THE DEATH OF LEMMINKAINEN
EPIC POEM OF FINLAND
DONE INTO ENGLISH
JOHN MARTIN CRAWFORD
Lemminkainen, much disheartened,
Deeply thought and long considered,
What to do, what course to follow,
Whether best to leave the wild-moose
In the fastnesses of Hisi,
And return to Kalevala,
Or a third time hunt the ranger,
Hoping thus to bring him captive,
Thus return at last a victor
To the forest home of Louhi,
To the joy of all her daughters,
To the wood-nymph's happy fireside.
Taking courage Lemminkainen
Spake these words in supplication:
"Ukko, thou O God above me,
Thou Creator of the heavens,
Put my snow-shoes well in order,
And endow them both with swiftness,
That I rapidly may journey
Over marshes, over snow-fields,
Over lowlands, over highlands,
Through the realms of wicked Hisi,
Through the distant plains of Lapland,
Through the paths of Lempo's wild-moose,
To the forest hills of Juutas.
To the snow-fields shall I journey,
Leave the heroes to the woodlands,
On the way to Tapiola,
Into Tapio's wild dwellings.
"Greeting bring I to the mountains,
Greeting to the vales and uplands,
Greet ye, heights with forests covered,
Greet ye, ever-verdant fir-trees,
Greet ye, groves of whitened aspen,
Greetings bring to those that greet you,
Fields, and streams, and woods of Lapland.
Bring me favour, mountain-woodlands,
Lapland-deserts, show me kindness,
Mighty Tapio, be gracious,
Let me wander through thy forests,
Let me glide along thy rivers,
Let this hunter search thy snow-fields,
Where the wild-moose herds in numbers
Where the bounding reindeer lingers.
"O Nyrikki, mountain hero,
Son of Tapio of forests,
Hero with the scarlet head-gear,
Notches make along the pathway,
Landmarks upward to the mountains,
That this hunter may not wander,
May not fall, and falling perish
In the snow-fields of thy kingdom,
Hunting for the moose of Hisi,
Dowry for the pride of Northland.
"Mistress of the woods, Mielikki,
Forest-mother, formed in beauty,
Let thy gold flow out abundant,
Let thy silver onward wander,
For the hero that is seeking
For the wild-moose of thy kingdom;
Bring me here thy keys of silver,
From the golden girdle round thee;
Open Tapio's rich chambers,
And unlock the forest fortress,
While I here await the booty,
While I hunt the moose of Lempo.
"Should this service be too menial
Give the order to thy servants,
Send at once thy servant-maidens,
And command it to thy people.
Thou wilt never seem a hostess,
If thou hast not in thy service,
Maidens ready by the hundreds,
Thousands that await thy bidding,
Who thy herds may watch and nurture,
Tend the game of thy dominions.
"Tall and slender forest-virgin,
Tapio's beloved daughter,
Blow thou now thy honey flute-notes,
Play upon thy forest-whistle,
For the hearing of thy mistress,
For thy charming woodland-mistress,
Make her hear thy sweet-toned playing,
That she may arise from slumber.
Should thy mistress not awaken
At the calling of thy flute-notes,
Play again, and play unceasing,
Make the golden tongue re-echo."
Wild and daring Lemminkainen
Steadfast prays upon his journey,
Calling on the gods for succor,
Hastens off through fields and moorlands,
Passes on through cruel brush-wood,
To the colliery of Hisi,
To the burning fields of Lempo;
Glided one day, then a second,
Glided all the next day onward,
Till he came to Big-stone mountain,
Climbed upon its rocky summit,
Turned his glances to the north-west,
Toward the Northland moors and marshes;
There appeared the Tapio-mansion.
All the doors were golden-coloured,
Shining in the gleam of sunlight
Through the thickets on the mountains,
Through the distant fields of Northland.
Lemminkainen, much encouraged,
Hastens onward from his station
Through the lowlands, o'er the uplands,
Over snow-fields vast and vacant,
Under snow-robed firs and aspens,
Hastens forward, happy-hearted,
Quickly reaches Tapio's court-yards,
Halts without at Tapio's windows,
Slyly looks into her mansion,
Spies within some kindly women,
Forest-dames outstretched before him,
All are clad in scanty raiment,
Dressed in soiled and ragged linens.
Spake the stranger Lemminkainen:
"Wherefore sit ye, forest-mothers,
In your old and simple garments,
In your soiled and ragged linen?
Ye, forsooth! are too untidy,
Too unsightly your appearance
In your tattered gowns apparelled.
When I lived within the forest,
There were then three mountain castles,
One of horn and one of ivory,
And the third of wood constructed;
In their walls were golden windows,
Six the windows in each castle,
Through these windows I discovered
All the host of Tapio's mansion,
Saw its fair and stately hostess;
Saw great Tapio's lovely daughter,
Saw Tellervo in her beauty,
With her train of charming maidens;
All were dressed in golden raiment,
Rustled all in gold and silver.
Then the forest's queenly hostess,
Still the hostess of these woodlands,
On her arms wore golden bracelets,
Golden rings upon her fingers,
In her hair were sparkling, jewels,
On her bead were golden fillets,
In her ears were golden ear-rings,
On her neck a pearly necklace,
And her braidlets, silver-tinselled.
"Lovely hostess of the forest,
Metsola's enchanting mistress,
Fling aside thine ugly straw-shoes,
Cast away the shoes of birch-bark,
Doff thy soiled and ragged linen,
Doff thy gown of shabby fabric,
Don the bright and festive raiment,
Don the gown of merry-making,
While I stay within thy borders,
While I seek my forest-booty,
Hunt the moose of evil Hisi.
Here my visit will be irksome,
Here thy guest will be ill-humoured,
Waiting in thy fields and woodlands,
Hunting here the moose of Lempo,
Finding not the Hisi-ranger,
Shouldst thou give me no enjoyment,
Should I find no joy, nor respite.
Long the eve that gives no pleasure,
Long the day that brings no guerdon!
"Sable-bearded god of forests,
In thy hat and coat of ermine,
Robe thy trees in finest fibres,
Deck thy groves in richest fabrics,
Give the fir-trees shining silver,
Deck with gold the slender balsams,
Give the spruces copper belting,
And the pine-trees silver girdles,
Give the birches golden flowers,
Deck their stems with silver fret-work,
This their garb in former ages,
When the days and nights were brighter,
When the fir-trees shone like sunlight,
And the birches like the moonbeams;
Honey breathed throughout the forest,
Settled in the glens and highlands
Spices in the meadow-borders,
Oil out-pouring from the lowlands.
"Forest daughter, lovely virgin,
Golden maiden, fair Tulikki,
Second of the Tapio-daughters,
Drive the game within these borders,
To these far-extending snow-fields.
Should the reindeer be too sluggish,
Should the moose-deer move too slowly
Cut a birch-rod from the thicket,
Whip them hither in their beauty,
Drive the wild-moose to my hurdle,
Hither drive the long-sought booty
To the hunter who is watching,
Waiting in the Hisi-forests.
"When the game has started hither,
Keep them in the proper highway,
Hold thy magic hands before them,
Guard them well on either road-side,
That the elk may not escape thee,
May not dart adown some by-path.
Should, perchance, the moose-deer wander
Through some by-way of the forest,
Take him by the ears and antlers,
Hither lead the pride of Lempo.
"If the path be filled with brush-wood
Cast the brush-wood to the road-side;
If the branches cross his pathway,
Break the branches into fragments;
Should a fence of fir or alder
Cross the way that leads him hither.
Make an opening within it,
Open nine obstructing fences;
If the way be crossed by streamlets,
If the path be stopped by rivers,
Make a bridge of silken fabric,
Weaving webs of scarlet colour,
Drive the deer-herd gently over,
Lead them gently o'er the waters,
O'er the rivers of thy forests,
O'er the streams of thy dominions.
"Thou, the host of Tapio's mansion,
Gracious host of Tapiola,
Sable-bearded god of woodlands,
Golden lord of Northland forests,
Thou, O Tapio's worthy hostess,
Queen of snowy woods, Mimerkki,
Ancient dame in sky-blue vesture,
Fenland-queen in scarlet ribbons,
Come I to exchange my silver,
To exchange my gold and silver;
Gold I have, as old as moonlight,
Silver of the age of sunshine,
In the first of years was gathered,
In the heat and pain of battle;
It will rust within my pouches,
Soon will wear away and perish,
If it be not used in trading."
Long the hunter, Lemminkainen,
Glided through the fen and forest,
Sang his songs throughout the woodlands,
Through three mountain glens be sang them,
Sang the forest hostess friendly,
Sang he, also, Tapio friendly,
Friendly, all the forest virgins,
All of Metsola's fair daughters.
Now they start the herds of Lempo,
Start the wild-moose from his shelter,
In the realms of evil Hisi,
Tapio's highest mountain-region;
Now they drive the ranger homeward,
To the open courts of Piru,
To the hero that is waiting,
Hunting for the moose of Juutas.
When the herd had reached the castle,
Lemminkainen threw his lasso
O'er the antlers of the blue-moose,
Settled on the neck and shoulders
Of the mighty moose of Hisi.
Then the hunter, Kaukomieli,
Stroked his captive's neck in safety,
For the moose was well-imprisoned.
Thereupon gay Lemminkainen
Filled with joyance spake as follows:
"Pride of forests, queen of woodlands,
Metsola's enchanted hostess,
Lovely forest dame, Mielikki,
Mother-donor of the mountains,
Take the gold that I have promised,
Come and take away the silver;
Spread thy kerchief well before me,
Spread out here thy silken neck-wrap,
Underneath the golden treasure,
Underneath the shining silver,
that to earth it may not settle,
Scattered on the snows of winter."
Then the hero went a victor
To the dwellings of Pohyola,
And addressed these words to Louhi:
"I have caught the moose of Hisi,
In the Metsola-dominions,
Give, O hostess, give thy daughter,
Give to me thy fairest virgin,
Bride of mine to be hereafter."
Louhi, hostess of the Northland,
Gave this answer to the suitor:
"I will give to thee my daughter,
For thy wife my fairest maiden,
When for me thou'lt put a bridle
On the flaming horse of Hisi,
Rapid messenger of Lempo,
On the Hisi-plains and pastures."
Nothing daunted, Lemminkainen
Hastened forward to accomplish
Louhi's second test of heroes,
On the cultivated lowlands,
On the sacred fields and forests.
Everywhere he sought the racer,
Sought the fire-expiring stallion,
Fire out-shooting from his nostrils.
Lemminkainen, fearless hunter,
Bearing in his belt his bridle,
On his shoulders, reins and halter,
Sought one day, and then a second,
Finally, upon the third day,
Went he to the Hisi-mountain,
Climbed, and struggled to the summit;
To the east he turned his glances,
Cast his eyes upon the sunrise,
There beheld the flaming courser,
On the heath among the far-trees.
Lempo's fire-expiring stallion
Fire and mingled smoke, out-shooting
From his mouth, and eyes, and nostrils.
Spake the daring Lemminkainen,
This the hero's supplication:
"Ukko, thou O God above me,
Thou that rulest all the storm-clouds,
Open thou the vault of heaven,
Open windows through the ether,
Let the icy rain come falling,
Lot the heavy hailstones shower
On the flaming horse of Hisi,
On the fire-expiring stallion."
Ukko, the benign Creator,
Heard the prayer of Lemminkainen,
Broke apart the dome of heaven,
Rent the heights of heaven asunder,
Sent the iron-hail in showers,
Smaller than the heads of horses,
Larger than the heads of heroes,
On the flaming steed of Lempo,
On the fire-expiring stallion,
On the terror of the Northland.
Lemminkainen, drawing nearer,
Looked with care upon the courser,
Then he spake the words that follow:
"Wonder-steed of mighty Hisi,
Flaming horse of Lempo's mountain,
Bring thy mouth of gold, assenting,
Gently place thy head of silver
In this bright and golden halter,
In this silver-mounted bridle.
I shall never harshly treat thee,
Never make thee fly too fleetly,
On the way to Sariola,
On the tracks of long duration,
To the hostess of Pohyola,
To her magic courts and stables,
Will not lash thee on thy journey;
I shall lead thee gently forward,
Drive thee with the reins of kindness,
Cover thee with silken blankets."
Then the fire-haired steed of Juutas,
Flaming horse of mighty Hisi,
Put his bead of shining silver,
In the bright and golden bead-stall,
In the silver-mounted bridle.
Thus the hero, Lemminkainen,
Easy bridles Lempo's stallion,
Flaming horse of evil Piru;
Lays the bits within his fire-mouth,
On his silver head, the halter,
Mounts the fire-expiring courser,
Brandishes his whip of willow,
Hastens forward on his journey,
Bounding o'er the hills and mountains,
Dashing through the valleys northward,
O'er the snow-capped hills of Lapland,
To the courts of Sariola.
Then the hero, quick dismounting,
Stepped within the court of Louhi,
Thus addressed the Northland hostess:
"I have bridled Lempo's fire-horse,
I have caught the Hisi-racer,
Caught the fire-expiring stallion,
In the Piru plains and pastures,
Ridden him within thy borders;
I have caught the moose of Lempo,
I have done what thou demandest;
Give, I pray thee, now thy daughter,
Give to me thy fairest maiden,
Bride of mine to be forever."
Louhi, hostess of Pohyola,
Made this answer to the suitor:
"I will only give my daughter,
Give to thee my fairest virgin,
Bride of thine to be forever,
When for me the swan thou killest
In the river of Tuoni,
Swimming in the black death-river,
In the sacred stream and whirlpool;
Thou canst try one cross-bow only,
But one arrow from thy quiver."
Then the reckless Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli,
Braved the third test of the hero,
Started out to hunt the wild-swan,
Hunt the long-necked, graceful swimmer,
In Tuoni's coal-black river,
In Manala's lower regions.
Quick the daring hunter journeyed,
Hastened off with fearless footsteps,
To the river of Tuoni,
To the sacred stream and whirlpool,
With his bow upon his shoulder,
With his quiver and one arrow.
Nasshut, blind and crippled shepherd,
Wretched shepherd of Pohyola,
Stood beside the death-land river,
Near the sacred stream and whirlpool,
Guarding Tuonela's waters,
Waiting there for Lemminkainen,
Listening there for Kaukomieli,
Waiting long the hero's coming.
Finally he hears the footsteps
Of the hero on his journey,
Hears the tread of Lemminkainen,
As he journeys nearer, nearer,
To the river of Tuoni,
To the cataract of death-land,
To the sacred stream and whirlpool.
Quick the wretched shepherd, Nasshut,
From the death-stream sends a serpent,
Like an arrow from a cross-bow,
To the heart of Lemminkainen,
Through the vitals of the hero.
Lemminkainen, little conscious,
Hardly knew that be was injured,
Spake these measures as he perished.
"Ah! unworthy is my conduct,
Ah! unwisely have I acted,
That I did not heed my mother,
Did not take her goodly counsel,
Did not learn her words of magic.
Oh I for three words with my mother,
How to live, and bow to suffer,
In this time of dire misfortune,
How to bear the stings of serpents,
Tortures of the reed of waters,
From the stream of Tuonela!
"Ancient mother who hast borne me,
Who hast trained me from my childhood,
Learn, I pray thee, where I linger,
Where alas! thy son is lying,
Where thy reckless hero suffers.
Come, I pray thee, faithful mother,
Come thou quickly, thou art needed,
Come deliver me from torture,
From the death-jaws of Tuoni,
From the sacred stream and whirlpool."
Northland's old and wretched shepherd,
Nasshut, the despised protector
Of the flocks of Sariola,
Throws the dying Lemminkainen,
Throws the hero of the islands,
Into Tuonela's river,
To the blackest stream of death-land,
To the worst of fatal whirlpools.
Lemminkainen, wild and daring,
Helpless falls upon the waters,
Floating down the coal-black current,
Through the cataract and rapids
To the tombs of Tuonela.
There the blood-stained son of death-land,
There Tuoni's son and hero,
Cuts in pieces Lemminkainen,
Chops him with his mighty hatchet,
Till the sharpened axe strikes flint-sparks
From the rocks within his chamber,
Chops the hero into fragments,
Into five unequal portions,
Throws each portion to Tuoni,
In Manala's lowest kingdom,
Speaks these words when he has ended:
"Swim thou there, wild Lemminkainen,
Flow thou onward in this river,
Hunt forever in these waters,
With thy cross-bow and thine arrow,
Shoot the swan within this empire,
Shoot our water-birds in welcome!"
Thus the hero, Lemminkainen,
Thus the handsome Kaukomieli,
The untiring suitor, dieth
In the river of Tuoni,
In the death-realm of Manala.