Monday, 18 February 2019

Peasant Pavo - John Ludvig Runeberg

’Mid the high, bleak moors of Saarijärvis
On a sterile farm, lived Peasant Pavo,
And its poor soil tilled with care untiring.
Trusting to the Lord to send the increase.
Here he lived with wife and little children.
With them of his sweat-earned bread partaking.
Dikes he dug, and ploughed his land and sowed it.
Spring-time came, and now the melting snow-drifts
Drenched the fields, and half the young crop perished:
Summer came, and the descending hail-storms
Dashed the early ears down, half destroying:
Autumn came, and frost the remnant blasted.

Pavo’s wife she tore her hair, and spake thus:
“Pavo, Pavo! man, the most unhappy,
Take thy staff; by God we are forsaken;
Hard it is to beg; to starve is harder!”
Pavo took her hand, and thus he answered:
“God doth try his servant, not forsake him.
Bread made half of bark must now suffice us!
I will dig the dikes of twofold deepness,
But from God will I await the increase!”
She made bread of corn and bark together;
He dug lower dikes, with double labour,
Sold his sheep, and purchased rye and sowed it
Spring-time came, again the melting snow-drifts
Drenched the fields, and half the young crop perished:
Summer came, and the descending hail-storms
Dashed the early ears down, half, destroying;
Autumn came, and frosts the remnant blasted!

Pavo’s wife, she smote her breast, exclaiming:
“Pavo, Pavo! man, the most unhappy,
Let us die, for God hath us forsaken!
Hard it is to die, to live is harder!”
Pavo took her hand, and thus he answered:
“God doth try his servant, not forsake him;
Bread made half of bark must still suffice us
I will dig the dikes of double deepness;
But from Heaven I will expect the increase!”
She made bread of corn and bark together;
He dug lower dikes with double labour;
Sold his cattle, purchased rye and sowed it.
Spring-time came, but now the melting snow-drifts
Left the young crops in the field uninjured:
Summer came, but the descending hail-storms
Dashed not down the rich ears, naught destroying:
Autumn came, and saw, by frost unblighted,
Wave the golden harvest for the reaper.

Then fell Pavo on his knees, thus speaking:
“God hath only tried us, not forsaken!”
On her knees his wife fell, and thus said she:
“God hath only tried us, not forsaken!”
And then gladly spake she to her husband:
“Pavo, Pavo ! take with joy the sickle;
We may now make glad our hearts with plenty.
Now may throw away the bark unsavoury,
And bake rich, sweet bread of ryemeal only!"

Pavo took her hand in his and answered:
“Woman, woman! ’t is but sent to try us.
If we will have pity on the sufferer,
Mix thou bark with corn even as aforetime,
Frosts have killed the harvest of our neighbour!”

John Ludvig Runeberg (1804 - 1877) Finland
Translator not given
Source: The Poets And Poetry Of Europe by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1887

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