THE END OF HERDING
Anon. (oral tradition)trans. Keith Bosley - from Lapp
Aannaa ge tjåhkaa sa gåådene
ndvhlieb nasstata,
nasstata, bdvssaa,
nasstata, bdvssaa.
Raangkk sa lij sa Ovla-vyelien spiadnuon nå-aa
jårramin, jårramin ja jårramin.
mij mannaa, vaadtsaa, vaarddale, vuolggaa.
Aannaa sjaahtsaa ndvhlieb,jårrahta, jårrahta,
båvssahta.
Gyelien vai le nieljjie vuovl, geh leh gihtjam.
Aaj uhtsie maanah lin vidden,
stuarasab dabbraanih.
Ungkkan, ungkkan sjnijrrah:
"Tjidtjadj, sjleevhkanah dab ama jaarvrraan,
sjleevhkanah dab ama jaavrraan!
Gudtjidj!"
Gyellie le dahkaar, gyellie le daahta, gyellie le daahk.
Ungkkan sjnijrrah, ungkkan sjnjijrrah:
"Sjleevhk ama jaavrraan, sjleevhk ama jaavrraan."
Ja, gyellie ja daahta.
Stuarra de lij giedj, stuarra de lij giedj.
Dabbraanij.
Mubbieh, mubbieh vaarrien viadtjadje,
gdvllen tjuindah gd, vyejnniet,
majnie leh ungkkan sjnjijrruomenie
sjnjijrruomenie, sjnjijrruomenie.
Gyh, mij lij gie, eah leh giedj suvvamen, suvvamen,
suvvamen.
Vyejnniet, vyejnniet,
kukktie dah lie dabbe,
gie lie, baara stuarra gyellen ååvruo,
gie lie, baara stuarra gyelien ååvruo,
stuarra gyelien ååvruo.
Men de gehrjub vid:
buarab leh Stuara-vyelien ja Ovla-vyelien raangkk.
Ovia-vyelien raangkk leh buarab.
Vaardah sa tejhkie: uvmasah staallaahkah,
staallaahkah,
tjyesehkah, jeavjahkah,
skyellahkah, saandahkah,
saalbahkah, saandahkah.
saalbahkah Ovla-vyelien
spiadnuon, spiadnuon, spiadnuon,
spiadnuon, Ovla-vyelvien
spiandnuon.
Ovla-vyelien spiadnuoh nuv lieh dah ge veerreh,
veereh sij ged, veerreh sij ged.
............
............
Anna is sitting in the tent
stirring the embers, stirring and puffing.
On Ovlafell's glacier the reindeer
are running, running, around -
they walk, they trot, they look, they move away.
Anna is poking the embers,
turning them over, puffing.
There are four fish-holes, the children
are gathered round them. A fish has been caught.
The children whimper: 'Mamma,
throw it back, throw it back!'
'But it's a fish,
a fish!' But still they whimper: 'Throw it back!'
It is a big fish too.
The others hear their cries, run up to see
why the children are whimpering.
whimpering.
So that is why:
they are afraid, afraid of the big fish.
But then I understand:
how much better the reindeer on Greatfell,
on Ovlafell! Just look at them, so many -
speckled, white-browed, pale grey, snow-white.
their antlers branchy, high and smooth
the reindeer on Ovlafell's glacier,
the glacier, Ovlafell's glacier.
Dangerous up there, where I have many reindeer
and others have too - dangerous
because of the great poisoin, Ovlafell's poison,
its sickness which my reindeer, my handsome reindeer
have sucked, absorbed. Like others I have stood
where Greatfell's great river, its poisoned river,
and Ovlafell's dangerous glacier
have scattered, scattered my herd, my handsome herd.
Well, that is how I see it, see it, see ...
And now I have grown old, my reindeer
my handsome reindeer are no more -
wild bucks, speckled, pale grey, white-browed,
their antlers branchy, high, beasts that ranged free
when I was herding, on Ovlafell
when I was busy up there on the glacier.
Down here, down here
someone is sitting, in the tent
puffing the embers, stirring, puffing -
just the two of us with our memories
and all that we have done
forgotten now that we are old.



From The Great Bear, an anthology of Finno-Ugrian oral poetry. This typically
repetitive Lappish "joiku" collected in 1953 is the lament of a reindeer herder
forced to become a fisherman. It has become topical again since Chernobyl.

Trans. Copyright © Keith Bosley - with acknowledgements to the Finnish Literature Society


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