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LEMMINKAINEN, reckless minstrel,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli,
Hastens as the dawn is breaking,
At the dawning of the morning,
To the resting-place of vessels,
To the harbor of the island,
Finds the vessels sorely weeping,
Hears the wailing of the rigging,
And the ships intone this chorus:
"Must we wretched lie forever
In the harbor of this island,
Here to dry and fall in pieces?
Ahti wars no more in Northland,
Wars no more for sixty summers,
Even should he thirst for silver,
Should he wish the gold of battle."
Lemminkainen struck his vessels
With his gloves adorned with copper,
And addressed the ships as follows:
"Mourn no more, my ships of fir-wood,
Strong and hardy is your rigging,
To the wars ye soon may hasten,
Hasten to the seas of battle;
Warriors may swarm your cabins
Ere to-morrow's morn has risen."
Then the reckless Lemminkainen
Hastened to his aged mother,
Spake to her the words that follow:
"Weep no longer, faithful mother,
Do not sorrow for thy hero,
Should he leave for scenes of battle,
For the hostile fields of Pohya;
Sweet revenge has fired my spirit,
And my soul is well determined,
To avenge the shameful insult
That the warriors of Northland
Gave to thee, defenseless woman."
To restrain him seeks his mother,
Warns her son again of danger:
"Do not go, my son beloved,
To the wars in Sariola;
There the jaws of Death await thee,
Fell destruction lies before thee!"
Lemminkainen, little heeding,
Still determined, speaks as follows:
"Where may I secure a swordsman,
Worthy of my race of heroes,
To assist me in the combat?
Often I have heard of Tiera,
Heard of Kura of the islands,
This one I will take to help me,
Magic hero of the broadsword;
He will aid me in the combat,
Will protect me from destruction."
Then he wandered to the islands,
On the way to Tiera's hamlet,
These the words that Ahti utters
As he nears the ancient dwellings:
Dearest friend, my noble Tiera,
My, beloved hero-brother,
Dost thou other times remember,
When we fought and bled together,
On the battle-fields of Northland?
There was not an island-village
Where there were not seven mansions,
In each mansion seven heroes,
And not one of all these foemen
Whom we did not slay with broadswords,
Victims of our skill and valor."
Near the window sat the father
Whittling out a javelin-handle;
Near the threshold sat the mother
Skimming cream and making butter;
Near the portal stood the brother
Working on a sledge of birch-wood
Near the bridge-pass were the sisters
Washing out their varied garments.
Spake the father from the window,
From the threshold spake the mother,
From the portals spake the brother,
And the sisters from the bridge-pass:
"Tiera has no time for combat,
And his broadsword cannot battle;
Tiera is but late a bridegroom,
Still unveiled his bride awaits him."
Near the hearth was Tiera lying,
Lying by the fire was Kura,
Hastily one foot was shoeing,
While the other lay in waiting.
From the hook he takes his girdle,
Buckles it around his body,
Takes a javelin from its resting,
Not the largest, nor the smallest,
Buckles on his mighty scabbard,
Dons his heavy mail of copper;
On each javelin pranced a charger,
Wolves were howling from his helmet,
On the rings the bears were growling.
Tiera poised his mighty javelin,
Launched the spear upon its errand;
Hurled the shaft across the pasture,
To the border of the forest,
O'er the clay-fields of Pohyola,
O'er the green and fragrant meadows,
Through the distant bills of Northland.
Then great Tiera touched his javelin
To the mighty spear of Ahti,
Pledged his aid to Lemminkainen,
As his combatant and comrade.
Thereupon wild Kaukomieli
Pushed his boat upon the waters;
Like the serpent through the heather,
Like the creeping of the adder,
Sails the boat away to Pohya,
O'er the seas of Sariola.
Quick the wicked hostess, Louhi,
Sends the black-frost of the heavens
To the waters of Pohyola,
O'er the far-extending sea-plains,
Gave the black-frost these directions:
"Much-loved Frost, my son and hero,
Whom thy mother has instructed,
Hasten whither I may send thee,
Go wherever I command thee,
Freeze the vessel of this hero,
Lemminkainen's bark of magic,
On the broad back of the ocean,
On the far-extending waters;
Freeze the wizard in his vessel,
Freeze to ice the wicked Ahti,
That he never more may wander,
Never waken while thou livest,
Or at least till I shall free him,
Wake him from his icy slumber!"
Frost, the son of wicked parents,
Hero-son of evil manners,
Hastens off to freeze the ocean,
Goes to fasten down the flood-gates,
Goes to still the ocean-currents.
As he hastens on his journey,
Takes the leaves from all the forest,
Strips the meadows of their verdure,
Robs the flowers of their colors.
When his journey he had ended,
Gained the border of the ocean,
Gained the sea-shore curved and endless,
On the first night of his visit,
Freezes he the lakes and rivers,
Freezes too the shore of ocean,
Freezes not the ocean-billows,
Does not check the ocean-currents.
On the sea a finch is resting,
Bird of song upon the waters,
But his feet are not yet frozen,
Neither is his head endangered.
When the second night Frost lingered,
He began to grow important,
He became a fierce intruder,
Fearless grew in his invasions,
Freezes everything before him;
Sends the fiercest cold of Northland,
Turns to ice the boundless waters.
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker,
Grew the ice on sea and ocean,
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper,
Fell the snow on field and forest,
Froze the hero's ship of beauty,
Cold and lifeless bark of Ahti;
Sought to freeze wild Lemminkainen,
Freeze him lifeless as his vessel,
Asked the minstrel for his life-blood,
For his ears, and feet, and fingers.
Then the hero, Lemminkainen,
Angry grew and filled with magic,
Hurled the black-frost to the fire-god,
Threw him to the fiery furnace,
Held him in his forge of iron,
Then addressed the frost as follows:
"Frost, thou evil son of Northland,
Dire and only son of Winter,
Let my members not be stiffened,
Neither ears, nor feet, nor fingers,
Neither let my head be frozen.
Thou hast other things to feed on,
Many other beads to stiffen;
Leave in peace the flesh of heroes,
Let this minstrel pass in safety,
Freeze the swamps, and lakes, and rivers,
Fens and forests, bills and valleys;
Let the cold stones grow still colder,
Freeze the willows in the waters,
Let the aspens freeze and suffer,
Let the bark peel from the birch-trees,
Let the Pines burst on the mountains,
Let this hero pass in safety,
Do not let his locks be stiffened.
"If all these prove insufficient,
Feed on other worthy matters;
Lot the hot stones freeze asunder,
Let the flaming rocks be frozen,
Freeze the fiery blocks of iron,
Freeze to ice the iron mountains;
Stiffen well the mighty Wuoksi,
Let Imatra freeze to silence;
Freeze the sacred stream and whirlpool,
Let their boiling billows stiffen,
Or thine origin I'll sing thee,
Tell thy lineage of evil.
Well I know thine evil nature,
Know thine origin and power,
Whence thou camest, where thou goest,
Know thine ancestry of evil.
Thou wert born upon the aspen,
Wert conceived upon the willows,
Near the borders of Pohyola,
In the courts of dismal Northland;
Sin-begotten was thy father,
And thy mother was Dishonor.
"While in infancy who fed thee,
While thy mother could not nurse thee?
Surely thou wert fed by adders,
Nursed by foul and slimy serpents;
North-winds rocked thee into slumber,
Cradled thee in roughest weather,
In the worst of willow-marshes,
In the springs forever flowing,
Evil-born and evil-nurtured,
Grew to be an evil genius,
Evil was thy mind and spirit,
And the infant still was nameless,
Till the name of Frost was given
To the progeny of evil.
"Then the young lad lived in hedges,
Dwelt among the weeds and willows,
Lived in springs in days of summer,
On the borders of the marshes,
Tore the lindens in the winter,
Stormed among the glens and forests,
Raged among the sacred birch-trees,
Rattled in the alder-branches,
Froze the trees, the shoots, the grasses,
Evened all the plains and prairies,
Ate the leaves within the woodlands,
Made the stalks drop down their blossoms,
Peeled the bark on weeds and willows.
"Thou hast grown to large proportions,
Hast become too tall and mighty;
Dost thou labor to benumb me,
Dost thou wish mine ears and fingers,
Of my feet wouldst thou deprive me?
Do not strive to freeze this hero,
In his anguish and misfortune;
In my stockings I shall kindle
Fire to drive thee from my presence,
In my shoes lay flaming faggots,
Coals of fire in every garment,
Heated sandstones in my rigging;
Thus will hold thee at a distance.
Then thine evil form I'll banish
To the farthest Northland borders;
When thy journey is completed,
When thy home is reached in safety,
Freeze the caldrons in the castle,
Freeze the coal upon the hearthstone,
In the dough, the hands of women,
On its mother's lap, the infant,
Freeze the colt beside its mother.
"If thou shouldst not heed this order,
I shall banish thee still farther,
To the carbon-piles of Hisi,
To the chimney-hearth of Lempo,
Hurl thee to his fiery furnace,
Lay thee on the iron anvil,
That thy body may be hammered
With the sledges of the blacksmith,
May be pounded into atoms,
Twixt the anvil and the hammer.
"If thou shouldst not heed this order,
Shouldst not leave me to my freedom,
Know I still another kingdom,
Know another spot of resting;
I shall drive thee to the summer,
Lead thy tongue to warmer climates,
There a prisoner to suffer,
Never to obtain thy freedom
Till thy spirit I deliver,
Till I go myself and free thee."
Wicked Frost, the son of Winter,
Saw the magic bird of evil
Hovering above his spirit,
Straightway prayed for Ahti's mercy,
These the words the Frost-fiend uttered:
"Let us now agree together,
Neither one to harm the other,
Never in the course of ages,
Never while the moonlight glimmers
On the snow-capped hills of Northland.
If thou hearest that I bring thee
Cold to freeze thy feet and fingers,
Hurl me to the fiery furnace,
Hammer me upon the anvil
Of the blacksmith, Ilmarinen;
Lead my tongue to warmer climates,
Banish me to lands of summer,
There a prisoner to suffer,
Nevermore to gain my freedom."
Thereupon wild Lemminkainen
Left his vessel in the ocean,
Frozen in the ice of Northland,
Left his warlike boat forever,
Started on his cheerless journey
To the borders of Pohyola,
And the mighty Tiera followed
In the tracks of his companion.
On the ice they journeyed northward
Briskly walked upon the ice-plain,
Walked one day, and then a second,
Till the closing of the third day,
When the Hunger-land approached them,
When appeared Starvation-island.
Here the hardy Lemminkainen
Hastened forward to the castle,
This the hero's prayer and question;
"Is there food within this castle,
Fish or fowl within its larders,
To refresh us on our journey,
Mighty heroes, cold and weary?
When the hero, Lemminkainen,
Found no food within the castle,
Neither fish, nor fowl, nor bacon,
Thus he cursed it and departed:
"May the fire destroy these chambers,
May the waters flood this dwelling,
Wash it to the seas of Mana!"
Then they hastened onward, onward,
Hastened on through field and forest,
Over by-ways long untrodden,
Over unknown paths and snow-fields;
Here the hardy Lemminkainen,
Reckless hero, Kaukomieli,
Pulled the soft wool from the ledges,
Gathered lichens from the tree-trunks,
Wove them into magic stockings,
Wove them into shoes and mittens,
On the settles of the hoar-frost,
In the stinging cold of Northland.
Then he sought to find some pathway,
That would guide their wayward footsteps,
And the hero spake as follows:
"O thou Tiera, friend beloved,
Shall we reach our destination,
Wandering for days together,
Through these Northland fields and forests?
Kura thus replies to Ahti:
"We, alas! have come for vengeance,
Come for blood and retribution,
To the battle-fields of Northland,
To the dismal Sariola,
Here to leave our souls and bodies,
Here to starve, and freeze, and perish,
In the dreariest of places,
In this sun-forsaken country!
Never shall we gain the knowledge,
Never learn it, never tell it,
Which the pathway that can guide us
To the forest-beds to suffer,
To the Pohya-plains to perish,
In the home-land of the ravens,
Fitting food for crows and eagles.
Often do the Northland vultures
Hither come to feed their fledgelings;
Hither bring the birds of heaven
Bits of flesh and blood of heroes;
Often do the beaks of ravens
Tear the flesh of kindred corpses,
Often do the eagle's talons
Carry bones and trembling vitals,
Such as ours, to feed their nestlings,
In their rocky homes and ledges.
"Oh! my mother can but wonder,
Never can divine the answer,
Where her reckless son is roaming,
Where her hero's blood is flowing,
Whether in the swamps and lowlands
Whether in the heat of battle,
Or upon the waves of the ocean,
Or upon the hop-feld mountains,
Or along some forest by-way.
Nothing can her mind discover
Of the frailest of her heroes,
Only think that he has perished.
Thus the hoary-headed mother
Weeps and murmurs in her chambers:
'Where is now my son beloved,
In the kingdom of Manala?
Sow thy crops, thou dread Tuoni,
Harrow well the fields of Kalma!
Now the bow receives its respite
From the fingers of my Tiera;
Bow and arrow now are useless,
Now the merry birds can fatten
In the fields, and fens, and forests;
Bears may live in dens of freedom,
On the fields may sport the elk-herds.'"
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
"Thus it is, mine aged mother,
Thou that gavest me existence!
Thou hast reared thy broods of chickens,
Hatched and reared thy flights of white-swans
All of them the winds have scattered,
Or the evil Lempo frightened;
One flew hither, and one thither,
And a third one, lost forever!
Think thou of our former pleasures,
Of our better days together,
When I wandered like the flowers,
Like the berry in the meadows.
Many saw my form majestic,
Many thought me well-proportioned.
Now is not as then with Ahti,
Into evil days have fallen,
Since I see but storms and darkness!
Then my eyes beheld but sunshine,
Then we did not weep and murmur,
Did not fill our hearts with sorrow,
When the maids in joy were singing,
When the virgins twined their tresses;
Then the women joined in joyance,
Whether brides were happy-wedded,
Whether bridegrooms choose discreetly,
Whether they were wise or unwise.
"But we must not grow disheartened,
Let the Island-maidens cheer us;
Here we are not yet enchanted,
Not bewitched by magic singing,
On the paths not left to perish,
Sink and perish on our journey.
Full of youth we should not suffer,
Strong, we should not die unworthy,
Whom the wizards have enchanted,
Have bewitched with songs of magic;
Sorcerers may charm and conquer,
Bury them within their dungeons,
Hide them spell-bound in their cabins.
Let the wizards charm each other,
And bewitch their magic offspring,
Bring their tribes to fell destruction.
Never did my gray-haired father
Bow submission to a wizard,
Offer worship to magicians.
These the words my father uttered,
These the thoughts his son advances:
'Guard us, thou O great Creator,
Shield us, thou O God of mercy,
With thine arms of grace protect us,
Help us with thy strength and wisdom,
Guide the minds of all thy heroes,
Keep aright the thoughts of women,
Keep the old from speaking evil,
Keep the young from sin and folly,
Be to us a help forever,
Be our Guardian and our Father,
That our children may not wander
From the ways of their Creator,
From the path that God has given!'"
Then the hero Lemminkainen,
Made from cares the fleetest racers,
Sable racers from his sorrows,
Reins he made from days of evil,
From his sacred pains made saddles.
To the saddle, quickly springing,
Galloped he away from trouble,
To his dear and aged mother;
And his comrade, faithful Tiera,
Galloped to his Island-dwelling.
Now departs wild Lemminkainen,
Brave and reckless Kaukomieli,
From these ancient songs and legends;
Only guides his faithful Kura
To his waiting bride and kindred,
While these lays and incantations
Shall be turned to other heroes.