Elias Lönnrot

(9 April 1802 – 19 March 1884 / Sammatti / Finland)

The Kalevala - Rune Xxix - Poem by Elias Lönnrot

THE ISLE OF REFUGE.


Lemminkainen, full of joyance,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli,
Took provisions in abundance,
Fish and butter, bread and bacon,
Hastened to the Isle of Refuge,
Sailed away across the oceans,
Spake these measures on departing:
'Fare thee well, mine Island-dwelling,
I must sail to other borders,
To an island more protective,
Till the second summer passes;
Let the serpents keep the island,
Lynxes rest within the glen-wood,
Let the blue-moose roam the mountains,
Let the wild-geese cat the barley.
Fare thee well, my helpful mother!
When the warriors of the Northland,
From the dismal Sariola,
Come with swords, and spears, and cross-bows,
Asking for my head in vengeance,
Say that I have long departed,
Left my mother's Island-dwelling,
When the barley had been garnered.'
Then he launched his boat of copper,
Threw the vessel to the waters,
From the iron-banded rollers,
From the cylinders of oak-wood,
On the masts the sails he hoisted,
Spread the magic sails of linen,
In the stern the hero settled
And prepared to sail his vessel,
One hand resting on the rudder.
Then the sailor spake as follows,
These the words of Lemminkainen:
'Blow, ye winds, and drive me onward,
Blow ye steady, winds of heaven,
Toward the island in the ocean,
That my bark may fly in safety
To my father's place of refuge,
To the far and nameless island!'
Soon the winds arose as bidden,
Rocked the vessel o'er the billows,
O'er the blue-back of the waters,
O'er the vast expanse of ocean;
Blew two months and blew unceasing,
Blew a third month toward the island,
Toward his father's Isle of Refuge.
Sat some maidens on the seaside,
On the sandy beach of ocean,
Turned about in all directions,
Looking out upon the billows;
One was waiting for her brother,
And a second for her father,
And a third one, anxious, waited
For the, coming of her suitor;
There they spied young Lemminkainen,
There perceived the hero's vessel
Sailing o'er the bounding billows;
It was like a hanging cloudlet,
Hanging twixt the earth and heaven.
Thus the island-maidens wondered,
Thus they spake to one another:
'What this stranger on the ocean,
What is this upon the waters?
Art thou one of our sea-vessels?
Wert thou builded on this island?
Sail thou straightway to the harbor,
To the island-point of landing
That thy tribe may be discovered.'
Onward did the waves propel it,
Rocked his vessel o'er the billows,
Drove it to the magic island,
Safely landed Lemminkainen
On the sandy shore and harbor.
Spake he thus when he had landed,
These the words that Ahti uttered:
'Is there room upon this island,
Is there space within this harbor,
Where my bark may lie at anchor,
Where the sun may dry my vessel?'
This the answer of the virgins,
Dwellers on the Isle of Refuge:
'There is room within this harbor,
On this island, space abundant,
Where thy bark may lie at anchor,
Where the sun may dry thy vessel;
Lying ready are the rollers,
Cylinders adorned with copper;
If thou hadst a hundred vessels,
Shouldst thou come with boats a thousand,
We would give them room in welcome.'
Thereupon wild Lemminkainen
Rolled his vessel in the harbor,
On the cylinders of copper,
Spake these words when he had ended:
'Is there room upon this island,
Or a spot within these forests,
Where a hero may be hidden
From the coming din of battle,
From the play of spears and arrows?
Thus replied the Island-maidens:
'There are places on this island,
On these plains a spot befitting
Where to hide thyself in safety,
Hero-son of little valor.
Here are many, many castles,
Many courts upon this island;
Though there come a thousand heroes,
Though a thousand spearmen. follow,
Thou canst hide thyself in safety.'
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
'Is there room upon this island,
Where the birch-tree grows abundant,
Where this son may fell the forest,
And may cultivate the fallow? '
Answered thus the Island-maidens:
'There is not a spot befitting,
Not a place upon the island,
Where to rest thy wearied members,
Not the smallest patch of birch-wood,
Thou canst bring to cultivation.
All our fields have been divided,
All these woods have been apportioned,
Fields and forests have their owners.'
Lemminkainen asked this question,
These the words of Kaukomieli:
'Is there room upon this island,
Worthy spot in field or forest,
Where to Sing my songs of magic,
Chant my gathered store of wisdom,
Sing mine ancient songs and legends?'
Answered thus the Island-maidens:
'There is room upon this island,
Worthy place in these dominions,
Thou canst sing thy garnered wisdom,
Thou canst chant thine ancient legends,
Legends of the times primeval,
In the forest, in the castle,
On the island-plains and pastures.'
Then began the reckless minstrel
To intone his wizard-sayings;
Sang he alders to the waysides,
Sang the oaks upon the mountains,
On the oak-trees sang be branches,
On each branch he sang an acorn,
On the acorns, golden rollers,
On each roller, sang a cuckoo;
Then began the cuckoos, calling,
Gold from every throat came streaming,
Copper fell from every feather,
And each wing emitted silver,
Filled the isle with precious metals.
Sang again young Lemminkainen,
Conjured on, and sang, and chanted,
Sang to precious stones the sea-sands,
Sang the stones to pearls resplendent,
Robed the groves in iridescence,
Sang the island full of flowers,
Many-colored as the rainbow.
Sang again the magic minstrel,
In the court a well he conjured,
On the well a golden cover,
On the lid a silver dipper,
That the boys might drink the water,
That the maids might lave their eyelids.
On the plains he conjured lakelets,
Sang the duck upon the waters,
Golden-cheeked and silver-headed,
Sang the feet from shining copper;
And the Island-maidens wondered,
Stood entranced at Ahti's wisdom,
At the songs of Lemminkainen,
At the hero's magic power.
Spake the singer, Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli:
'I would sing a wondrous legend,
Sing in miracles of sweetness,
If within some hall or chamber,
I were seated at the table.
If I sing not in the castle,
In some spot by walls surrounded
Then I sing my songs to zephyrs,
Fling them to the fields and forests.'
Answered thus the Island-maidens:
'On this isle are castle-chambers,
Halls for use of magic singers,
Courts complete for chanting legends,
Where thy singing will be welcome,
Where thy songs will not be scattered
To the forests of the island,
Nor thy wisdom lost in ether.'
Straightway Lemminkainen journeyed
With the maidens to the castle;
There he sang and conjured pitchers
On the borders of the tables,
Sang and conjured golden goblets
Foaming with the beer of barley;
Sang he many well-filled vessels,
Bowls of honey-drink abundant,
Sweetest butter, toothsome biscuit,
Bacon, fish, and veal, and venison,
All the dainties of the Northland,
Wherewithal to still his hunger.
But the proud-heart, Lemminkainen,
Was not ready for the banquet,
Did not yet begin his feasting,
Waited for a knife of silver,
For a knife of golden handle;
Quick he sang the precious metals,
Sang a blade from purest silver,
To the blade a golden handle,
Straightway then began his feasting,
Quenched his thirst and stilled his hunger,
Charmed the maidens on the island.
Then the minstrel, Lemminkainen,
Roamed throughout the island-hamlets,
To the joy of all the virgins,
All the maids of braided tresses;
Wheresoe'er he turned his footsteps,
There appeared a maid to greet him;
When his hand was kindly offered,
There his band was kindly taken;
When he wandered out at evening,
Even in the darksome places,
There the maidens bade him welcome;
There was not an island-village
Where there were not seven castles,
In each castle seven daughters,
And the daughters stood in waiting,
Gave the hero joyful greetings,
Only one of all the maidens
Whom he did not greet with pleasure.
Thus the merry Lemminkainen
Spent three summers in the ocean,
Spent a merry time in refuge,
In the hamlets on the island,
To the pleasure of the maidens,
To the joy of all the daughters;
Only one was left neglected,
She a poor and graceless spinster,
On the isle's remotest border,
In the smallest of the hamlets.
'Then he thought about his journey
O'er the ocean to his mother,
To the cottage of his father.
There appeared the slighted spinster,
To the Northland son departing,
Spake these words to Lemminkainen:
'O, thou handsome Kaukomieli,
Wisdom-bard, and magic singer,
Since this maiden thou hast slighted,
May the winds destroy thy vessel,
Dash thy bark to countless fragments
On the ocean-rocks and ledges!'
Lemminkainen's thoughts were homeward,
Did not heed the maiden's murmurs,
Did not rise before the dawning
Of the morning on the island,
To the pleasure of the maiden
Of the much-neglected hamlet.
Finally at close of evening,
He resolved to leave the island,
He resolved to waken early,
Long before the dawn of morning;
Long before the time appointed,
He arose that he might wander
Through the hamlets of the island,
Bid adieu to all the maidens,
On the morn of his departure.
As he wandered hither, thither,
Walking through the village path-ways
To the last of all the hamlets;
Saw he none of all the castle-,
Where three dwellings were not standing;
Saw he none of all the dwellings
Where three heroes were not watching;
Saw he none of all the heroes,
Who was not engaged in grinding
Swords, and spears, and battle-axes,
For the death of Lemminkainen.
And these words the hero uttered:
'Now alas! the Sun arises
From his couch within the ocean,
On the frailest of the heroes,
On the saddest child of Northland;
On my neck the cloak of Lempo
Might protect me from all evil,
Though a hundred foes assail me,
Though a thousand archers follow.'
Then he left the maids ungreeted,
Left his longing for the daughters
Of the nameless Isle of Refuge,
With his farewell-words unspoken,
Hastened toward the island-harbor,
Toward his magic bark at anchor;
But he found it burned to ashes,
Sweet revenge had fired his vessel,
Lighted by the slighted spinster.
Then he saw the dawn of evil,
Saw misfortune hanging over,
Saw destruction round about him.
Straightway he began rebuilding
Him a magic sailing-vessel,
New and wondrous, full of beauty;
But the hero needed timber,
Boards, and planks, and beams, and braces,
Found the smallest bit of lumber,
Found of boards but seven fragments,
Of a spool he found three pieces,
Found six pieces of the distaff;
With these fragments builds his vessel,
Builds a ship of magic virtue,
Builds the bark with secret knowledge,
Through the will of the magician;
Strikes one blow, and builds the first part,
Strikes a second, builds the centre,
Strikes a third with wondrous power,
And the vessel is completed.
Thereupon the ship he launches,
Sings the vessel to the ocean,
And these words the hero utters:
'Like a bubble swim these waters,
Like a flower ride the billows;
Loan me of thy magic feathers,
Three, O eagle, four, O raven,
For protection to my vessel,
Lest it flounder in the ocean!'
Now the sailor, Lemminkainen,
Seats himself upon the bottom
Of the vessel he has builded,
Hastens on his journey homeward,
Head depressed and evil-humored,
Cap awry upon his forehead,
Mind dejected, heavy-hearted,
That he could not dwell forever
In the castles of the daughters
Of the nameless Isle of Refuge.
Spake the minstrel, Lemminkainen,
Handsome hero, Kaukomieli:
'Leave I must this merry island,
Leave her many joys and pleasures,
Leave her maids with braided tresses,
Leave her dances and her daughters,
To the joys of other heroes;
But I take this comfort with me:
All the maidens on the island,
Save the spinster who was slighted,
Will bemoan my loss for ages,
Will regret my quick departure;
They will miss me at the dances,
In the halls of mirth and joyance,
In the homes of merry maidens,
On my father's Isle of Refuge.'
Wept the maidens on the island,
Long lamenting, loudly calling
To the hero sailing homeward:
'Whither goest, Lemminkainen,
Why depart, thou best of heroes?
Dost thou leave from inattention,
Is there here a dearth of maidens,
Have our greetings been unworthy?'
Sang the magic Lemminkainen
To the maids as he was sailing,
This in answer to their calling:
'Leaving not for want of pleasure,
Do not go from dearth of women
Beautiful the island-maidens,
Countless as the sands their virtues.
This the reason of my going,
I am longing for my home-land,
Longing for my mother's cabins,
For the strawberries of Northland,
For the raspberries of Kalew,
For the maidens of my childhood,
For the children of my mother.'
Then the merry Lemminkainen
Bade farewell to all the island;
Winds arose and drove his vessel
On the blue-back of the ocean,
O'er the far-extending waters,
Toward the island of his mother.
On the shore were grouped the daughters
Of the magic Isle of Refuge,
On the rocks sat the forsaken,
Weeping stood the island-maidens,
Golden daughters, loud-lamenting.
Weep the maidens of the island
While the sail-yards greet their vision,
While the copper-beltings glisten;
Do not weep to lose the sail-yards,
Nor to lose the copper-beltings;
Weep they for the loss of Ahti,
For the fleeing Kaukomieli
Guiding the departing vessel.
Also weeps young Lemminkainen,
Sorely weeps, and loud-lamenting,
Weeps while he can see the island,
While the island hill-tops glisten;
Does not mourn the island-mountains,
Weeps he only for the maidens,
Left upon the Isle of Refuge.
Thereupon sailed Kaukomieli
On the blue-back of the ocean;
Sailed one day, and then a second,
But, alas! upon the third day,
There arose a mighty storm-wind,
And the sky was black with fury.
Blew the black winds from the north-west,
From the south-east came the whirlwind,
Tore away the ship's forecastle,
Tore away the vessel's rudder,
Dashed the wooden hull to pieces.
Thereupon wild Lemminkainen
Headlong fell upon the waters;
With his head he did the steering,
With his hands and feet, the rowing;
Swam whole days and nights unceasing,
Swam with hope and strength united,
Till at last appeared a cloudlet,
Growing cloudlet to the westward,
Changing to a promontory,
Into land within the ocean.
Swiftly to the shore swam Ahti,
Hastened to a magic castle,
Found therein a hostess baking,
And her daughters kneading barley,
And these words the hero uttered:
'O, thou hostess, filled with kindness,
Couldst thou know my pangs of hunger,
Couldst thou guess my name and station,
Thou wouldst hasten to the storehouse,
Bring me beer and foaming liquor,
Bring the best of thy provisions,
Bring me fish, and veal, and bacon,
Butter, bread, and honeyed biscuits,
Set for me a wholesome dinner,
Wherewithal to still my hunger,
Quench the thirst of Lemminkainen.
Days and nights have I been swimming,
Buffeting the waves of ocean,
Seemed as if the wind protected,
And the billows gave me shelter,'
Then the hostess, filled with kindness,
Hastened to the mountain storehouse,
Cut some butter, veal, and bacon,
Bread, and fish, and honeyed biscuit,
Brought the best of her provisions,
Brought the mead and beer of barley,
Set for him a toothsome dinner,
Wherewithal to still his hunger,
Quench the thirst of Lemminkainen.
When the hero's feast had ended,
Straightway was a magic vessel
Given by the kindly hostess
To the weary Kaukomieli,
Bark of beauty, new and hardy,
Wherewithal to aid the stranger
In his journey to his home-land,
To the cottage of his mother.
Quickly sailed wild Lemminkainen
On the blue-back of the ocean;
Sailed he days and nights unceasing,
Till at last he reached the borders
Of his own loved home and country;
There beheld he scenes familiar,
Saw the islands, capes, and rivers,
Saw his former shipping-stations,
Saw he many ancient landmarks,
Saw the mountains with their fir-trees,
Saw the pine-trees on the hill-tops,
Saw the willows in the lowlands;
Did not see his father's cottage,
Nor the dwellings of his mother.
Where a mansion once had risen,
There the alder-trees were growing,
Shrubs were growing on the homestead,
Junipers within the court-yard.
Spake the reckless Lemminkainen:
'In this glen I played and wandered,
On these stones I rocked for ages,
On this lawn I rolled and tumbled,
Frolicked on these woodland-borders,
When a child of little stature.
Where then is my mother's dwelling,
Where the castles of my father?
Fire, I fear, has found the hamlet,
And the winds dispersed the ashes.'
Then he fell to bitter weeping,
Wept one day and then a second,
Wept the third day without ceasing;
Did not mourn the ancient homestead,
Nor the dwellings of his father;
Wept he for his darling mother,
Wept he for the dear departed,
For the loved ones of the island.
Then he saw the bird of heaven,
Saw an eagle flying near him,
And he asked the bird this question:
'Mighty eagle, bird majestic,
Grant to me the information,
Where my mother may have wandered,
Whither I may go and find her!'
But the eagle knew but little,
Only knew that Ahti's people
Long ago together perished;
And the raven also answered
That his people had been scattered
By the, swords, and spears, and arrows,
Of his enemies from Pohya.
Spake the hero, Lemminkainen:
'Faithful mother, dear departed,
Thou who nursed me in my childhood,
Art thou dead and turned to ashes,
Didst thou perish for my follies,
O'er thy head are willows weeping,
Junipers above thy body,
Alders watching o'er thy slumbers?
This my punishment for evil,
This the recompense of folly!
Fool was I, a son unworthy,
That I measured swords in Northland
With the landlord of Pohyola,
To my tribe came fell destruction,
And the death of my dear mother,
Through my crimes and misdemeanors.'
Then the ministrel [sic] looked about him,
Anxious, looked in all directions,
And beheld some gentle foot-prints,
Saw a pathway lightly trodden
Where the heather had been beaten.
Quick as thought the path he followed,
Through the meadows, through the brambles,
O'er the hills, and through the valleys,
To a forest, vast and cheerless;
Travelled far and travelled farther,
Still a greater distance travelled,
To a dense and hidden glenwood,
In the middle of the island;
Found therein a sheltered cabin,
Found a small and darksome dwelling
Built between the rocky ledges,
In the midst of triple pine-trees;
And within he spied his mother,
Found his gray-haired mother weeping.
Lemminkainen loud rejoices,
Cries in tones of joyful greetings,
These the words that Ahti utters:
'Faithful mother, well-beloved,
Thou that gavest me existence,
Happy I, that thou art living,
That thou hast not yet departed
To the kingdom of Tuoni,
To the islands of the blessed,
I had thought that thou hadst perished,
Hadst been murdered by my foemen,
Hadst been slain with bows and arrows.
Heavy are mine eyes from weeping,
And my checks are white with sorrow,
Since I thought my mother slaughtered
For the sins I had committed!'
Lemminkainen's mother answered:
'Long, indeed, hast thou been absent,
Long, my son, hast thou been living
In thy father's Isle of Refuge,
Roaming on the secret island,
Living at the doors of strangers,
Living in a nameless country,
Refuge from the Northland foemen.'
Spake the, hero, Lemminkainen:
'Charming is that spot for living,
Beautiful the magic island,
Rainbow-colored was the forest,
Blue the glimmer of the meadows,
Silvered were, the pine-tree branches,
Golden were the heather-blossoms;
All the woodlands dripped with honey,
Eggs in every rock and crevice,
Honey flowed from birch and sorb-tree,
Milk in streams from fir and aspen,
Beer-foam dripping from the willows,
Charming there to live and linger,
All their edibles delicious.
This their only source of trouble:
Great the fear for all the maidens,
All the heroes filled with envy,
Feared the coming of the stranger;
Thought that all the island-maidens,
Thought that all the wives and daughters,
All the good, and all the evil,
Gave thy son too much attention;
Thought the stranger, Lemminkainen,
Saw the Island-maids too often;
Yet the virgins I avoided,
Shunned the good and shunned the evil,
Shunned the host of charming daughters,
As the black-wolf shuns the sheep-fold,
As the hawk neglects the chickens.'


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010



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