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

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



I HAVE brought young Kaukomieli,
Brought the Islander and hero,
Also known as Lemminkainen,
Through the jaws of death and ruin,
Through the darkling deeps of Kalma,
To the homesteads of Pohyola,
To the dismal courts of Louhi;
Now must I relate his doings,
Must relate to all my bearers,
How the merry Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli,
Wandered through Pohyola's chambers,
Through the halls of Sariola,
How the hero went unbidden
To the feasting and carousal,
Uninvited to the banquet.

Lemminkainen full of courage,
Full of life, and strength, and magic.
Stepped across the ancient threshold,
To the centre of the court-room,
And the floors of linwood trembled,
Walls and ceilings creaked and murmured.

Spake the reckless Lemminkainen,
These the words that Ahti uttered:
"Be ye greeted on my coming,
Ye that greet, be likewise greeted!
Listen, all ye hosts of Pohya;
Is there food about this homestead,
Barley for my hungry courser,
Beer to give a thirsty stranger?

Sat the host of Sariola
At the east end of the table,
Gave this answer to the questions:
"Surely is there in this homestead,
For thy steed an open stable,
Never will this host refuse thee,
Shouldst thou act a part becoming,
Worthy, coming to these portals,
Waiting near the birchen rafters,
In the spaces by the kettles,
By the triple hooks of iron."

Then the reckless Lemminkainen
Shook his sable locks and answered:
"Lempo may perchance come hither,
Let him fill this lowly station,
Let him stand between the kettles,
That with soot he may be blackened.
Never has my ancient father,
Never has the dear old hero,
Stood upon a spot unworthy,
At the portals near the rafters;
For his steed the best of stables,
Food and shelter gladly furnished,
And a room for his attendants,
Corners furnished for his mittens,
Hooks provided for his snow-shoes,
Halls in waiting for his helmet.
Wherefore then should I not find here
What my father found before me?"

To the centre walked the hero,
Walked around the dining table,
Sat upon a bench and waited,
On a bench of polished fir-wood,
And the kettle creaked beneath him.
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
"As a guest am I unwelcome,
Since the waiters bring no viands,
Bring no dishes to the stranger?"

Ilpotar, the Northland hostess,
Then addressed the words that follow:
"Lemminkainen, thou art evil,
Thou art here, but not invited,
Thou hast not the look of kindness,
Thou wilt give me throbbing temples,
Thou art bringing pain and sorrow.
All our beer is in the barley,
All the malt is in the kernel,
All our grain is still ungarnered,
And our dinner has been eaten;
Yesterday thou shouldst have been here,
Come again some future season."

Whereupon wild Lemminkainen
Pulled his mouth awry in anger,
Shook his coal-black locks and answered:
"All the tables here are empty,
And the feasting-time is over;
All the beer has left the goblets,
Empty too are all the pitchers,
Empty are the larger vessels.
O thou hostess of Pohyola,
Toothless dame of dismal Northland,
Badly managed is thy wedding,
And thy feast is ill-conducted,
Like the dogs hast thou invited;
Thou hast baked the honey-biscuit,
Wheaten loaves of greatest virtue,
Brewed thy beer from hops and barley,
Sent abroad thine invitations,
Six the hamlets thou hast honored,
Nine the villages invited
By thy merry wedding-callers.
Thou hast asked the poor and lowly,
Asked the hosts of common people,
Asked the blind, and deaf, and crippled,
Asked a multitude of beggars,
Toilers by the day, and hirelings;
Asked the men of evil habits,
Asked the maids with braided tresses,
I alone was not invited.
How could such a slight be given,
Since I sent thee kegs of barley?
Others sent thee grain in cupfuls,
Brought it sparingly in dippers,
While I sent thee fullest measure,
Sent the half of all my garners,
Of the richest of my harvest,
Of the grain that I had gathered.
Even now young Lemminkainen,
Though a guest of name and station
Has no beer, no food, no welcome,
Naught for him art thou preparing,
Nothing cooking in thy kettles,
Nothing brewing in thy cellars
For the hero of the Islands,
At the closing of his journey."

Ilpotar, the ancient hostess,
Gave this order to her servants:
"Come, my pretty maiden-waiter,
Servant-girl to me belonging,
Lay some salmon to the broiling,
Bring some beer to give the stranger!"

Small of stature was the maiden,
Washer of the banquet-platters,
Rinser of the dinner-ladles,
Polisher of spoons of silver,
And she laid some food in kettles,
Only bones and beads of whiting,
Turnip-stalks and withered cabbage,
Crusts of bread and bits of biscuit.
Then she brought some beer in pitchers,
Brought of common drink the vilest,
That the stranger, Lemminkainen,
Might have drink, and meat in welcome,
Thus to still his thirst and hunger.
Then the maiden spake as follows:
"Thou art sure a mighty hero,
Here to drink the beer of Pohya,
Here to empty all our vessels!"

Then the minstrel, Lemminkainen,
Closely handled all the pitchers,
Looking to the very bottoms;
There beheld he writhing serpents,
In the centre adders swimming,
On the borders worms and lizards.
Then the hero, Lemminkainen,
Filled with anger, spake as follows:
Get ye hence, ye things of evil,
Get ye hence to Tuonela,
With the bearer of these pitchers,
With the maid that brought ye hither,
Ere the evening moon has risen,
Ere the day-star seeks the ocean!
0 thou wretched beer of barley,
Thou hast met with great dishonor,
Into disrepute hast fallen,
But I'll drink thee, notwithstanding,
And the rubbish cast far from me."

Then the hero to his pockets
Thrust his first and unnamed finger,
Searching in his pouch of leather;
Quick withdraws a hook for fishing,
Drops it to the pitcher's bottom,
Through the worthless beer of barley;
On his fish-book hang the serpents,
Catches many hissing adders,
Catches frogs in magic numbers,
Catches blackened worms in thousands,
Casts them to the floor before him,
Quickly draws his heavy broad sword,
And decapitates the serpents.

Now he drinks the beer remaining,
When the wizard speaks as follows:
"As a guest am I unwelcome,
Since no beer to me is given
That is worthy of a hero;
Neither has a ram been butchered,
Nor a fattened calf been slaughtered,
Worthy food for Lemminkainen."

Then the landlord of Pohyola
Answered thus the Island-minstrel:
"Wherefore hast thou journeyed hither,
Who has asked thee for thy presence?
Spake in answer Lemminkainen:
"Happy is the guest invited,
Happier when not expected;
Listen, son of Pohylander,
Host of Sariola, listen:
Give me beer for ready payment,
Give me worthy drink for money!"

Then the landlord of Pohyola,
In bad humor, full of anger,
Conjured in the earth a lakelet,
At the feet of Kaukomieli,
Thus addressed the Island-hero:
"Quench thy thirst from yonder lakelet,
There, the beer that thou deservest!"

Little heeding, Lemminkainen
To this insolence made answer:
"I am neither bear nor roebuck,
That should drink this filthy water,
Drink the water of this lakelet."

Ahti then began to conjure,
Conjured he a bull before him,
Bull with horns of gold and silver,
And the bull drank from the lakelet,
Drank he from the pool in pleasure.
Then the landlord of Pohyola
There a savage wolf created,
Set him on the floor before him
To destroy the bull of magic,
Lemminkainen, full of courage,
Conjured up a snow-white rabbit,
Set him on the floor before him
To attract the wolf's attention.
Then the landlord of Pohyola
Conjured there a dog of Lempo,
Set him on the floor before him
To destroy the magic rabbit.
Lemminkainen, full of mischief,
Conjured on the roof a squirrel,
That by jumping on the rafters
He might catch the dog's attention.
But the master of the Northland
Conjured there a golden marten,
And he drove the magic squirrel
From his seat upon the rafters.
Lemminkainen, full of mischief,
Made a fox of scarlet color,
And it ate the golden marten.
Then the master of Pohyola
Conjured there a hen to flutter
Near the fox of scarlet color.
Lemminkainen, full of mischief,
Thereupon a hawk created,
That with beak and crooked talons
He might tear the hen to pieces.

Spake the landlord of Pohyola,
These the words the tall man uttered:
"Never will this feast be bettered
Till the guests are less in number;
I must do my work as landlord,
Get thee hence, thou evil stranger,
Cease thy conjurings of evil,
Leave this banquet of my people,
Haste away, thou wicked wizard,
To thine Island-home and people!
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
"Thus no hero will be driven,
Not a son of any courage
Will be frightened by thy presence,
Will be driven from thy banquet."

Then the landlord of Pohyola
Snatched his broadsword from the rafters,
Drew it rashly from the scabbard,
Thus addressing Lemminkainen:
"Ahti, Islander of evil,
Thou the handsome Kaukomieli,
Let us measure then our broadswords,
Let our skill be fully tested;
Surely is my broadsword better
Than the blade within thy scabbard."
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen.
"That my blade is good and trusty,
Has been proved on heads of heroes,
Has on many bones been tested;
Be that as it may, my fellow,
Since thine order is commanding,
Let our swords be fully tested,
Let us see whose blade is better.
Long ago my hero-father
Tested well this sword in battle,
Never failing in a conflict.
Should his son be found less worthy?"

Then he grasped his mighty broadsword,
Drew the fire-blade from the scabbard
Hanging from his belt of copper.
Standing on their hilts their broadswords,
Carefully their blades were measured,
Found the sword of Northland's master
Longer than the sword of Ahti
By the half-link of a finger.
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen.
"Since thou hast the longer broadsword,
Thou shalt make the first advances,
I am ready for thy weapon."

Thereupon Pohyola's landlord
With the wondrous strength of anger,
Tried in vain to slay the hero,
Strike the crown of Lemminkainen;
Chipped the splinters from the rafters,
Cut the ceiling into fragments,
Could not touch the Island-hero.

Thereupon brave Kaukomieli,
Thus addressed Pohyola's master:
"Have the rafters thee offended?
What the crimes they have committed,
Since thou hewest them in pieces?
Listen now, thou host of Northland,
Reckless landlord of Pohyola,
Little room there is for swordsmen
In these chambers filled with women;
We shall stain these painted rafters,
Stain with blood these floors and ceilings;
Let us go without the mansion,
In the field is room for combat,
On the plain is space sufficient;
Blood looks fairer in the court-yard,
Better in the open spaces,
Let it dye the snow-fields scarlet."

To the yard the heroes hasten,
There they find a monstrous ox-skin,
Spread it on the field of battle;
On the ox-skin stand the swordsmen.
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
"Listen well, thou host of Northland,
Though thy broadsword is the longer,
Though thy blade is full of horror,
Thou shalt have the first advantage;
Use with skill thy boasted broadsword
Ere the final bout is given,
Ere thy head be chopped in pieces;
Strike with skill, or thou wilt perish,
Strike, and do thy best for Northland."

Thereupon Pohyola's landlord
Raised on high his blade of battle,
Struck a heavy blow in anger,
Struck a second, then a third time,
But he could not touch his rival,
Could Dot draw a single blood-drop
From the veins of Lemminkainen,
Skillful Islander and hero.
Spake the handsome Kaukomieli:
"Let me try my skill at fencing,
Let me swing my father's broadsword,
Let my honored blade be tested!"
But the landlord of Pohyola,
Does not heed the words of Ahti,
Strikes in fury, strikes unceasing,
Ever aiming, ever missing.
When the skillful Lemminkainen
Swings his mighty blade of magic,
Fire disports along his weapon,
Flashes from his sword of honor,
Glistens from the hero's broadsword,
Balls of fire disporting, dancing,
On the blade of mighty Ahti,
Overflow upon the shoulders
Of the landlord of Pohyola.
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
"O thou son of Sariola,
See! indeed thy neck is glowing
Like the dawning of the morning,
Like the rising Sun in ocean!"

Quickly turned Pohyola's landlord,
Thoughtless host of darksome Northland,
To behold the fiery splendor
Playing on his neck and shoulders.
Quick as lightning, Lemminkainen,
With his father's blade of battle,
With a single blow of broadsword,
With united skill and power,
Lopped the head of Pohya's master;
As one cleaves the stalks of turnips,
As the ear falls from the corn-stalk,
As one strikes the fins from salmon,
Thus the head rolled from the shoulders
Of the landlord of Pohyola,
Like a ball it rolled and circled.

In the yard were pickets standing,
Hundreds were the sharpened pillars,
And a head on every picket,
Only one was left un-headed.
Quick the victor, Lemminkainen,
Took the head of Pohya's landlord,
Spiked it on the empty picket.

Then the Islander, rejoicing,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli,
Quick returning to the chambers,
Crave this order to the hostess:
"Evil maiden, bring me water,
Wherewithal to cleanse my fingers
From the blood of Northland's master,
Wicked host of Sariola."

Ilpotar, the Northland hostess,
Fired with anger, threatened vengeance,
Conjured men with heavy broadswords,
Heroes clad in copper-armor,
Hundred warriors with their javelins,
And a thousand bearing cross-bows,
To destroy the Island-hero,
For the death of Lemminkainen.
Kaukomieli soon discovered
That the time had come for leaving,
That his presence was unwelcome
At the feasting of Pohyola,
At the banquet of her people.

Next: Rune XXVIII. The Mother's Counsel