The Kalevala - Rune XII

written by

« Reload image


Lemminkainen, artful husband,
Reckless hero, Kaukomieli,
Constantly beside his young wife.,
Passed his life in sweet contentment,
And the years rolled swiftly onward;
Ahti thought not of the battles,
Nor Kyllikki of the dances.
Once upon a time it happened
That the hero, Lemminkainen,
Went upon the lake a-fishing,
Was not home at early evening,
As the cruel night descended;
To the village went Kyllikki,
To the dance of merry maidens.
Who will tell the evil story,
Who will bear the information
To the husband, Lemminkainen?
Ahti's sister tells the story,
And the sister's name, Ainikki.
Soon she spreads the cruel tidings,
Straightway gives the information,
Of Kyllikki's perjured honor,
These the words Ainikki utters:
"Ahti, my beloved brother,
To the village went Kyllikki,
To the hall of many strangers,
To the plays and village dances,
With the young men and the maidens,
With the maids of braided tresses,
To the halls of joy and pleasure."
Lemminkainen, much dejected,
Broken-hearted, flushed with anger,
Spake these words in measured accents:
"Mother dear, my gray-haired mother,
Wilt thou straightway wash my linen
In the blood of poison-serpents,
In the black blood of the adder?
I must hasten to the combat,
To the camp-fires of the Northland,
To the battle-fields of Lapland;
To the village went Kyllikki,
To the play of merry maidens,
To the games and village dances,
With the maids of braided tresses."
Straightway speaks the wife, Kyllikki:
"My beloved husband, Ahti,
Do not go to war, I pray thee.
In the evening I lay sleeping,
Slumbering I saw in dream-land
Fire upshooting from the chimney,
Flames arising, mounting skyward,
From the windows of this dwelling,
From the summits of these rafters,
Piercing through our upper chambers,
Roaring like the fall of waters,
Leaping from the floor and ceiling,
Darting from the halls and doorways."
But the doubting Lemminkainen
Makes this answer to Kyllikki:
"I discredit dreams or women,
Have no faith in vows of maidens!
Faithful mother of my being,
Hither bring my mail of copper;
Strong desire is stirring in me
For the cup of deadly combat,
For the mead of martial conquest."
This the pleading mother's answer:
"Lemminkainen, son beloved,
Do not go to war I pray thee;
We have foaming beer abundant,
In our vessels beer of barley,
Held in casks by oaken spigots;
Drink this beer of peace and pleasure,
Let us drink of it together."
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
"I shall taste no more the viands,
In the home of false Kyllikki;
Rather would I drink the water
From the painted tips of birch-oars;
Sweeter far to me the water,
Than the beverage of dishonor,
At my mother's home and fireside!
"Hither bring my martial doublet,
Bring me now the sword of battle,
Bring my father's sword of honor;
I must go to upper Northland,
To the battle-fields of Lapland,
There to win me gold and silver."
This the anxious mother's answer:
"My beloved Kaukomieli,
We have gold in great abundance,
Gold and silver in the store-room;
Recently upon the uplands,
In the early hours of morning,
Toiled the workmen in the corn-fields,
Plowed the meadows filled with serpents,
When the plowshare raised the cover
From a chest of gold and silver,
Countless was the gold uncovered,
Hid beneath the grassy meadow;
This the treasure I have brought thee,
Take the countless gold in welcome."
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
"Do not wish thy household silver,
From the wars I'll earn my silver;
Gold and silver from the combat
Are to me of greater value
Than the wealth thou hast discovered.
Bring me now my heavy armor,
Bring me too my spear and broadsword;
To the Northland I must hasten,
To the bloody wars of Lapland,
Thither does my pride impel me,
Thitherward my heart is turning.
"I have heard a tale of Lapland,
Some believe the wondrous story,
That a maid in Pimentola
Lives that does not care for suitors,
Does not care for bearded heroes."
This the aged mother's answer:
"Warlike Athi, son beloved,
In thy home thou hast Kyllikki,
Fairest wife of all the islands;
Strange to see two wives abiding
In the home of but one husband."
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
"To the village runs Kyllikki;
Let her run to village dances,
Let her sleep in other dwellings,
With the village youth find pleasure,
With the maids of braided tresses."
Seeks the mother to detain him,
Thus the anxious mother answers:
"Do not go, my son beloved,
Ignorant of Pohya-witchcraft,
To the distant homes of Northland
Till thou hast the art of magic,
Till thou hast some little wisdom
Do not go to fields of battle,
To the fires of Northland's children,
To the slaughter-fields of Lapland,
Till of magic thou art master.
There the Lapland maids will charm thee,
Turyalanders will bewitch thee,
Sing thy visage into charcoal,
Head and shoulders to the furnace,
Into ashes sing thy fore-arm,
Into fire direct thy footsteps."
Spake the warlike Lemminkainen:
Wizards often have bewitched me,
And the fascinating serpents;
Lapland wizards, three in number,
On an eve in time of summer,
Sitting on a rock at twilight,
Not a garment to protect them,
Once bewitched me with their magic;
This much they have taken from me,
This the sum of all my losses:
What the hatchet gains from flint-stone,
What the auger bores from granite,
What the heel chips from the iceberg,
And what death purloins from tomb-stones.
"Horribly the wizards threatened,
Tried to sink me with their magic,
In the water of the marshes,
In the mud and treacherous quicksand,
To my chin in mire and water;
But I too was born a hero,
Born a hero and magician,
Was not troubled by their magic.
"Straightway I began my singing,
Sang the archers with their arrows,
Sang the spearmen with their weapons,
Sang the swordsmen with their poniards,
Sang the singers with their singing,
The enchanters with their magic,
To the rapids of the rivers,
To the highest fall of waters,
To the all-devouring whirlpool,
To the deepest depths of ocean,
Where the wizards still are sleeping,
Sleeping till the grass shoots upward
Through the beards and wrinkled faces,
Through the locks of the enchanters,
As they sleep beneath the billows."
Still entreats the anxious mother,
Still beseeches Lemminkainen,
Trying to restrain the hero,
While Kyllikki begs forgiveness;
This the language of the mother:
"Do not go, my son beloved,
To the villages of Northland,
Nor to Lapland's frigid borders;
Dire misfortune will befall thee,
Star of evil settle o'er thee,
Lemminkainen's end, destruction.
"Couldst thou speak in tongues a hundred,
I could not believe thee able,
Through the magic of thy singing,
To enchant the sons of Lapland
To the bottom of the ocean,
Dost not know the Tury-language,
Canst but speak the tongue of Suomi,
Canst not win by witless magic."
Lemminkainen, reckless hero,
Also known as Kaukomieli,
Stood beside his mother, combing
Out his sable locks and musing,
Brushing down his beard, debating,
Steadfast still in his decision,
Quickly hurls his brush in anger,
Hurls it to the wall opposing,
Gives his mother final answer,
These the words that Ahti uses:
"Dire misfortune will befall me,
Some sad fate will overtake me,
Evil come to Lemminkainen,
When the blood flows from that hair-brush,
When blood oozes from those bristles."
Thus the warlike Lemminkainen
Goes to never-pleasant Lapland,
Heeding not his mother's warning,
Heeding not her prohibition.
Thus the hero, Kaukomieli,
Quick equips himself for warfare,
On his head a copper helmet,
On his shoulders caps of copper,
On his body iron armor,
Steel, the belt around his body;
As he girds himself for battle,
Ahti thus soliloquizing:
"Strong the hero in his armor,
Strong indeed in copper helmet,
Powerful in mail of iron,
Stronger far than any hero
On the dismal shores of Lapland,
Need not fear their wise enchanters,
Need not fear their strongest foemen,
Need not fear a war with wizards."
Grasped he then the sword of battle,
Firmly grasped the heavy broadsword
That Tuoni had been grinding,
That the gods had brightly burnished,
Thrust it in the leathern scabbard,
Tied the scabbard to his armor.
How do heroes guard from danger,
Where protect themselves from evil?
Heroes guard their homes and firesides,
Guard their doors, and roofs, and windows,
Guard the posts that bold the torch-lights,
Guard the highways to the court-yard,
Guard the ends of all the gate-ways.
Heroes guard themselves from women,
Carefully from merry maidens;
If in this their strength be wanting,
Easy fall the heroes, victims
To the snares of the enchanters.
Furthermore are heroes watchful
Of the tribes of warlike giants,
Where the highway doubly branches,
On the borders of the blue-rock,
On the marshes filled with evil,
Near the mighty fall of waters,
Near the circling of the whirlpool,
Near the fiery springs and rapids.
Spake the stout-heart, Lemminkainen:
"Rise ye heroes of the broadsword,
Ye, the earth's eternal heroes,
From the deeps, ye sickle-bearers,
From the brooks, ye crossbow-shooters,
Come, thou forest, with thine archers,
Come, ye thickets, with your armies,
Mountain spirits, with your powers,
Come, fell Hisi, with thy horrors,
Water-mother, with thy dangers,
Come, Wellamo, with thy mermaids,
Come, ye maidens from the valleys,
Come, ye nymphs from winding rivers,
Be protection to this hero,
Be his day-and-night companions,
Body-guard to Lemminkainen,
Thus to blunt the spears of wizards,
Thus to dull their pointed arrows,
That the spears of the enchanters,
That the arrows of the archers,
That the weapons of the foemen,
May not harm this bearded hero.
"Should this force be insufficient,
I can call on other powers,
I can call the gods above me,
Call the great god of the heavens,
Him who gives the clouds their courses,
Him who rules through boundless ether,
Who directs the march of storm-winds.
"Ukko, thou O God above me,
Thou the father of creation,
Thou that speakest through the thunder,
Thou whose weapon is the lightning,
Thou whose voice is borne by ether,
Grant me now thy mighty fire-sword,
Give me here thy burning arrows,
Lightning arrows for my quiver,
Thus protect me from all danger,
Guard me from the wiles of witches,
Guide my feet from every evil,
Help me conquer the enchanters,
Help me drive them from the Northland;
Those that stand in front of battle,
Those that fill the ranks behind me,
Those around me, those above me,
Those beneath me, help me banish,.
With their knives, and swords, and cross-bows,
With their spears of keenest temper,
With their tongues of evil magic;
Help me drive these Lapland wizards
To the deepest depths of ocean,
There to wrestle with Wellamo."
Then the reckless Lemminkainen
Whistled loudly for his stallion,
Called the racer from the hurdles,
Called his brown steed from the pasture,
Threw the harness on the courser,
Hitched the fleet-foot to the snow-sledge,
Leaped upon the highest cross-bench,
Cracked his whip above the racer,
And the steed flies onward swiftly,
Bounds the sleigh upon its journey,
And the golden plain re-echoes;
Travels one day, then a second,
Travels all the next day northward,
Till the third day evening brings him
To a sorry Northland village,
On the dismal shores of Lapland.
Here the hero, Lemminkainen,
Drove along the lowest highway,
Through the streets along the border,
To a court-yard in the hamlet,
Asked one standing in the doorway:
"Is there one within this dwelling,
That can loose my stallion's breastplate,
That can lift his heavy collar,
That these shafts can rightly lower?"
On the floor a babe was playing,
And the young child gave this answer:
"There is no one in this dwelling
That can loose thy stallion's breastplate,
That can lift his heavy collar,
That the shafts can rightly lower."
Lemminkainen, not discouraged,
Whips his racer to a gallop,
Rushes forward through the village,
On the middle of the highways,
To the court-yard in the centre,
Asks one standing in the threshold,
Leaning on the penthouse door-posts:
"Is there any one here dwelling
That can slip my stallion's bridle,
That can loose his leathern breast-straps,
That can tend my royal racer?"
From the fire-place spake a wizard,
From her bench the witch made answer:
"Thou canst find one in this dwelling,
That can slip thy courser's bridle,
That can loose his heavy breastplate,
That can tend thy royal racer.
There are here a thousand heroes
That can make thee hasten homeward,
That can give thee fleet-foot stallions,
That can chase thee to thy country,
Reckless rascal and magician,
To thy home and fellow minstrels,
To the uplands of thy father,
To the cabins of thy mother,
To the work-bench of thy brother,
To the dairy or thy sister,
Ere the evening star has risen,
Ere the sun retires to slumber."
Lemminkainen, little fearing,
Gives this answer to the wizard:
"I should slay thee for thy pertness,
That thy clatter might be silenced."
Then he whipped his fiery charger,
And the steed flew onward swiftly,
On the upper of the highways,
To the court-yard on the summit.
When the reckless Lemminkainen
Had approached the upper court-yard,
Uttered he the words that follow:
"O thou Hisi, stuff this watch-dog,
Lempo, stuff his throat and nostrils,
Close the mouth of this wild barker,
Bridle well the vicious canine,
That the watcher may be silent
While the hero passes by him."
Then he stepped within the court-room,
With his whip he struck the flooring,
From the floor arose a vapor,
In the fog appeared a pigmy,
Who unhitched the royal racer,
From his back removed the harness,
Gave the weary steed attention.
Then the hero, Lemminkainen,
Carefully advanced and listened.
No one saw the strange magician,
No one heard his cautious footsteps;
Heard he songs within the dwelling,
Through the moss-stuffed chinks heard voices.
Through the walls he beard them singing,
Through the doors the peals of laughter.
Then he spied within the court-rooms,
Lurking slyly in the hall-ways,
Found the court-rooms filled with singers,
By the walls were players seated,
Near the doors the wise men hovered,
Skilful ones upon the benches,
Near the fires the wicked wizards;
All were singing songs of Lapland,
Singing songs of evil Hisi.
Now the minstrel, Lemminkainen,
Changes both his form and stature,
Passes through the inner door-ways,
Enters he the spacious court-hall,
And these words the hero utters:
"Fine the singing quickly ending,
Good the song that quickly ceases;
Better far to keep thy wisdom
Than to sing it on the house-tops."
Comes the hostess of Pohyola,
Fleetly rushing through the door-way,
To the centre of the court-room,
And addresses thus the stranger:
Formerly a dog lay watching,
Was a cur of iron-color,
Fond of flesh, a bone-devourer,
Loved to lick the blood of strangers.
Who then art thou of the heroes,
Who of all the host of heroes,
That thou art within my court-rooms,
That thou comest to my dwelling,
Was not seen without my portals,
Was not scented by my watch-dogs?
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
"Do not think that I come hither
Having neither wit nor wisdom,
Having neither art nor power,
Wanting in ancestral knowledge,
Lacking prudence of the fathers,
That thy watch-dogs may devour me.
"My devoted mother washed me,
When a frail and tender baby,
Three times in the nights of summer,
Nine times in the nights of autumn,
That upon my journeys northward
I might sing the ancient wisdom,
Thus protect myself from danger;
When at home I sing as wisely
As the minstrels of thy hamlet."
Then the singer, Lemminkainen,
Ancient hero, Kaukomieli,
Quick began his incantations,
Straightway sang the songs of witchcraft,
From his fur-robe darts the lightning,
Flames outshooting from his eye-balls,
From the magic of his singing
From his wonderful enchantment.
Sang the very best of singers
To the very worst of minstrels,
Filled their mouths with dust and ashes,
Piled the rocks upon their shoulders,
Stilled the best of Lapland witches,
Stilled the sorcerers and wizards.
Then he banished all their heroes,
Banished all their proudest minstrels,
This one hither, that one thither,
To the lowlands poor in verdure,
To the unproductive uplands,
To the oceans wanting whiting,
To the waterfalls of Rutya,
To the whirlpool hot and flaming,
To the waters decked with sea-foam,
Into fires and boiling waters,
Into everlasting torment.
Then the hero, Lemminkainen,
Sang the foemen with their broadswords?
Sang the heroes with their weapons,
Sang the eldest, sang the youngest,
Sang the middle-aged, enchanted;
Only one he left his senses,
He a poor, defenseless shepherd,
Old and sightless, halt and wretched,
And the old man's name was Nasshut.
Spake the miserable shepherd:
"Thou hast old and young enchanted,
Thou hast banished all our heroes,
Why hast spared this wretched shepherd?"
This is Lemminkainen's answer:
"Therefore have I not bewitched thee:
Thou art old, and blind, and wretched
Feeble-minded thou, and harmless,
Loathsome now without my magic.
Thou didst, in thy better life-time,
When a shepherd filled with malice,
Ruin all thy mother's berries,
Make thy sister, too unworthy,
Ruin all thy brother's cattle,
Drive to death thy father's stallions,
Through the marshes, o'er the meadows,
Through the lowlands, o'er the mountains,
Heeding not thy mother's counsel."
Thereupon the wretched Nasshut,
Angry grew and swore for vengeance,
Straightway limping through the door-way,
Hobbled on beyond the court-yard,
O'er the meadow-lands and pastures,
To the river of the death-land,
To the holy stream and whirlpool,
To the kingdom of Tuoni,
To the islands of Manala;
Waited there for Kaukomieli,
Listened long for Lemminkainen,
Thinking he must pass this river
On his journey to his country,
On. the highway to the islands,
From the upper shores of Pohya,
From the dreary Sariola.

© Elias Lönnrot