Velisurmaaja — The Brother Slayer

Velisurmaaja was published in Elias Lönnrot’s collection of traditional Finnish poems, the Kanteletar in 1840. It bears some similarity to the British ballad Edward. What follows is the original text, lifted from the tenth Gutenberg edition of Kanteletar juxtaposed with my English translation (which is more concerned with getting the message across than being good poetry). However, I am assured the translation is not beyond redemption, so here it is:

VELISURMAAJA THE BROTHER SLAYER
“Mistäs tulet, kustas tulet, “Where do you come from,
    Poikani iloinen?”—     My son, my merry son?”—
“Meren rannalta, meren rannalta, “I come from the shore,
    Äitini kultainen.”     My mother, dear mother.”
“Mitä sieltä tekemästä, “What were you doing there,
    Poikani iloinen?”—     My son, my merry son?”—
“Hevostani juottamasta, “I watered my horse,
    Äitini kultainen.”     My mother, dear mother.”
“Mist’ on selkäsi saveen tullut, “How did your coat get all muddy,
    Poikani iloinen?”—     My son, my merry son?”—
“Hevonen huiskasi hännällänsä, “The horse wagged his tail,
    Äitini kultainen.”     My mother, dear mother.”
“Mist’ on jalkasi vereen tullut, “How did your feet get all bloody,
    Poikani iloinen?”—     My son, my merry son?”—
“Hevonen polkasi rauallansa, “The horse kicked with his shoe,
    Äitini kultainen.”     My mother, dear mother.”
Mist’ on miekkasi vereen tullut, “How did your sword get all bloody,
    Poikani iloinen?”—     My son, my merry son?”—
“Pistin veljeni kuoliaksi, “I stabbed my brother dead,
    Äitini kultainen.”     My mother, dear mother.”
“Mintähen sinä veljesi pistit, “Why did you stab your brother,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Mintähen naistani nauratteli, “Why did he please my woman,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Minne nyt sinä itse jouvut, “Where is your own destiny now,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Muille maille vierahille, “In other countries, foreign countries,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Minne heität taattosi vanhan, “What shall befall your old man,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Mieron verkkoja paikatkohon, “Let him seek the workhouse,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Minne heität maammosi vanhan, “What shall befall your old woman,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Mieron rihmoja keträtköhön, “Let her beg for her bread,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Minne heität naisesi nuoren, “What shall befall your young wife,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Mieron miehiä katselkohon, “Let her walk the streets,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Minne heität poikasi nuoren, “What shall befall your young son,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Mieron koulua kärsiköhön, “Let him learn the cruelty of men,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Minne heität tyttösi nuoren, “What shall befall your young daughter,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Mieron karjoja kaitsekohon, “Let her serve the whims of the lords,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Koskas sieltä kotihin käännyt, “When shall you return home,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Konsa korppi valkenevi, “When the white raven flies,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Koskas korppi valkenevi, “When shall the white raven fly,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Konsa hanhi mustenevi, “When the black goose appears,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Koskas hanhi mustenevi, “When shall the black goose appear,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Konsa kivi veen päällä pyörii, “When a rock dances on the water,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Koskas kivi veen päällä pyörii, “When shall a rock dance on the water,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Konsa höyhen pohjaan painuu, “When a feather sinks to the bottom,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Koskas höyhen pohjaan painuu, “When shall a feather sink to the bottom,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Konsa päivä syänyöllä paistaa, “When the night is bright,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Koskas päivä syänyöllä paistaa, “When shall the night be bright,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Konsa kuuhut kuumasti polttaa, “When the moonshine warms the earth,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Koskas kuuhut kuumasti polttaa, “When shall the moonshine warm the earth,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Konsa tähet taivaalla tanssii, “When the stars dance in the sky,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”
“Koskas tähet taivaalla tanssii, “When shall the stars dance in the sky,
    Poikani poloinen?”—     My son, my wretched son?”—
“Konsa kaikki tuomiolle tullaan, “When the judgment day comes,
    Muorini kultainen.”     My mother, beloved mother.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>