The Kalevala - Rune XXVI

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Ahti, living on the island,
Near the Kauko-point and harbor,
Plowed his fields for rye and barley,
Furrowed his extensive pastures,
Heard with quickened ears an uproar,
Heard the village in commotion,
Heard a noise along the sea-shore,
Heard the foot-steps on the ice-plain,
Heard the rattle of the sledges;
Quick his mind divined the reason,
Knew it was Pohyola's wedding,
Wedding of the Rainbow-virgin.
Quick he stopped in disappointment,
Shook his sable locks in envy,
Turned his hero-head in anger,
While the scarlet blood ceased flowing
Through his pallid face and temples;
Ceased his plowing and his sowing,
On the field he left the furrows,
On his steed he lightly mounted,
Straightway galloped fleetly homeward
To his well-beloved mother,
To his mother old and golden,
Gave his mother these directions,
These the words of Lemminkainen:
"My beloved, faithful mother,
Quickly bring me beer and viands,
Bring me food for I am hungry,
Food and drink for me abundant,
Have my bath-room quickly heated,
Quickly set the room in order,
That I may refresh my body,
Dress myself in hero-raiment."
Lemminkainen's aged mother
Brings her hero food in plenty,
Beer and viands for the hungry,
For her thirsting son and hero;
Quick she heats the ancient bath-room,
Quickly sets his bath in order.
Then the reckless Lemminkainen
Ate his meat with beer inspiring,
Hastened to his bath awaiting;
Only was the bullfinch bathing,
With the many-colored bunting;
Quick the hero laved his temples,
Laved himself to flaxen whiteness,
Quick returning to his mother,
Spake in haste the words that follow:
"My beloved, helpful mother,
Go at once to yonder mountain,
To the store-house on the hill-top,
Bring my vest of finest texture,
Bring my hero-coat of purple,
Bring my suit of magic colors,
Thus to make me look attractive,
Thus to robe myself in beauty."
First the ancient mother asked him,
Asked her son this simple question:
"Whither dost thou go, my hero?
Dost thou go to hunt the roebuck,
Chase the lynx upon the mountains,
Shoot the squirrel in the woodlands?"
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen,
Also known as Kaukomieli:
"Worthy mother of my being,
Go I not to hunt the roebuck,
Chase the lynx upon the mountains,
Shoot the squirrel on the tree-tops;
I am going to Pohyola,
To the feasting of her people.
Bring at once my purple vestments,
Straightway bring my nuptial outfit,
Let me don it for the marriage
Of the maiden of the Northland."
But the ancient dame dissented,
And the wife forebade the husband;
Two of all the best of heroes,
Three of nature's fairest daughters,
Strongly urged wild Lemminkainen
Not to go to Sariola,
To Pohyola's great carousal,
To the marriage-feast of Northland,
"Since thou hast not been invited,
Since they do not wish thy presence."
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen.
These the words of Kaukomieli:
"Where the wicked are invited,
There the good are always welcome,
Herein lies my invitation;
I am constantly reminded
By this sword of sharpened edges,
By this magic blade and scabbard,
That Pohyola needs my presence."
Lemminkainen's aged mother
Sought again to stay her hero:
"Do not go, my son beloved,
To the feasting in Pohyola;
Full of horrors are the highways,
On the road are many wonders,
Three times Death appears to frighten,
Thrice destruction hovers over!"
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen,
These the words of Kaukomieli:
"Death is seen by aged people,
Everywhere they see perdition,
Death can never frighten heroes,
Heroes do not fear the spectre;
Be that as it may, dear mother,
Tell that I may understand thee,
Name the first of all destructions,
Name the first and last destroyers!"
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"I will tell thee, son and hero,
Not because I wish to speak it,
But because the truth is worthy;
I will name the chief destruction,
Name the first of the destroyers.
When thou hast a distance journeyed,
Only one day hast thou travelled,
Comes a stream along the highway,
Stream of fire of wondrous beauty,
In the stream a mighty fire-spout,
In the spout a rock uprising,
On the rock a fiery hillock,
On the top a flaming eagle,
And his crooked beak he sharpens,
Sharpens too his bloody talons,
For the coming of the stranger,
For the people that approach him."
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli:
"Women die beneath the eagle,
Such is not the death of heroes;
Know I well a magic lotion,
That will heal the wounds of eagles;
Make myself a steed of alders,
That will walk as my companion,
That will stride ahead majestic;
As a duck I'll drive behind him,
Drive him o'er the fatal waters,
Underneath the flaming eagle,
With his bloody beak and talons.
Worthy mother of my being,
Name the second of destroyers."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"This the second of destroyers:
When thou hast a distance wandered,
Only two clays hast thou travelled,
Comes a pit of fire to meet thee,
In the centre of the highway,
Eastward far the pit extending,
Stretches endless to the westward,
Filled with burning coals and pebbles,
Glowing with the heat of ages;
Hundreds has this monster swallowed,
In his jaws have thousands perished,
Hundreds with their trusty broadswords,
Thousands on their fiery chargers."
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli:
"Never will the hero perish
In the jaws of such a monster;
Know I well the means of safety,
Know a remedy efficient:
I will make of snow a master,
On the snow-clad fields, a hero,
Drive the snow-man on before me,
Drive him through the flaming vortex,
Drive him through the fiery furnace,
With my magic broom of copper;
I will follow in his shadow,
Follow close the magic image,
Thus escape the frightful monster,
With my golden locks uninjured,
With my flowing beard untangled.
Ancient mother of my being,
Name the last of the destructions,
Name the third of the destroyers."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"This the third of fatal dangers:
Hast thou gone a greater distance,
Hast thou travelled one day longer,
To the portals of Pohyola,
To the narrowest of gate-ways,
There a wolf will rise to meet thee,
There the black-bear sneak upon thee-,
In Pohyola's darksome portals,
Hundreds in their jaws have perished,
Have devoured a thousand heroes;
Wherefore will they not destroy thee,
Since thy form is unprotected?"
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli:
"Let them eat the gentle lambkins,
Feed upon their tender tissues,
They cannot devour this hero;
I am girded with my buckler,
Girded with my belt of copper,
Armlets wear I of the master,
From the wolf and bear protected,
Will not hasten to Untamo.
I can meet the wolf of Lempo,
For the bear I have a balsam,
For his mouth I conjure bridles,
For the wolf, forge chains of iron;
I will smite them as the willow,
Chop them into little fragments,
Thus I'll gain the open court-yard,
Thus triumphant end my journey."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"Then thy journey is not ended,
Greater dangers still await thee,
Great the wonders yet before thee,
Horrors three within thy pathway;
Three great dangers of the hero
Still await thy reckless footsteps,
These the worst of all thy dangers:
When thou hast still farther wandered,
Thou wilt reach the Court of Pohya,
Where the walls are forged from iron,
And from steel the outer bulwark;
Rises from the earth to heaven,
Back again to earth returning;
Double spears are used for railings,
On each spear are serpents winding,
On each rail are stinging adders;
Lizards too adorn the bulwarks,
Play their long tails in the sunlight,
Hissing lizards, venomed serpents,
Jump and writhe upon the rampart,
Turn their horrid heads to meet thee;
On the greensward lie the monsters,
On the ground the things of evil,
With their pliant tongues of venom,
Hissing, striking, crawling, writhing;
One more horrid than the others,
Lies before the fatal gate-way,
Longer than the longest rafters,
Larger than the largest portals;
Hisses with the tongue of anger,
Lifts his head in awful menace,
Raises it to strike none other
Than the hero of the islands."
Spake the warlike Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli:
"By such things the children perish,
Such is not the death of heroes;
Know I well the fire to manage,
I can quench the flames of passion,
I can meet the prowling wild-beasts,
Can appease the wrath of serpents,
I can heal the sting of adders,
I have plowed the serpent-pastures,
Plowed the adder-fields of Northland;
While my hands were unprotected,
Held the serpents in my fingers,
Drove the adders to Manala,
On my hands the blood of serpents,
On my feet the fat of adders.
Never will thy hero stumble
On the serpents of the Northland;
With my heel I'll crush the monsters,
Stamp the horrid things to atoms;
I will banish them from Pohya,
Drive them to Manala's kingdom,
Step within Pohyola's mansion,
Walk the halls of Sariola!"
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"Do not go, my son beloved,
To the firesides of Pohyola,
Through the Northland fields and fallows;
There are warriors with broadswords,
Heroes clad in mail of copper,
Are on beer intoxicated,
By the beer are much embittered;
They will charm thee, hapless creature,
On the tips of swords of magic;
Greater heroes have been conjured,
Stronger ones have been outwitted."
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
"Formerly thy son resided
In the hamlets of Pohyola;
Laplanders cannot enchant me,
Nor the Turyalanders harm me
I the, Laplander will conjure,
Charm him with my magic powers,
Sing his shoulders wide asunder,
In his chin I'll sing a fissure,
Sing his collar-bone to pieces,
Sing his breast to thousand fragments."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"Foolish son, ungrateful wizard,
Boasting of thy former visit,
Boasting of thy fatal journey!
Once in Northland thou wert living,
In the homesteads of Pohyola;
There thou tried to swim the whirlpool,
Tasted there the dog-tongue waters,
Floated down the fatal current,
Sank beneath its angry billows;
Thou hast seen Tuoni's river,
Thou hast measured Mana's waters,
There to-day thou wouldst be sleeping,
Had it not been for thy mother!
What I tell thee well remember,
Shouldst thou gain Pohyola's chambers,
Filled with stakes thou'lt find the court-yard,
These to hold the heads of heroes;
There thy head will rest forever,
Shouldst thou go to Sariola."
Spake the warlike Lemminkainen:
"Fools indeed may heed thy counsel,
Cowards too may give attention;
Those of seven conquest-summers
Cannot heed such weak advising.
Bring to me my battle-armor.
Bring my magic mail of copper,
Bring me too my father's broadsword,
Keep the old man's blade from rusting;
Long it has been cold and idle,
Long has lain in secret places,
Long and constantly been weeping,
Long been asking for a bearer."
Then he took his mail of copper,
Took his ancient battle-armor,
Took his father's sword of magic,
Tried its point against the oak-wood,
Tried its edge upon the sorb-tree;
In his hand the blade was bended,
Like the limber boughs of willow,
Like the juniper in summer.
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
"There is none in Pohya's hamlets,
In the courts of Sariola,
That with me can measure broadswords,
That can meet this blade ancestral."
From the nail he took a cross-bow,
Took the strongest from the rafters,
Spake these words in meditation:
"I shall recognize as worthy,
Recognize that one a hero
That can bend this mighty cross-bow,
That can break its magic sinews,
In the hamlets of Pohyola."
Lemminkainen, filled with courage,
Girds himself in suit of battle,
Dons his mighty mail of copper,
To his servant speaks as follows:
"Trusty slave, and whom I purchased,
Whom I bought with gold and silver,
Quick prepare my fiery charger,
Harness well my steed of battle;
I am going to the feasting,
To the banquet-fields of Lempo."
Quick obeys the faithful servant,
Hitches well the noble war-horse,
Quick prepares the fire-red stallion,
Speaks these words when all is I ready:
"I have done what thou hast hidden,
Ready harnessed is the charger,
Waiting to obey his master."
Comes the hour of the departing
Of the hero, Lemminkainen,
Right hand ready, left unwilling,
All his anxious fingers pain him,
Till at last in full obedience,
All his members give permission;
Starts the hero on his journey,
While the mother gives him counsel,
At the threshold of the dwelling,
At the highway of the court-yard:
"Child of courage, my beloved,
Son of strength, my wisdom-hero,
If thou goest to the feasting,
Shouldst thou reach the great carousal,
Drink thou only a half a cupful,
Drink the goblet to the middle,
Always give the half remaining,
Give the worse half to another,
To another more unworthy;
In the lower half are serpents,
Worms, and frogs, and hissing lizards,
Feeding on the slimy bottom."
Furthermore she tells her hero,
Gives her son these sage directions,
On the border of the court-yard,
At the portals farthest distant:
"If thou goest to the banquet,
Shouldst thou reach the great carousal,
Occupy but half the settle,
Take but half a stride in walking,
Give the second half to others,
To another less deserving;
Only thus thou'lt be a hero,
Thus become a son immortal;
In the guest-rooms look courageous,
Bravely move about the chambers,
In the gatherings of heroes,
With the hosts of magic valor."
Thereupon wild Lemminkainen
Quickly leaped upon the cross-bench
Of his battle-sledge of wonder,
Raised his pearl-enamelled birch-rod,
Snapped his whip above his charger,
And the steed flew onward fleetly,
Galloped on his distant journey.
He had travelled little distance,
When a flight of hazel-chickens
Quick arose before his coming,
Flew before the foaming racer.
There were left some feathers lying,
Feathers of the hazel-chickens,
Lying in the hero's pathway.
These the reckless Lemminkainen
Gathered for their magic virtues,
Put them in his pouch of leather,
Did not know what things might happen
On his journey to Pohyola;
All things have some little value,
In a strait all things are useful.
Then he drove a little distance,
Galloped farther on the highway,
When his courser neighed in danger,
And the fleet-foot ceased his running.
Then the stout-heart, Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli,
Rose upon his seat in wonder,
Craned his neck and looked about him
Found it as his mother told him,
Found a stream of fire opposing;
Ran the fire-stream like a river,
Ran across the hero's pathway.
In the river was a fire-fall,
In the cataract a fire-rock,
On the rock a fiery hillock,
On its summit perched an eagle,
From his throat the fire was streaming
To the crater far below him,
Fire out-shooting from his feathers,
Glowing with a fiery splendor;
Long he looked upon the hero,
Long he gazed on Lemminkainen,
Then the eagle thus addressed him:
"Whither art thou driving, Ahti,
Whither going, Lemminkainen?"
Kaukomieli spake in answer:
"To the feastings of Pohyola,
To the drinking-halls of Louhi,
To the banquet of her people;
Move aside and let me journey,
Move a little from my pathway,
Let this wanderer pass by thee,
I am warlike Lemminkainen."
This the answer of the eagle,
Screaming from his throat of splendor:
"Though thou art wild Lemminkainen,
I shall let thee wander onward,
Through my fire-throat let thee journey,
Through these flames shall be thy passage
To the banquet-halls of Louhi,
To Pohyola's great carousal!"
Little heeding, Kaukomieli
Thinks himself in little trouble,
Thrusts his fingers in his pockets,
Searches in his pouch of leather,
Quickly takes the magic feathers,
Feathers from the hazel-chickens,
Rubs them into finest powder,
Rubs them with his magic fingers
Whence a flight of birds arises,
Hazel-chickens from the feathers,
Large the bevy of the young birds.
Quick the wizard, Lemminkainen,
Drives them to the eagle's fire-mouth,
Thus to satisfy his hunger,
Thus to quench the fire out-streaming.
Thus escapes the reckless hero,
Thus escapes the first of dangers,
Passes thus the first destroyer,
On his journey to Pohyola.
With his whip he strikes his courser,
With his birch-whip, pearl-enamelled;
Straightway speeds the fiery charger,
Noiselessly upon his journey,
Gallops fast and gallops faster,
Till the flying steed in terror
Neighs again and ceases running.
Lemminkainen, quickly rising,
Cranes his neck and looks about him,
Sees his mother's words were truthful,
Sees her augury well-taken.
Lo! before him yawned a fire-gulf,
Stretching crosswise through his pathway;
Far to east the gulf extending,
To the west an endless distance,
Filled with stones and burning pebbles,
Running streams of burning matter.
Little heeding, Lemminkainen
Cries aloud in prayer to Ukko:
"Ukko, thou O God above me,
Dear Creator, omnipresent,
From the north-west send a storm-cloud,
From the east, dispatch a second,
From the south send forth a third one;
Let them gather from the south-west,
Sew their edges well together,
Fill thou well the interspaces,
Send a snow-fall high as heaven,
Let it fall from upper ether,
Fall upon the flaming fire-pit,
On the cataract and whirlpool!"
Mighty Ukko, the Creator,
Ukko, father omnipresent,
Dwelling in the courts of heaven,
Sent a storm-cloud from the north-west,
From the east he sent a second,
From the south despatched a third one,
Let them gather from the south-west,
Sewed their edges well together,
Filled their many interspaces,
Sent a snow-fall high as heaven,
From the giddy heights of ether,
Sent it seething to the fire-pit,
On the streams of burning matter;
From the snow-fall in the fire-pond,
Grows a lake with rolling billows.
Quick the hero, Lemminkainen,
Conjures there of ice a passage
From one border to the other,
Thus escapes his second danger,
Thus his second trouble passes.
Then the reckless Lemminkainen
Raised his pearl-enamelled birch-rod,
Snapped his whip above his racer,
And the steed flew onward swiftly,
Galloped on his distant journey
O'er the highway to Pohyola;
Galloped fast and galloped faster,
Galloped on a greater distance,
When the stallion loudly neighing,
Stopped and trembled on the highway,
Then the lively Lemminkainen
Raised himself upon the cross-bench,
Looked to see what else had happened;
Lo I a wolf stands at the portals,
in the passage-way a black-bear,
At the high-gate of Pohyola,
At the ending of the journey.
Thereupon young Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli,
Thrusts his fingers in his pockets,
Seeks his magic pouch of leather,
Pulls therefrom a lock of ewe-wool,
Rubs it firmly in his fingers,
In his hands it falls to powder;
Breathes the breath of life upon it,
When a flock of sheep arises,
Goats and sheep of sable color;
On the flock the black-wolf pounces,
And the wild-bear aids the slaughter,
While the reckless Lemminkainen
Rushes by them on his journey;
Gallops on a little distance,
To the court of Sariola,
Finds the fence of molten iron,
And of steel the rods and pickets,
In the earth a hundred fathoms,
To the azure sky, a thousand,
Double-pointed spears projecting;
On each spear were serpents twisted,
Adders coiled in countless numbers,
Lizards mingled with the serpents,
Tails entangled pointing earthward,
While their heads were skyward whirling,
Writhing, hissing mass of evil.
Then the stout-heart, Kaukomieli,
Deeply thought and long considered:
"It is as my mother told me,
This the wall that she predicted,
Stretching from the earth to heaven;
Downward deep are serpents creeping,
Deeper still the rails extending;
High as highest flight of eagles,
Higher still the wall shoots upward."
But the hero, Lemminkainen,
Little cares, nor feels disheartened,
Draws his broadsword from its scabbard,
Draws his mighty blade ancestral,
Hews the wall with might of magic,
Breaks the palisade in pieces,
Hews to atoms seven pickets,
Chops the serpent-wall to fragments;
Through the breach he quickly passes
To the portals of Pohyola.
In the way, a serpent lying,
Lying crosswise in the entry,
Longer than the longest rafters,
Larger than the posts of oak-wood;
Hundred-eyed, the heinous serpent,
And a thousand tongues, the monster,
Eyes as large as sifting vessels,
Tongues as long as shafts of javelins,
Teeth as large as hatchet-handles,
Back as broad as skiffs of ocean.
Lemminkainen does not venture
Straightway through this host opposing,
Through the hundred heads of adders,
Through the thousand tongues of serpents.
Spake the magic Lemminkainen:
"Venomed viper, thing of evil,
Ancient adder of Tuoni,
Thou that crawlest in the stubble,
Through the flower-roots of Lempo,
Who has sent thee from thy kingdom,
Sent thee from thine evil coverts,
Sent thee hither, crawling, writhing,
In the pathway I would travel?
Who bestowed thy mouth of venom,
Who insisted, who commanded,
Thou shouldst raise thy head toward heaven,
Who thy tail has given action?
Was this given by the father,
Did the mother give this power,
Or the eldest of the brothers,
Or the youngest of the sisters,
Or some other of thy kindred?
"Close thy mouth, thou thing of evil,
Hide thy pliant tongue of venom,
In a circle wrap thy body,
Coil thou like a shield in silence,
Give to me one-half the pathway,
Let this wanderer pass by thee,
Or remove thyself entirely;
Get thee hence to yonder heather,
Quick retreat to bog and stubble,
Hide thyself in reeds and rushes,
In the brambles of the lowlands.
Like a ball of flax enfolding,
Like a sphere of aspen-branches,
With thy head and tail together,
Roll thyself to yonder mountain;
In the heather is thy dwelling,
Underneath the sod thy caverns.
Shouldst thou raise thy head in anger,
Mighty Ukko will destroy it,
Pierce it with his steel-tipped arrows,
With his death-balls made of iron!"
Hardly had the hero ended,
When the monster, little heeding,
Hissing with his tongue in anger,
Plying like the forked lightning,
Pounces with his mouth of venom
At the head of Lemminkainen;
But the hero, quick recalling,
Speaks the master-words of knowledge,
Words that came from distant ages,
Words his ancestors had taught him,
Words his mother learned in childhood,
These the words of Lemminkainen:
"Since thou wilt not heed mine order,
Since thou wilt not leave the highway,
Puffed with pride of thine own greatness,
Thou shall burst in triple pieces.
Leave thy station for the borders,
I will hunt thine ancient mother,
Sing thine origin of evil,
How arose thy head of horror;
Suoyatar, thine ancient mother,
Thing of evil, thy creator!"
"Suoyatar once let her spittle
Fall upon the waves of ocean;
This was rocked by winds and waters,
Shaken by the ocean-currents,
Six years rocked upon the billows,
Rocked in water seven summers,
On the blue-back of the ocean,
On the billows high as heaven;
Lengthwise did the billows draw it,
And the sunshine gave it softness,
To the shore the billows washed it,
On the coast the waters left it.
"Then appeared Creation's daughters,
Three the daughters thus appearing,
On the roaring shore of ocean,
There beheld the spittle lying,
And the daughters spake as follows:
'What would happen from this spittle,
Should the breath of the Creator
Fall upon the writhing matter,
Breathe the breath of life upon it,
Give the thing the sense of vision?
"The Creator heard these measures,
Spake himself the words that follow:
'Evil only comes from evil,
This is the expectoration
Of fell Suoyatar, its mother;
Therefore would the thing be evil,
Should I breathe a soul within it,
Should I give it sense of vision.'
"Hisi heard this conversation,
Ever ready with his mischief,
Made himself to be creator,
Breathed a soul into the spittle,
To fell Suoyatar's fierce anger.
Thus arose the poison-monster,
Thus was born the evil serpent,
This the origin of evil.
"Whence the life that gave her action'?
From the carbon-pile of Hisi.
Whence then was her heart created?
From the heart-throbs of her mother
Whence arose her brain of evil?
From the foam of rolling waters.
Whence was consciousness awakened?
From the waterfall's commotion.
Whence arose her head of venom?
From the seed-germs of the ivy.
Whence then came her eyes of fury?
From the flaxen seeds of Lempo.
Whence the evil ears for hearing?
From the foliage of Hisi.
Whence then was her mouth created?
This from Suoyatar's foam-currents
Whence arose thy tongue of anger r
From the spear of Keitolainen.
Whence arose thy fangs of poison?
From the teeth of Mana's daughter.
Whence then was thy back created?
From the carbon-posts of Piru.
How then was thy tail created?
From the brain of the hobgoblin.
Whence arose thy writhing entrails?
From the death-belt of Tuoni.
"This thine origin, O Serpent,
This thy charm of evil import,
Vilest thing of God's creation,
Writhing, hissing thing of evil,
With the color of Tuoni,
With the shade of earth and heaven,
With the darkness of the storm-cloud.
Get thee hence, thou loathsome monster,
Clear the pathway of this hero.
I am mighty Lemminkainen,
On my journey to Pohyola,
To the feastings and carousals,
In the halls of darksome Northland."
Thereupon the snake uncoiling,
Hundred-eyed and heinous monster,
Crawled away to other portals,
That the hero, Kaukomieli,
Might proceed upon his errand,
To the dismal Sariola,
To the feastings and carousals
In the banquet-halls of Pohya.

© Elias Lönnrot