Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index 
Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Kalevala, by John Martin Crawford, [1888], at



LEMMINKAINEN'S aged mother
Anxious roams about the islands,
Anxious wonders in her chambers,
What the fate of Lemminkainen,
Why her son so long has tarried;
Thinks that something ill has happened
To her hero in Pohyola.
Sad, indeed, the mother's anguish,
As in vain she waits his coming,
As in vain she asks the question,
Where her daring son is roaming,
Whether to the fir-tree mountain,
Whether to the distant heath-land,
Or upon the broad-sea's ridges,
On the floods and rolling waters,
To the war's contending armies,
To the heat and din of battle,
Steeped in blood of valiant heroes,
Evidence of fatal warfare.

Daily does the wife Kyllikki
Look about her vacant chamber,
In the home of Lemminkainen,
At the court of Kaukomieli;
Looks at evening, looks at morning,
Looks, perchance, upon his hair-brush,
Sees alas! the blood-drops oozing,
Oozing from the golden bristles,
And the blood-drops, scarlet-colored.

Then the beauteous wife, Kyllikki,
Spake these words in deeps of anguish:
"Dead or wounded is my husband,
Or at best is filled with trouble,
Lost perhaps in Northland forests,
In some glen unknown to heroes,
Since alas! the blood is flowing
From the brush of Lemminkainen,
Red drops oozing from the bristles."

Thereupon the anxious mother
Looks upon the bleeding hair-brush
And begins this wail of anguish:
"Woe is me, my life hard-fated,
Woe is me, all joy departed!
For alas! my son and hero,
Valiant hero of the islands,
Son of trouble and misfortune!
Some sad fate has overtaken
My ill-fated Lemminkainen!
Blood is flowing from his hair-brush,
Oozing from its golden bristles,
And the drops are scarlet-colored."

Quick her garment's hem she clutches,
On her arm she throws her long-robes,
Fleetly flies upon her journey;
With her might she hastens northward,
Mountains tremble from her footsteps,
Valleys rise and heights are lowered,
Highlands soon become as lowlands,
All the hills and valleys levelled.
Soon she gains the Northland village,
Quickly asks about her hero,
These the words the mother utters:
"O thou hostess of Pohyola,
Where hast thou my Lemminkainen?
Tell me of my son and hero!"

Louhi, hostess of the Northland,
Gives this answer to the mother:
"Nothing know I of thy hero,
Of the hero of the islands;
Where thy son may be I know not,
Cannot lend the information;
Once I gave thy son a courser,
Hitched the racer to his snow-sledge,
This the last of Lemminkainen;
May perchance be drowned in Wuhne,
Frozen In the icy ocean,
Fallen prey to wolves in hunger,
In a bear's den may have perished."
Lemminkainen's mother answers:
"Thou art only speaking falsehoods,
Northland wolves cannot devour us,
Nor the bears kill Kaukomieli;
He can slay the wolves of Pohya
With the fingers of his left hand;
Bears of Northland he would silence
With the magic of his singing.

"Hostess of Pohyola, tell me
Whither thou hast sent my hero;
I shall burst thy many garners,
Shall destroy the magic Sampo,
If thou dost not tell me truly
Where to find my Lemminkainen."
Spake the hostess of Pohyola:
"I have well thy hero treated,
Well my court has entertained him,
Gave him of my rarest viands,
Fed him at my well-filled tables,
Placed him in a boat of copper,
Thus to float adown the current,
This the last of Lemminkainen;
Cannot tell where he has wandered.
Whether in the foam of waters,
Whether in the boiling torrent,
Whether in the drowning whirlpool."

Lemminkainen's mother answers:
Thou again art speaking falsely;
Tell me now the truth I pray thee,
Make an end of thy deception,
Where is now my Lemminkainen,
Whither hast thou sent my hero,
Young and daring son of Kalew?
If a third time thou deceivest,
I will send thee plagues, unnumbered,
I will send thee fell destruction,
Certain death will overtake thee."
Spake the hostess of Pohyola:
"This the third time that I answer,
This the truth that I shall tell thee:
I have sent the Kalew-hero
To the Hisi-fields and forests,
There to hunt the moose of Lempo;
Sent him then to catch the fire-horse,
Catch the fire-expiring stallion,
On the distant plains of Juutas,
In the realm of cruel Hisi.
Then I sent him to the Death-stream,
In the kingdom of Tuoni,
With his bow and but one arrow,
There to shoot the swan as dowry
For my best and fairest daughter;
Have not heard about thy hero
Since he left for Tuonela;
May in misery have fallen,
May have perished in Manala;
Has not come to ask my daughter,
Has not come to woo the maiden,
Since he left to hunt the death-swan."

Now the mother seeks her lost one,
For her son she weeps and trembles,
Like the wolf she bounds through fenlands,
Like the bear, through forest thickets,
Like the wild-boar, through the marshes,
Like the hare, along the sea-coast,
To the sea-point, like the hedgehog
Like the wild-duck swims the waters,
Casts the rubbish from her pathway,
Tramples down opposing brush-wood,
Stops at nothing in her journey
Seeks a long time for her hero,
Seeks, and seeks, and does not find him.

Now she asks the trees the question,
And the forest gives this answer:
"We have care enough already,
Cannot think about thy matters;
Cruel fates have we to battle,
Pitiful our own misfortunes!
We are felled and chopped in pieces,
Cut in blocks for hero-fancy,
We are burned to death as fuel,
No one cares how much we suffer."

Now again the mother wanders,
Seeks again her long-lost hero,
Seeks, and seeks, and does not find him.
Paths arise and come to meet her,
And she questions thus the pathways:
"Paths of hope that God has fashioned,
Have ye seen my Lemminkainen,
Has my son and golden hero
Travelled through thy many kingdoms?"
Sad, the many pathways answer:
"We ourselves have cares sufficient,
Cannot watch thy son and hero,
Wretched are the lives of pathways,
Deep indeed our own misfortunes;
We are trodden by, the red-deer,
By the wolves, and bears, and roebucks,
Driven o'er by heavy cart-wheels,
By the feet of dogs are trodden,
Trodden under foot of heroes,
Foot-paths for contending armies."

Seeks again the frantic mother,
Seeks her long-lost son and hero,
Seeks, and seeks, and does not find him;
Finds the Moon within her orbit,
Asks the Moon in pleading measures:
"Golden Moon, whom God has stationed
In the heavens, the Sun's companion,
Hast thou seen my Kaukomieli,
Hast thou seen my silver apple,
Anywhere in thy dominions? "
Thus the golden Moon makes answer:
"I have trouble all-sufficient,
Cannot watch thy daring hero;
Long the journey I must travel,
Sad the fate to me befallen,
Pitiful mine own misfortunes,
All alone the nights to wander,
Shine alone without a respite,
In the winter ever watching,
In the summer sink and perish."

Still the mother seeks, and wanders,
Seeks, and does not find her hero,
Sees the Sun in the horizon,
And the mother thus entreats him:
Silver Sun, whom God has fashioned,
Thou that giveth warmth and comfort,
Hast thou lately seen my hero,
Hast thou seen my Lemminkainen,
Wandering in thy dominions?"
Thus the Sun in kindness answers:
"Surely has thy hero perished,
To ingratitude a victim;
Lemminkainen died and vanished
In Tuoni's fatal river,
In the waters of Manala,
In the sacred stream and whirlpool,
In the cataract and rapids,
Sank within the drowning current
To the realm of Tuonela,
To Manala's lower regions."

Lemminkainen's mother weeping,
Wailing in the deeps of anguish,
Mourns the fate of Kaukomieli,
Hastens to the Northland smithy,
To the forge of Ilmarinen,
These the words the mother utters:
"Ilmarinen, metal-artist,
Thou that long ago wert forging,
Forging earth a concave cover,
Yesterday wert forging wonders,
Forge thou now, immortal blacksmith,
Forge a rake with shaft of copper,
Forge the teeth of strongest metal,
Teeth in length a hundred fathoms,
And five hundred long the handle."

Ilmarinen does as bidden,
Makes the rake in full perfection.
Lemminkainen's anxious mother
Takes the magic rake and hastens
To the river of Tuoni,
Praying to the Sun as follows:
"Thou, O Sun, by God created,
Thou that shinest on thy Maker,
Shine for me in heat of magic,
Give me warmth, and strength, and courage,
Shine a third time full of power,
Lull to sleep the wicked people,
Still the people of Manala,
Quiet all Tuoni's empire."

Thereupon the sun of Ukko,
Dearest child of the Creator,
Flying through the groves of Northland,
Sitting on a curving birch-tree,
Shines a little while in ardor,
Shines again in greater fervor,
Shines a third time full of power,
Lulls to sleep the wicked people
In the Manala home and kingdom,
Still the heroes with their broadswords,
Makes the lancers halt and totter,
Stills the stoutest of the spearmen,
Quiets Tuoni's ghastly empire.
Now the Sun retires in magic,
Hovers here and there a moment
Over Tuoni's hapless sleepers,
Hastens upward to his station,
To his Jumala home and kingdom.

Lemminkainen's faithful mother
Takes the rake of magic metals,
Rakes the Tuoni river bottoms,
Rakes the cataract and whirlpool,
Rakes the swift and boiling current
Of the sacred stream of death-land,
In the Manala home and kingdom.
Searching for her long-lost hero,
Rakes a long time, finding nothing;
Now she wades the river deeper,
To her belt in mud and water,
Deeper, deeper, rakes the death-stream,
Rakes the river's deepest caverns,
Raking up and down the current,
Till at last she finds his tunic,
Heavy-hearted, finds his jacket;
Rakes again and rakes unceasing,
Finds the hero's shoes and stockings,
Sorely troubled, finds these relies;
Now she wades the river deeper,
Rakes the Manala shoals and shallows,
Rakes the deeps at every angle;
As she draws the rake the third time
From the Tuoni shores and waters,
In the rake she finds the body
Of her long-lost Lemminkainen,
In the metal teeth entangled,
In the rake with copper handle.

Thus the reckless Lemminkainen,
Thus the son of Kalevala,
Was recovered from the bottom
Of the Manala lake and river.
There were wanting many fragments,
Half the head, a hand, a fore-arm,
Many other smaller portions,
Life, above all else, was missing.
Then the mother, well reflecting,
Spake these words in bitter weeping:
"From these fragments, with my magic,
I will bring to life my hero."

Hearing this, the raven answered,
Spake these measures to the mother:
"There is not in these a hero,
Thou canst not revive these fragments;
Eels have fed upon his body,
On his eyes have fed the whiting;
Cast the dead upon the waters,
On the streams of Tuonela,
Let him there become a walrus,
Or a seal, or whale, or porpoise."

Lemminkainen's mother does not
Cast the dead upon the waters,
On the streams of Tuonela,
She again with hope and courage,
Rakes the river lengthwise, crosswise,
Through the Manala pools and caverns,
Rakes up half the head, a fore-arm,
Finds a hand and half the back-bone,
Many other smaller portions;
Shapes her son from all the fragments,
Shapes anew her Lemminkainen,
Flesh to flesh with skill she places,
Gives the bones their proper stations,
Binds one member to the other,
Joins the ends of severed vessels,
Counts the threads of all the venules,
Knits the parts in apposition;
Then this prayer the mother offers:

"Suonetar, thou slender virgin,
Goddess of the veins of heroes,
Skilful spinner of the vessels,
With thy slender, silver spindle,
With thy spinning-wheel of copper,
Set in frame of molten silver,
Come thou hither, thou art needed;
Bring the instruments for mending,
Firmly knit the veins together,
At the end join well the venules,
In the wounds that still are open,
In the members that are injured.

"Should this aid be inefficient;
There is living in the ether,
In a boat enriched with silver,
In a copper boat, a maiden,
That can bring to thee assistance.
Come, O maiden, from the ether,
Virgin from the belt of heaven,
Row throughout these veins, O maiden,
Row through all these lifeless members,
Through the channels of the long-bones,
Row through every form of tissue.
Set the vessels in their places,
Lay the heart in right position,
Make the pulses beat together,
Join the smallest of the veinlets,
And unite with skill the sinews.
Take thou now a slender needle,
Silken thread within its eyelet,
Ply the silver needle gently,
Sew with care the wounds together.

"Should this aid be inefficient,
Thou, O God, that knowest all things,
Come and give us thine assistance,
Harness thou thy fleetest racer
Call to aid thy strongest courser,
In thy scarlet sledge come swiftly,
Drive through all the bones and channels,
Drive throughout these lifeless tissues,
Drive thy courser through each vessel,
Bind the flesh and bones securely,
In the joints put finest silver,
Purest gold in all the fissures.

"Where the skin is broken open,
Where the veins are torn asunder,
Mend these injuries with magic;
Where the blood has left the body,
There make new blood flow abundant;
Where the bones are rudely broken,
Set the parts in full perfection;
Where the flesh is bruised and loosened,
Touch the wounds with magic balsam,
Do not leave a part imperfect;
Bone, and vein, and nerve, and sinew,
Heart, and brain, and gland, and vessel,
Heal as Thou alone canst heal them."

These the means the mother uses,
Thus she joins the lifeless members,
Thus she heals the death-like tissues,
Thus restores her son and hero
To his former life and likeness;
All his veins are knit together,
All their ends are firmly fastened,
All the parts in apposition,
Life returns, but speech is wanting,
Deaf and dumb, and blind, and senseless.
Now the mother speaks as follows:
"Where may I procure the balsam,
Where the drops of magic honey,
To anoint my son and hero,
Thus to heal my Lemminkainen,
That again his month may open,
May again begin his singing,
Speak again in words of wonder,
Sing again his incantations?

"Tiny bee, thou honey-birdling,
Lord of all the forest flowers,
Fly away and gather honey,
Bring to me the forest-sweetness,
Found in Metsola's rich gardens,
And in Tapio's fragrant meadows,
From the petals of the flowers,
From the blooming herbs and grasses,
Thus to heal my hero's anguish,
Thus to heal his wounds of evil."

Thereupon the honey-birdling
Flies away on wings of swiftness,
Into Metsola's rich gardens,
Into Tapio's flowery meadows,
Gathers sweetness from the meadows,
With the tongue distills the honey
From the cups of seven flowers,
From the bloom of countless grasses;
Quick from Metsola returning,
Flying, humming darting onward,
With his winglets honey-laden,
With the store of sweetest odors,
To the mother brings the balsam.
Lemminkainen's anxious mother
Takes the balm of magic virtues,
And anoints the injured hero,
Heals his wounds and stills his anguish;
But the balm is inefficient,
For her son is deaf and speechless.

Then again out-speaks the mother:
Lemminkainen's Restoration.
"Little bee, my honey-birdling,
Fly away in one direction,
Fly across the seven oceans,
In the eighth, a magic island,
Where the honey is enchanted,
To the distant Turi-castles,
To the chambers of Palwoinen;
There the honey is effective,
There, the wonder-working balsam,
This may heal the wounded hero;
Bring me of this magic ointment,
That I may anoint his eyelids,
May restore his injured senses."

Thereupon the honey-birdling
Flew away o'er seven oceans,
To the old enchanted island;
Flies one day, and then a second,
On the verdure does not settle,
Does not rest upon the flowers;
Flies a third day, fleetly onward,
Till a third day evening brings him
To the island in the ocean,
To the meadows rich in honey,
To the cataract and fire-flow,
To the sacred stream and whirlpool.

There the honey was preparing,
There the magic balm distilling
In the tiny earthen vessels,
In the burnished copper kettles,
Smaller than a maiden's thimble,
Smaller than the tips of fingers.
Faithfully the busy insect
Gathers the enchanted honey
From the magic Turi-cuplets
In the chambers of Palwoinen.

Time had gone but little distance,
Ere the bee came loudly humming
Flying fleetly, honey-laden;
In his arms were seven vessels,
Seven, the vessels on each shoulder;
All were filled with honey-balsam,
With the balm of magic virtues.

Lemminkainen's tireless mother
Quick anoints her speechless hero,
With the magic Turi-balsam,
With the balm of seven virtues;
Nine the times that she anoints him
With the honey of Palwoinen,
With the wonder-working balsam;
But the balm is inefficient,
For the hero still is speechless.
Then again out-speaks the mother:
"Honey-bee, thou ether birdling,
Fly a third time on thy journey,
Fly away to high Jumala,
Fly thou to the seventh heaven,
Honey there thou'lt find abundant,
Balsam of the highest virtue,
Only used by the Creator,
Only made from the breath of Ukko.
God anoints his faithful children,
With the honey of his wisdom,
When they feel the pangs of sorrow,
When they meet the powers of evil.
Dip thy winglets in this honey,
Steep thy plumage in His sweetness,
Hither bring the all-sufficient
Balsam of the great Creator;
This will still my hero's anguish,
This will heal his wounded tissues,
This restore his long-lost vision,
Make the Northland hills re-echo
With the magic of his singing,
With his wonderful enchantment."
Thus the honey-bee made answer:
"I can never fly to heaven,
To the seventh of the heavens,
To the distant home of Ukko,
With these wings of little virtue."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"Thou canst surely fly to heaven,
To the seventh of the heavens,
O'er the Moon, beneath the sunshine,
Through the dim and distant starlight.
On the first day, flying upward,
Thou wilt near the Moon in heaven,
Fan the brow of Kootamoinen;
On the second thou canst rest thee
On the shoulders of Otava;
On the third day, flying higher,
Rest upon the seven starlets,
On the heads of Hetewanè;
Short the journey that is left thee,
Inconsiderable the distance
To the home of mighty Ukko,
To the dwellings of the blessed."

Thereupon the bee arising,
From the earth flies swiftly upward,
Hastens on with graceful motion,
By his tiny wings borne heavenward,
In the paths of golden moonbeams,
Touches on the Moon's bright borders,
Fans the brow of Kootamoinen,
Rests upon Otava's shoulders,
Hastens to the seven starlets.,
To the heads of Hetewanè,
Flies to the Creator's castle,
To the home of generous Ukko,
Finds the remedy preparing,
Finds the balm of life distilling,
In the silver-tinted caldrons,
In the purest golden kettles;
On one side, heart-easing honey,
On a second, balm of joyance,
On the third, life-giving balsam.
Here the magic bee, selecting,
Culls the sweet, life-giving balsam,
Gathers too, heart-easing honey,
Heavy-laden hastens homeward.

Time had traveled little distance,
Ere the busy bee came humming
To the anxious mother waiting,
In his arms a hundred cuplets,
And a thousand other vessels,
Filled with honey, filled with balsam,
Filled with the balm of the Creator.

Lemminkainen's mother quickly
Takes them on her, tongue and tests them,
Finds a balsam all-sufficient.
Then the mother spake as follows:
"I have found the long-sought balsam,
Found the remedy of Ukko,
Where-with God anoints his people,
Gives them life, and faith, and wisdom,
Heals their wounds and stills their anguish,
Makes them strong against temptation,
Guards them from the evil-doers."

Now the mother well anointing,
Heals her son, the magic singer,
Eyes, and ears, and tongue, and temples,
Breaks, and cuts, and seams, anointing,
Touching well the life-blood centres,
Speaks these words of magic import
To the sleeping Lemminkainen:
"Wake, arise from out thy slumber,
From the worst of low conditions,
From thy state of dire misfortune!"

Slowly wakes the son and hero,
Rises from the depths of slumber,
Speaks again in magic accents,
These the first words of the singer:
"Long, indeed, have I been sleeping,
Long unconscious of existence,
But my sleep was full of sweetness,
Sweet the sleep in Tuonela,
Knowing neither joy nor sorrow!"
This the answer of his mother:
"Longer still thou wouldst have slumbered,
Were it not for me, thy, mother;
Tell me now, my son beloved,
Tell me that I well may hear thee,
Who enticed thee to Manala,
To the river of Tuoni,
To the fatal stream and whirlpool?"

Then the hero, Lemminkainen,
Gave this answer to his mother:
"Nasshut, the decrepit shepherd
Of the flocks of Sariola,
Blind, and halt, and poor, and wretched,
And to whom I did a favor;
From the slumber-land of envy
Nasshut sent me to Manala,
To the river of Tuoni;
Sent a serpent from the waters,
Sent an adder from the death-stream,
Through the heart of Lemminkainen;
Did not recognize the serpent,
Could not speak the serpent-language,
Did not know the sting of adders."
Spake again the ancient mother:
"O thou son of little insight,
Senseless hero, fool-magician,
Thou didst boast betimes thy magic
To enchant the wise enchanters,
On the dismal shores of Lapland,
Thou didst think to banish heroes,
From the borders of Pohyola;
Didst not know the sting of serpents,
Didst not know the reed of waters,
Nor the magic word-protector!
Learn the origin of serpents,
Whence the poison of the adder.

"In the floods was born the serpent,
From the marrow of the gray-duck,
From the brain of ocean-swallows;
Suoyatar had made saliva,
Cast it on the waves of ocean,
Currents drove it outward, onward,
Softly shone the sun upon it,
By the winds 'twas gently cradled,
Gently nursed by winds and waters,
By the waves was driven shoreward,
Landed by the surging billows.
Thus the serpent, thing of evil,
Filling all the world with trouble,
Was created in the waters
Born from Suoyatar, its maker."

Then the mother of the hero
Rocked her son to rest and comfort,
Rocked him to his former being,
To his former life and spirit,
Into greater magic powers;
Wiser, handsomer than ever
Grew the hero of the islands;
But his heart was full of trouble,
And his mother, ever watchful,
Asked the cause of his dejection.
This is Lemminkainen's answer:
"This the cause of all my sorrow;
Far away my heart is roaming,
All my thoughts forever wander
To the Northland's blooming virgins,
To the maids of braided tresses.
Northland's ugly hostess, Louhi,
Will not give to me her daughter,
Fairest maiden of Pohyola,
Till I kill the swan of Mana,
With my bow and but one arrow,
In the river of Tuoni.
Lemminkainen's mother answers,
In the sacred stream and whirlpool.
"Let the swan swim on in safety,
Give the water-bird his freedom,
In the river of Manala,
In the whirlpool of Tuoni;
Leave the maiden in the Northland.,
With her charms and fading beauty;
With thy fond and faithful mother,
Go at once to Kalevala,
To thy native fields and fallows.
Praise thy fortune, all sufficient,
Praise, above all else, thy Maker.
Ukko gave thee aid when needed,
Thou wert saved by thy Creator,
From thy long and hopeless slumber,
In the waters of Tuoni,
In the chambers of Manala.
I unaided could not save thee,
Could not give the least assistance;
God alone, omniscient Ukko,
First and last of the creators,
Can revive the dead and dying,
Can protect his worthy people
From the waters of Manala, .
From the fatal stream and whirlpool,
In the kingdom of Tuoni."

Lemminkainen, filled with wisdom,
With his fond and faithful mother,
Hastened straightway on his journey
To his distant home and kindred,
To the Wainola fields and meadows,
To the plains of Kalevala.

    *    *    *    *    *

Here I leave my Kaukomieli,
Leave my hero Lemminkainen,
Long I leave him from my singing,
Turn my song to other heroes,
Send it forth on other pathways,
Sing some other golden legend.

Next: Rune XVI. Wainamoinen's Boat-building.