mariatta.'"
Thereupon the hapless maiden,
Mariatta, virgin-mother,
Fell to bitter tears and murmurs,
Spake these words in depths of sorrow:
"I, alas! must go an outcast,
Wander as a wretched hireling,
Like a servant in dishonor,
Hasten to the burning mountain,
To the stable in the forest,
Make my bed within a manger,
Near the flaming steed of Hisi!"
Quick the hapless virgin-mother,
Outcast from her father's dwelling,
Gathered up her flowing raiment,
Grasped a broom of birchen branches,
Hastened forth in pain and sorrow
To the stable in the woodlands,
On the heights of Tapio's mountains,
Spake these words in supplication:
"Come, I pray thee, my Creator,
Only friend in times of trouble,
Come to me and bring protection
To thy child, the virgin-mother,
To the maiden, Mariatta,
In this hour of sore affliction.
Come to me, benignant Ukko,
Come, thou only hope and refuge,
Lest thy guiltless child should perish,
Die the death of the unworthy!"
When the virgin, Mariatta,
Had arrived within the stable
Of the flaming horse of Hisi,
She addressed the steed as follows:
"Breathe, O sympathizing fire-horse,
Breathe on me, the virgin-mother,
Let thy heated breath give moisture,
Let thy pleasant warmth surround me,
Like the vapor of the morning;
Let this pure and helpless maiden
Find a refuge in thy manger!"
Thereupon the horse, in pity,
Breathed the moisture of his nostrils
On the body of the virgin,
Wrapped her in a cloud of vapor,
Gave her warmth and needed comforts,
Gave his aid to the afflicted,
To the virgin, Mariatta.
There the babe was born and cradled
Cradled in a woodland-manger,
Of the virgin, Mariatta,
Pure as pearly dews of morning,
Holy as the stars in heaven.
There the mother rocks her infant,
In his swaddling clothes she wraps him,
Lays him in her robes of linen;
Carefully the babe she nurtures,
Well she guards her much-beloved,
Guards her golden child of beauty,
Her beloved gem of silver.
But alas! the child has vanished,
Vanished while the mother slumbered.
Mariatta, lone and wretched,
Fell to weeping, broken-hearted,
Hastened off to seek her infant.
Everywhere the mother sought him,
Sought her golden child of beauty,
Her beloved gem of silver;
Sought him underneath the millstone,
In the sledge she sought him vainly,
Underneath the sieve she sought him,
Underneath the willow-basket,
Touched the trees, the grass she parted,
Long she sought her golden infant,
Sought him on the fir-tree-mountain,
In the vale, and hill, and heather;
Looks within the clumps of flowers,
Well examines every thicket,
Lifts the juniper and willow,
Lifts the branches of the alder.
Lo! a star has come to meet her,
And the star she thus beseeches-.
"O, thou guiding-star of Northland,
Star of hope, by God created,
Dost thou know and wilt thou tell me
Where my darling child has wandered,
Where my holy babe lies hidden?"
Thus the star of Northland answers:
"If I knew, I would not tell thee;
'Tis thy child that me created,
Set me here to watch at evening,
In the cold to shine forever,
Here to twinkle in the darkness."
Comes the golden Moon to meet her,
And the Moon she thus beseeches:
"Golden Moon, by Ukko fashioned,
Hope and joy of Kalevala,
Dost thou know and wilt thou tell me
Where my darling child has wandered,
Where my holy babe lies hidden?
Speaks the golden Moon in answer:
"If I knew I would not tell thee;
'Tis thy child that me created,
Here to wander in the darkness,
All alone at eve to wander
On my cold and cheerless journey,
Sleeping only in the daylight,
Shining for the good of others."
Thereupon the virgin-mother
Falls again to bitter weeping,
Hastens on through fen and forest,
Seeking for her babe departed.
Comes the silver Sun to meet her,
And the Sun she thus addresses:
"Silver Sun by Ukko fashioned,
Source of light and life to Northland,
Dost thou know and wilt thou tell me
Where my darling child has wandered,
Where my holy babe lies hidden?"
Wisely does the Sun make answer:
"Well I know thy babe's dominions,
Where thy holy child is sleeping,
Where Wainola's light lies hidden;
'Tis thy child that me created,
Made me king of earth and ether,
Made the Moon and Stars attend me,
Set me here to shine at midday,
Makes me shine in silver raiment,
Lets me sleep and rest at evening;
Yonder is thy golden infant,
There thy holy babe lies sleeping,
Hidden to his belt in water,
Hidden in the reeds and rushes."
Mariatta, child of beauty,
Virgin-mother of the Northland,
Straightway seeks her babe in Swamp-land,
Finds him in the reeds and rushes;
Takes the young child on her bosom
To the dwelling of her father.
There the infant grew in beauty,
Gathered strength, and light, and wisdom,
All of Suomi saw and wondered.
No one knew what name to give him;
When the mother named him, Flower,
Others named him, Son-of-Sorrow.
When the virgin, Mariatta,
Sought the priesthood to baptize him,
Came an old man, Wirokannas,
With a cup of holy water,
Bringing to the babe his blessing;
And the gray-beard spake as follows:
"I shall not baptize a wizard,
Shall not bless a black-magician
With the drops of holy water;
Let the young child be examined,
Let us know that he is worthy,
Lest he prove the son of witchcraft."
Thereupon old Wirokannas
Called the ancient Wainamoinen,
The eternal wisdom-singer,
To inspect the infant-wonder,
To report him good or evil.
Wainamoinen, old and faithful,
Carefully the child examined,
Gave this answer to his people:
"Since the child is but an outcast,
Born and cradled in a manger,
Since the berry is his father;
Let him lie upon the heather,
Let him sleep among the rushes,
Let him live upon the mountains;
Take the young child to the marshes,
Dash his head against the birch-tree."
Then the child of Mariatta,
Only two weeks old, made answer:
"O, thou ancient Wainamoinen,
Son of Folly and Injustice,
Senseless hero of the Northland,
Falsely hast thou rendered judgment.
In thy years, for greater follies,
Greater sins and misdemeanors,
Thou wert not unjustly punished.
In thy former years of trouble,
When thou gavest thine own brother,
For thy selfish life a ransom,
Thus to save thee from destruction,
Then thou wert not sent to Swamp-land
To be murdered for thy follies.
In thy former years of sorrow,
When the beauteous Aino perished
In the deep and boundless blue-sea,
To escape thy persecutions,
Then thou wert not evil-treated,
Wert not banished by thy people."
Thereupon old Wirokannas,
Of the wilderness the ruler,
Touched the child with holy water,
Crave the wonder-babe his blessing,
Gave him rights of royal heirship,
Free to live and grow a hero,
To become a mighty ruler,
King and Master of Karyala.
As the years passed Wainamoinen
Recognized his waning powers,
Empty-handed, heavy-hearted,
Sang his farewell song to Northland,
To the people of Wainola;
Sang himself a boat of copper,
Beautiful his bark of magic;
At the helm sat the magician,
Sat the ancient wisdom-singer.
Westward, westward, sailed the hero
O'er the blue-back of the waters,
Singing as he left Wainola,
This his plaintive song and echo:
"Suns may rise and set in Suomi,
Rise and set for generations,
When the North will learn my teachings,
Will recall my wisdom-sayings,
Hungry for the true religion.
Then will Suomi need my coming,
Watch for me at dawn of morning,
That I may bring back the Sampo,
Bring anew the harp of joyance,
Bring again the golden moonlight,
Bring again the silver sunshine,
Peace and plenty to the Northland."
Thus the ancient Wainamoinen,
In his copper-banded vessel,
Left his tribe in Kalevala,
Sailing o'er the rolling billows,
Sailing through the azure vapors,
Sailing through the dusk of evening,
Sailing to the fiery sunset,
To the higher-landed regions,
To the lower verge of heaven;
Quickly gained the far horizon,
Gained the purple-colored harbor.
There his bark be firmly anchored,
Rested in his boat of copper;
But be left his harp of magic,
Left his songs and wisdom-sayings,
To the lasting joy of Suomi.
Now I end my measured singing,
Bid my weary tongue keep silence,
Leave my songs to other singers.
Horses have their times of resting
After many hours of labor;
Even sickles will grow weary
When they have been long at reaping;
Waters seek a quiet haven
After running long in rivers;
Fire subsides and sinks in slumber
At the dawning of the morning
Therefore I should end my singing,
As my song is growing weary,
For the pleasure of the evening,
For the joy of morn arising.
Often I have heard it chanted,
Often heard the words repeated:
"Worthy cataracts and rivers
Never empty all their waters."
Thus the wise and worthy singer
Sings not all his garnered wisdom;
Better leave unsung some sayings
Than to sing them out of season.
Thus beginning, and thus ending,
Do I roll up all my legends,
Roll them in a ball for safety,
In my memory arrange them,
In their narrow place of resting,
Lest the songs escape unheeded,
While the lock is still unopened,
While the teeth remain unparted,
And the weary tongue is silent.
Why should I sing other legends,
Chant them in the glen and forest,
Sing them on the hill and heather?
Cold and still my golden mother
Lies beneath the meadow, sleeping,
Hears my ancient songs no longer,
Cannot listen to my singing;
Only will the forest listen,
Sacred birches, sighing pine-trees,
Junipers endowed with kindness,
Alder-trees that love to bear me,
With the aspens and the willows.
When my loving mother left me,
Young was I, and low of stature;
Like the cuckoo of the forest,
Like the thrush upon the heather,
Like the lark I learned to twitter,
Learned to sing my simple measures,
Guided by a second mother,
Stern and cold, without affection;
Drove me helpless from my chamber
To the wind-side of her dwelling,
To the north-side of her cottage,
Where the chilling winds in mercy
Carried off the unprotected.
As a lark I learned to wander,
Wander as a lonely song-bird,
Through the forests and the fenlands
Quietly o'er hill and heather;
Walked in pain about the marshes,
Learned the songs of winds and waters,
Learned the music of the ocean,
And the echoes of the woodlands.
Many men that live to murmur,
Many women live to censure,
Many speak with evil motives;
Many they with wretched voices
Curse me for my wretched singing,
Blame my tongue for speaking wisdom,
Call my ancient songs unworthy,
Blame the songs and curse the singer.
Be not thus, my worthy people,
Blame me not for singing badly,
Unpretending as a minstrel.
I have never had the teaching,
Never lived with ancient heroes,
Never learned the tongues of strangers,
Never claimed to know much wisdom.
Others have had language-masters,
Nature was my only teacher,
Woods and waters my instructors.
Homeless, friendless, lone, and needy,
Save in childhood with my mother,
When beneath her painted rafters,
Where she twirled the flying spindle,
By the work-bench of my brother,
By the window of my sister,
In. the cabin of my father,
In my early days of childhood.
Be this as it may, my people,
This may point the way to others,
To the singers better gifted,
For the good of future ages,
For the coming generations,
For the rising folk of Suomi.

© Elias Lönnrot