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The Son of the Sun’s Courting in the Land of the Giants

By Anders Fjellner
(Tr. to English by J. Weinstock from Gaski/Stien Norwegian version, then compared to South Sámi original and corrected accordingly)

Few men were there before
A lack of women for the men.
The man hugged his woman
Their blood they blended together.
The mother suckled her offspring
Washed and fed the child.
The boy kicked in the cradle
From his father got strong sinews
From his mother gained good sense.
Ancestor of the Sun’s sons.

That’s how we heard it
So it is told:

Beyond the easternmost star
To the west of moon and sun
Are found fells of silver and gold
Stones for hearth, stones for adornment.
Gold sparkles, silver glimmers
Sea mirrors the mountains’ image.
The suns, the moons and the stars
Smile on the mountains’ cheeks.

The son has his vessel floated
Takes with him the best men.
The wind takes hold of the sails
Pushes the boat forward
The waves drive the floating craft
Rudder and tiller turn
The south wind guides the group
Way beyond the moon
Way beyond the sun’s shining ring.

Soon the moon and the sun will be
As small as the northern star
Great this latter orb grows
Glows in burning ruby-red.

An entire year they are gone.
The waves break against the boat.

Finally the journey is over.
Toward the horizon giant’s shore.
From afar the eye beholds
The giant’s fair young maiden
The blind old man’s support.
She washes clothes by torchlight
Beats, rinses, dries, smoothes them
Makes herself pretty
Puts fragrant grass on her breast
Her eye seeks the sea
Catches sight of the trav’ling son.

(The giant’s daughter):
“ Where do you come from, whom do you seek?
The house of death, the son of the Sun!
Will you be drink for my father
Something good for me to suck on
Drudgery’s price for my brothers
Or my brother-in-laws’ cooking meat?”

(The son of the Sun):
“Sàràhkkà shaped from my father
Flexible sinews and strong arms
Blended mother and father together.
Uksàhkkà fed me with milk
Nourished my heart with reason.
Repose I seek in the storm
A mild smile for my wrath
In life someone to gladden me
In death a friend, in hardship hope
In heartache some support
Under burden of need a comfort.
A mouth to share the catch with
Someone to guide me in the unknown
A descendant of us both.”

Abruptly blood begins to course
Unrest beats in the young breast.

(The giant’s daughter):
“Let us two blend our blood
Let our hearts be united.
In sorrow and joy
In the name of my blessed mother.
Prayer sighing and loss
I hand over to my father.
Call my mother in sand and birchbark.”

(The giant):
“Let him come, the son of the Sun
Let us try the strength of our hands
Stretch our sinews in a fingerpull
Who will be strongest
Whose finger will straighten first?”

His daughter holds out iron glove.

(The giant):
“Sturdy they are
The sinews of the Sun’s people.
Hard is the Son’s nail.”

Fish fat to quench the thirst
A tar bucket as courting gift
Horsemeat for a snack.
The hard scull is filled with mead.
He became drunk, the blind giant
Pulled and tugged at gauntlet iron.
The sweat runs, the heat burns.
Weak grew the man without light.

On hide of sea’s sov’reign, the whale
He places them down
Cuts wounds in their fingers.
Hand in hand and chest to chest
He blends together their blood.
Ties then knots of the kiss.
Frightens away knots of envy.
Cuts snares, and loosens bands.
The wedding party begins.

To his own spinner
She who twisted sedge thread
To his steady seamstress
He gives of his own supply.
Up from the shore, out from the mountain
Silver and gold are borne forth.
Dowry rowed on board in the boat.
The bast wing’s vessel is filled
With precious stones to the gunwale
Gifts to his dear daughter
And his son-in-law with curly hair.

(The giant’s daughter):
“Will the boat hold a greater load?
Has the trav’ling swimmer room for more?”

Her maiden shoes she takes off
Hides well her ancestress’ rags
Devotes self to foreign brother
She accepts his key.

Three chests from the middle house
She has carried out
One blue, one red, one white
Three knots: Peace and strife
Illness and plague, blood and fire.
From Sàràhkkà, Uksàhkkà, Màttaràhkkà
Three knots in a wash cloth:
Three knots in Màttaràhkkà’s hand.
The brothers return from fishing
Have caught walrus and seal.
They seek her, they miss their sister.
“Where’s the beauty of turf hut’s midst?”
Find traces of the bed, ask their father:
“Whose sweaty smell was so sweet
Who perceived the smell of the bosom
To whom did our sister give her hand?
Who showed her manly strength
Played the man’s game with her
Who now amuses the young maid
Who strokes Uksàhkkà’s door?”

(The giant):
“The Sun’s son, the sailor.”

Anew the brothers climbed into boat
Took up the chase of the young ones
To bring their sister back.

Soon are heard oar strokes
Creaking against the boat’s timber
Drown out the waves’ roar.
She unties the maidenhood knot.
The wind grows, fills the sail
Drives the boat quickly away.
Giant brothers are left behind
Squeeze hard on the pair of oars
Sweat and tears are forced out
Howls and threats, orders, oaths.
Gall melts, wrath seethes.

The giant’s daughter’s eyes sparkle
The young bride’s heart hammers
She longs for her marital bed.
Her kidneys swell, her body spreads
The family’s blood is forgotten.
She casts a glance at her husband:
“Can the boat handle stronger wind?”

(The son of the Sun):
Mast and ropes are strong, the boat’ll hold up!
Then she loosens one more knot
On the alder-colored wash cloth.
Anew the storm takes hold
Lifts the sea’s children.
The sail swells.
The brothers again left behind.

The blood boils, they thirst for vengeance.
Their last strength is brought to bear.
Blood and sweat are wiped away.
Bent fists, curved backs
Their hands stuck fast to the oars
The heart boils, the boat rushes
Cuts through the sea’s hard rolls.
Again they are right behind.

(The giant’s daughter):
Can the boat handle stronger wind?

She loosens the knot of deliv’rance
Wrath reaches Ilmarinen himself
The highest god’s main servant.
Squalls between the heavens to the east
Gusts of wind shake the mast
They tear and shred the sails.
The boat is tossed between billows.
The giant’s daughter seeks shelter
Closes her eyes and crawls
Down into the bottom of the boat.

The sunrise draws near.
The brothers have gone ashore
Are on the lookout for their sister.
The Sun’s rays melt them
Turn their foreheads to stone.

Can still be seen in Vågen
A copper boat in the mountain.

On skin of bear and young reindeer doe
Bride is transformed to a Sámi
Becomes a human in size.
And with an axe from her own chest
Her doors become wider
The room made larger.

To the Sun’s sons she then gave birth.