Tehtävät (The Tasks)

That smith, God’s creature
the everlasting craftsman
was hammering, was tapping
upon the clear stretch of sea.
He used his shirt for bellows
his breeches for puffing air
he set serfs to blow
hirelings to work the bellows
and himself looked on.
They blew a day, another
soon they started on a third:
the smith looked – a handsome room.

The smith squeezed into the house
in the space between two pots
where three hooks turned to and fro.

“Come, O little girl, to me!”
“No, I will not come to you.
Fashion a vault for the sky
on which there is no hammer-mark
nor trace of where tongs have held.”

He forged a vault for the sky
and there was no hammer-mark
nor trace of where tongs had held.

“Come, O little girl, to me!”
“No, I will not come to you.
Shoot a star down from the sky
without using your right hand
without using your left thumb!”

The smith, God’s creature
shot a star down from the sky
without using his right hand
without using his left thumb.

“Come, O little girl, to me!”
“No, I will not come to you.
Kill the wife you have wedded
the mistress you have brought home
kill the children you have had!”

The smith, God’s creature
killed the wife he had wedded
the mistress he had brought home
kill the children he had had.

“Come, O little girl, to me!”
“No, I will not come to you:
you have killed your wedded wife
the mistress you had brought home
and you will want to kill me.”

The smith wrung his hands: “Poor me
I have done an evil thing
I have fallen for a whore
for an evil woman’s whim:
I have killed my wedded wife!”

Finnish Folk Poetry: An Anthology in Finnish and English
Edited and translated by Matti Kuusi, Keith Bosley, Michael Branch

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