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



AHTI, hero of the Islands,
Wild magician, Lemminkainen,
Also known as Kaukomieli,
Hastened from the great carousal,
From the banquet-halls of Louhi,
From the ever-darksome Northland,
From the dismal Sariola.
Stormful strode he from the mansion,
Hastened like the smoke of battle,
From the court-yard of Pohyola,
Left his crimes and misdemeanors
In the halls of ancient Louhi.
Then he looked in all directions,
Seeking for his tethered courser,
Anxious looked in field and stable,
But he did not find his racer;
Found a black thing in the fallow,
Proved to be a clump of willows.
Who will well advise the hero,
Who will give him wise directions,
Guide the wizard out of trouble,
Give his hero-locks protection,
Keep his magic head from danger
From the warriors of Northland?

Noise is beard within the village,
And a din from other homesteads,
From the battle-hosts of Louhi,
Streaming from the doors and window,
Of the homesteads of Pohyola.

Thereupon young Lemminkainen,
Handsome Islander and hero,
Changing both his form and features,
Clad himself in other raiment,
Changing to another body,
Quick became a mighty eagle,
Soared aloft on wings of magic,
Tried to fly to highest heaven,
But the moonlight burned his temples,
And the sunshine singed his feathers.

Then entreating, Lemminkainen,
Island-hero, turned to Ukko,
This the prayer that Ahti uttered:
"Ukko, God of love and mercy,
Thou the Wisdom of the heavens,
Wise Director of the lightning,
Thou the Author of the thunder,
Thou the Guide of all the cloudlets,
Give to me thy cloak of vapor,
Throw a silver cloud around me,
That I may in its protection
Hasten to my native country,
To my mother's Island-dwelling,
Fly to her that waits my coming,
With a mother's grave forebodings."

Farther, farther, Lemminkainen
Flew and soared on eagle-pinions,
Looked about him, backwards, forwards,
Spied a gray-hawk soaring near him,
In his eyes the fire of splendor,
Like the eyes of Pohyalanders,
Like the eyes of Pohya's spearmen,
And the gray-hawk thus addressed him:
"Ho! There! hero, Lemminkainen,
Art thou thinking of our combat
With the, hero-heads of Northland?"

Thus the Islander made answer,
These the words of Kaukomieli:
"O thou gray-hawk, bird of beauty,
Fly direct to Sariola,
Fly as fast as wings can bear thee;
When thou hast arrived in safety,
On the plains of darksome Northland,
Tell the archers and the spearmen,
They will never catch the eagle,
In his journey from Pohyola,
To his Island-borne and fortress."

Then the Ahti-eagle hastened
Straightway to his mother's cottage,
In his face the look of trouble,
In his heart the pangs of sorrow.
Ahti's mother ran to meet him,
When she spied him in the pathway,
Walking toward her island-dwelling;
These the words the mother uttered:
"Of my sons thou art the bravest,
Art the strongest of my children;
Wherefore then comes thine annoyance,
On returning from Pohyola?
Wert thou worsted at the banquet,
At the feast and great carousal?
At thy cups, if thou wert injured,
Thou shalt here have better treatment
Thou shalt have the cup thy father
Brought me from the hero-castle."
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
"Worthy mother, thou that nursed me,
If I had been maimed at drinking,
I the landlord would have worsted,
Would have slain a thousand heroes,
Would have taught them useful lessons."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"Wherefore then art thou indignant,
Didst thou meet disgrace and insult,
Did they rob thee of thy courser?
Buy thou then a better courser
With the riches of thy mother,
With thy father's horded treasures."
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
"Faithful mother of my being,
If my steed had been insulted,
If for him my heart was injured,
I the landlord would have punished,
Would have punished all the horsemen,
All of Pohya's strongest riders."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"Tell me then thy dire misfortune,
What has happened to my hero,
On his journey to Pohyola?
Have the Northland maidens scorned thee,
Have the women ridiculed thee?
If the maidens scorned thy presence.
If the women gave derision,
There are others thou canst laugh at,
Thou canst scorn a thousand women."
Said the reckless Lemminkainen:
"Honored mother, fond and faithful,
If the Northland dames had scorned me
Or the maidens laughed derision,
I the maidens would have punished,
Would have scorned a thousand women."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"Wherefore then are thou indignant,
Thus annoyed, and heavy-hearted,
On returning from Pohyola?
Was thy feasting out of season,
Was the banquet-beer unworthy,
Were thy dreams of evil import
When asleep in darksome Northland?"
This is Lemminkainen's answer:
"Aged women may remember
What they dream on beds of trouble;
I have seen some wondrous visions,
Since I left my Island-cottage.
My beloved, helpful mother,
Fill my bag with good provisions,
Flour and salt in great abundance,
Farther must thy hero wander,
He must leave his home behind him,
Leave his pleasant Island-dwelling,
Journey from this home of ages;
Men are sharpening their broadswords,
Sharpening their spears and lances,
For the death of Lemminkainen."

Then again the mother questioned,
Hurriedly she asked the reason:
"Why the men their swords were whetting,
Why their spears are being sharpened."

Spake the reckless Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli:
"Therefore do they whet their broadswords,
Therefore sharpen they their lances:
It is for thy son's destruction,
At his heart are aimed their lances.
In the court-yard of Pohyola,
There arose a great contention,
Fierce the battle waged against me;
But I slew the Northland hero,
Killed the host of Sariola;
Quick to arms rose Louhi's people,
All the spears and swords of Northland
Were directed at thy hero;
All of Pohya turned against me,
Turned against a single foeman."
This the answer of the mother:
"I had told thee this beforehand,
I had warned thee of this danger,
And forbidden thee to journey
To the hostile fields of Northland.
Here my hero could have lingered,
Passed his life in full contentment,
Lived forever with his mother,
With his mother for protection,
In the court-yard with his kindred;
Here no war would have arisen,
No contention would have followed.
Whither wilt thou go, my hero,
Whither will my loved one hasten,
To escape thy fierce pursuers,
To escape from thy misdoings,
From thy sins to bide in safety,
From thy crimes and misdemeanors,
That thy head be not endangered,
That thy body be not mangled,
That thy locks be not outrooted?"
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
"Know I not a spot befitting,
Do not know a place of safety,
Where to hide from my pursuers,
That will give me sure protection
From the crimes by me committed.
Helpful mother of my being,
Where to flee wilt thou advise me?"
This the answer of the mother:
"I do not know where I can send thee;
Be a pine-tree on the mountain,
Or a juniper in lowlands?
Then misfortune may befall thee;
Often is the mountain pine-tree
Cut in splints for candle-lighters;
And the juniper is often
Peeled for fence-posts for the pastures.
Go a birch-tree to the valleys,
Or an elm-tree to the glenwood?
Even then may trouble find thee,
Misery may overtake thee;
Often is the lowland birch-tree
Cut to pieces in the ware-house;
Often is the elm-wood forest
Cleared away for other plantings.
Be a berry on the highlands,
Cranberry upon the heather,
Strawberry upon the mountains,
Blackberry along the fences?
Even there will trouble find thee,
There misfortune overtake thee,
For the berry-maids would pluck thee,
Silver-tinselled girls would get thee.
Be a pike then in the ocean,
Or a troutlet in the rivers?
Then would trouble overtake thee,
Would become thy life-companion;
Then the fisherman would catch thee,
Catch thee in his net of flax-thread,
Catch thee with his cruel fish-hook.
Be a wolf then in the forest,
Or a black-bear in the thickets?
Even then would trouble find thee,
And disaster cross thy pathway;
Sable hunters of the Northland
Have their spears and cross-bows ready
To destroy the wolf and black-bear."
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
"Know I well the worst of places,
Know where Death will surely follow,
Where misfortune's eye would find me;
Since thou gavest me existence,
Gavest nourishment in childhood,
Whither shall I flee for safety,
Whither hide from death and danger?
In my view is fell destruction,
Dire misfortune 'hovers o'er me;
On the morrow come the spearmen,
Countless warriors from Pohya,
Ahti's head their satisfaction."
This the answer of the mother:
"I can name a goodly refuge,
Name a land of small dimensions,
Name a distant ocean-island,
Where my son may live in safety.
Thither archers never wander,
There thy head cannot be severed;
But an oath as strong as heaven,
Thou must swear before thy mother;
Thou wilt not for sixty summers
Join in war or deadly combat,
Even though thou wishest silver,
Wishest gold and silver treasures."
Spake the grateful Lemminkainen:
"I will swear an oath of honor,
That I'll not in sixty summers
Draw my sword in the arena,
Test the warrior in battle;
I have wounds upon my shoulders,
On my breast two scars of broadsword,
Of my former battles, relies,
Relies of my last encounters,
On the battle-fields of Northland,
In the wars with men and heroes."
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
"Go thou, take thy father's vessel,
Go and bide thyself in safety,
Travel far across nine oceans;
In the tenth, sail to the centre,
To the island, forest-covered,
To the cliffs above the waters,
Where thy father went before thee,
Where he hid from his pursuers,
In the times of summer conquests,
In the darksome days of battle;
Good the isle for thee to dwell in,
Goodly place to live and linger;
Hide one year, and then a second,
In the third return in safety
To thy mother's island dwelling,
To thy father's ancient mansion,
To my hero's place of resting."

Next: Rune XXIX. The Isle of Refuge.