poesi

Din overskrift

If you are looking for short, super-short or extra super-short poetry, please read the titles of my pictures. 

The following is a long epic story written in English to make the world outside aware of the treats to Sámi (Lapp) culture and homeland, in this case the hydro-electric dams in Sápmi, Northern Sweden: LULEJU

Din overskrift

LULEJU

a poem by Elle-Hánsa

*

  

LULEJU

FIVE FRIENDS IN MEMORIAN

 

            EPITAPH

 

            To five faithful friends of my people

         This dream is dedicated

         To celebrate their loving memory

         For generations to come:

         RUOHTJ AJÁVRI

         LUOKTANJÁRGAJÁVRI

         RÁIVOJÁVRI

         VUOKSAJÁVRI

         SUORVAJÁVRI

 

                           *

 

Written at Laakese, Sápmi            26. - 30.12. 1977,

revised            01. - 07. 01. 1978.

and Tj áskil, Leavnnjas, "             09.07.  1978.




I         

         What is more joyous

         more healthy and happy

         than a boisterous mountain-brook

         in the heartland of old SÁPMI. [1]

         fresh and free

         since the first Day of the Earth

         sane and sound, yes:

         what is more healing to the human soul

         when it is overtroubled

         coping with suffering and sorrow,

         than the cleansing song of a stream?

 

         And when it swells to a mighty river

         with shouts of joy and laughter

         jump fearless down the hills

         over stones and rocks

         spraying the happy herbs on its rim

         with a shower of sunblessed dew-drops,

         the waterfalls invite the strong salmon

         to challenge the stream's fall downwards

         with a mighty jump upwards,

         till it finds rest in a lake

         this most sacred spot of calm solitude,

         mating ground and cradle for many a creature

         playground and home for all the fry,

         parents love to see happy children

         make the lake their life's delight.

         The brook, once so small

         now proudly carries its living wealth

         to the next lake, then another,

         five in all, and between

         the mild murmur

         and rushing rustle of the river,

         a song of love for Creation!

 

         The Luleju [2] River and its lakes

         give birth and support many a being,

         a beautiful birch-forest

         soon adorn the banks.

         The animals of our ancient land

         found refuge and feed for life

         in the safe shelter of this forest,

         their thirsty tongues

         were quenched and comforted by its waters,

         the sacred springs of SÁPMI,

         the blood and life of our land.

 

         O my people, who season after season

         show such true gratitude

         in faithfully serving

         the balance and creative cyclus

         of a strong but sensitive land!

         A land full of fruits and riches

         for those wise enough to share.

         The wealth of our Sámi homeland

         is more edible and useful

         to creatures seeking for nourishment

         than is silver and golden power,

         because it is cared for

         in such a way that it reproduces itself

         by means of the secret Master-code

         hidden in the first germ-cell of the Universe.

 

         Never take more than you need

         and your children's children will bless you,

         because you have gained such enduring wisdom.

         M o r e  is the curse of modern times

         in those days, even in suffering, we could sing.

 

         yes. a love-song indeed was this bound to be,

         but damned! the devil is also here!

         Hush, my brook, not so loudly and free,

         don't let them hear your sanssouçi   !

        

         *

 

 

II

         A foreigner, a king in another's kingdom

         walks on the old path by the lakes,

         steps aside it, stops, take notes and numbers.

         He is a field-officer from royal Stockholm

         where his masters have made him

         proud of his job:

         the use of advanced apparatus to measure

         the levels of lakes on maps and paper,

         so easy to handle those expensive tools

         almost like playing with children's toys,

         he smiles taking down another figure

         for the big industrial progress.

         The "wilderness" of "Lappland"

         have been found fit to pay

         for those who foot in the frontline

         of the World's greatest wonder since the sun:

         The Industrial Revolution and Progress,

         Electricity, Hydro-electric Power!

         The power of Nature, at last

         is under command of the mind of Man,

         man needs more light in his leisure, too,

         which politician dares deny that?

         The lakes in the "wilderness of Lappland"

         the potent falls of its rivers

         shall and must be dammed, and out

         of these five little lakes

         shall there come more:

         a   b i g   one.

         Another number in his notebook:

         at school he was the best in his class in accountancy.

 

         But what is this, we make him an evil,

         he   i s   not the devil. He is just one

         of the many who has got a job to do

         of which he in particular is even very proud.

         Though pride never understood the poor,        

         behind him are all the millions uninformed

         and all that money, he has

         just a promille [3] -part in it all,

         the responsibility is not his, therefore

         and who is to blame? The dam

         will and must be built,

         who can stop the Progress?

 

         Yes, who will stop it? and he does

         for a short while, and gazes in amazement

         at the sudden beauty of the landscape.

        

         Even if swift clouds, carried by the wind

                  in this day of destiny for this valley

         cast heavy shadows and hastily sweeps

                  the protesting waves of the lakes,

         and the rush of the leaves

                  in a sudden outburst of the gale

         blaming the stream for being so gay

                  to continue its song of a happy paradise

         when such a day as this has come ––––

                  the Sun suddenly strikes the Earth,

         powerful rays make clear its authumn-clothes,

                  the land wakes up with glistening colours

         so powerful like flames of fire!

                  quickly moves across the moor

         just like a warning, then it is over,

                  the shadows now sleep where the fire burned

         the red and yellow heather have turned into ashes.

 

                  But in the shadow of a raincloud

                  with the mysterious background

                  of lofty Áhkavárri-mountain

                  lifted over ashes and flames

                  millions of airy waterdrops

                  made by the sun into radiant diamonds,

                  the rainbow.

                                    God's own poem and promise to Creation:

                  Never will I punish Humanity again

                  like this, with a deadly, drowning water-flood!

 

         *

 

         Unable to notice such inspiration

         unable to heed such wonderful warning

         the expert takes no numbers down;

         even though his tools are intricate

         with his advanced apparatus he can not

         come even near to the rainbow

         nor grasp it's treasured secrets.

         All he does is to put up an umbrella

         to shelter himself and his instruments

         from rain of the sky and rays of the sun.

         As he hurries back homewards

         to his portable, synthetic nylon-tent

         (the first to be used in Sweden)

         to get ready to leave for Stockholm

         never to come back, he hopes,

         he passes the siida [4]   of a Sámi family

         they are not in, not even a dog

         to stop him, if he would steal:

         the old-fashioned fishing-boat

         seems ready for a try on the lakes,

         a trip into the midnight sun

         "Oh what a wonderful life they live!" he says

         while we must go here toiling in worry –

         oh yes, I must remember to mail that letter

         telling them to prepare for the future!

 

         As he goes to bed with his trophy

         a reindeer-horn he found

         left alone without a head,

         he dreams of his wife and their children

         yet not born, if they shall have any at all.

         "I wonder if they will like

         my Lappland souvenir I'll bring

         the proud horn and antler

         of a real reindeer from Lappland!

         I'm sure they will, he says, almost sleeping.

 

         *

 

 

III

         The old goahti, [5] shelter of many a trustful time

         of happiness-sharing between Sámi families,

         simple, but true as the mountains themselves

         welcomes its wandering people.

         Young and old alike  love the warmth

         that comes from the hearth of a goahti,

         listen to the thrilling tales and tremendous story

         of a tribe surviving in scanty arctic

         for more than ten thousand polar winters.

 

         With the very fire that gives warmth and light

         in the gloomy time of arctic night

         the Sámi people have survived

         together with it

         through the centuries that went and came.

 

         Sometimes the flame was almost extinguished

         but even the most feeble flame

         or the most humble and faint smoke

         told its story of a stubborn fighting glow

         deep inside the hearth of my people.

         With this little child inside our small body

         carried through the centuries

         we were able to keep close together

         families united in a Sámi siida,

         where parents are equal partners

         in carrying out responsibility for all,

         where the oldest and youngest were not isolated

         but willingly took their share of the work

         to tend and cultivate a heritage of traditions

         laws developed since olden ages

         to protect and care for a living land

         life to make others live.

         All over SÁPMI the faithful siidas

         were the very guarantee and security

         for the heritage and health

         of this part of our irreplaceable hemisphere.

 

         This little glow of simple love

         for the Creator and his work of art

         Creation and all its creatures,

         this spark of eternal joy

         carried us over

         the dangerous cracks of glaciers

         over the icy uproaring streams

         across the desolate desertlike plains

         or the death-sucking swamplands in between,

         in to the safety of a well-built goahti

         a turf-hut, a tent cleverly constructed

         cool in the heat of a summer day,

         warm and close and cosy in the frost of winter.

         The glowing sparks from the crackling fire

         run upwards through its open ceiling

         followed by the laughter from ancient folktales

         humour and wisdom so masterly combined,

         stars lifted high above the siida

         sent to be seen

         like they want to tell the world outside:

                 

                  We are here

                  we survive,

                  the Sámi people of the North,

                  Come in and share

                  our happy hours

                  stay, they are so short,

                  before the burden

                  of daily duty

                  call us all to take our share

                  in caring for our Earth

                  and each other!

 

         *

 

 

IV

         Morning comes, awakened with the spirit of dawn

         the people prepare to continue their work,

         not just like a job, this is their life.

 

         Most of the siida-people

         go healthy and fit to the reindeer-flock

         to train a trek-animal

         or mark the clever calves

         that escaped the swift suohpan, [6] the lasso

         of the quickest herder

         since last time in the gárdi [7]

         where the mixed flocks now are gathered

         shouts and the constant run in a circle

         the flock demonstrate its freedom

         with sharp sounds of their sinews

         as they all run to escape the sharper eyes

         of the siida-isit, [8] the owner

         looking for his particular part.

 

         Suddenly a look leads into action

         fast as a flash he throws his suohpan

         ropes a silver-swift bull-to-be,

         it is stubborn, but at last

         they manage to hold it down

         while the sharp knife

         makes the necessary marks in its ears

         to separate it from the other beasts

         and make it a part of their eallu, [9] their life

         "better this" thinks the youngling

         as it relieved runs away,

         than being between the teeth of a wolf

         or caught in the claws of a mighty eagle

         or swallowed alone by a cleft between rocks.

         Here I am not alone".

 

         *

 

 

V

         Now is the time when night begins

         to grow and compete with the day.

         One early morning in the mystic mood of twilight

         Siida-isit goes out of the goahti

         earlier than the others, for some reason,

         maybe he should repair the fish-nets now

         examining them carefully.

         He holds the well-worn net

         so neatly tied by trained hands,

         this net have brought us many a meal

         now its threads are broken

         and in the middle of a big gap,

         won't be winked at: But ho! What is that he sees:

         Through the hole of his net

         a dead fish is floating on top of the lake

         white side up as to show its innocence

         that this is no suicide,

         and around it a few leaves and a flower.

 

         The family father throws away the broken net

         and rushes to the rim of the lake

         but splashes in water before he reach it.

         So wet here, and it hasn't rained tonight,

         did it rain tonight, my son? No, says the son

         just arriving his home,

         proudly holding two ptarmigans up

         "at least I got  some in my giella, [10] my snare"

         he smiles as he goes in.

         He has been out watching all night

         the reindeer-herd for wolves,

         longs for a smiling meal.

         Not will that smile last long, thinks his father

         as he intend to send him as soon as possible

         to the far away village, to its office

         and ask some of the O at [11] there

         what the foreigners have done

         to our clean and pure food-chamber,

         what happened to the lake!

         Last time when they came from the mountains

         he couldn't see or feel anything strange

         except the usual sound of small waves

         talking the language of sleeping well.

 

         Maybe they were so tired after hard work

         of three days and nights out in the open,

         it was dark, the autumn is already in power.

         Now he is almost afraid of these signs

         will there be less of the smiling meals?

         Such signs, - the old people didn't tell about it,

         has he ever heard of dirty water and dead fish

         at the same time: some catastrophic accident

         among the beings in the bottom of the lake?

         He looks at the lake and the floating fish,

         so unnatural, then a hasty hawk comes to catch it

         but ere his claws touch the water surface

         it turns away and flies back to the mountain.

 

         Certainly something is rotten and wrong,

         he must look into it later, but now

         they shout from the goahti: get some food.

         He walks inside with slow, heavy steps,

         then as he smells the tempting scents

         of a well-prepared tasty meal of nature

         he reminds himself with a smile:

         "Well  this time the hawk won't have his meal,

         but I most certainly will!"

 

         *

 

 

VI

         Autumn-winter means much hard work;

         the reindeer-mothers with their calves

         must be kept aside from the rutting bulls,

         now is the time to milk and make cheese,

         after the meal the whole siida goes to work.

         On his way to the herd siidaisit thinks

         what might have happened to the lakes of his land,

         and will later, to the creatures in and around.

 

         Then he sees far away two strong reindeer-males

         with impressive big horns

         fight with each other head to head

         horn clatter against horn,

         two bulls are fiercely fighting for control

         and the respect of the females.

         Who will win her territory

         and proudly issue the mating call?

         Or will they both die this day of the fight

         because they are fighting each other?

         New worries have come into the heart

         of siidaisit, as he goes further.

         During the work, which he almost can do blindly

         he wonders what all those new signs mean.

 

         *

 

 

VII

         While all the adults have gone to the mountain

         even some of the children follow them,

         the oldest áhkku, [12] too weak for their work

         yet what a wealth of wisdom in her eyes

         to support and strengthen the hearts

         of hopeful broods yet unhatched,

         she sits outside her tent

         watching the youngest have fun.

         while some fine handwork keep her fingers busy.

         Through the laughter and shouts of the children

         she remembers her days of the past

         and nights keeping watch over the herd

         on the white mountain-plateau, the duottar [13]

         high above the forest line, orda [14]

         with nothing else to keep her company

         than the stars, sometimes the moon

         lighting so softly the resting herd

         even the dogs sound asleep on the snow,

         what a thrill in her body

         as she could witness such solitude

         and the ghostlike guovsahasat, [15] the northern lights

         pursuing itself in a flight for rest

         would send waves of mystical wonder

         shiver as an echo in her soul.

         She would pray them not to touch her.

         Then on the sound of a wolf she would shout back

         to keep the fear away with a howl

         and when that just made many howls appear

         she would yoik a luohti [16] with gentler sounds

         if the beasts might have a hearing heart

         it would certainly appeal to it:_

         Do not take from our little flock,

         it is the only we have for life!

 

         She would remember a happy person in another siida

         and yoik his luohti, this person

         later became her husband.

         Now he is dead, and she sings his song, his luohti

         silently for herself

         can almost see and feel his presence,

         those wise, old eyes blessing her age.

 

         The children love her too,

         they are busy with games they love to play.

         But unlike certain games in this world

         theirs have a purpose, a natural plan.

         their game is a training for adult activities.

         They test their skill

         in catching each other while running

         with the suohpan, the lasso rope.

         They play as children who aim to grow

         not like some  who plays for pleasure of playing

         whether he is a child or not.

         The dominating materialism of modern society

         produce people who never learnt in childhood

         that all, even play  have a purpose to serve.

         Therefore all they do nowadays

         becomes less than children's play

         in their official adult society.        

         Nature and nature's creatures, its people

         become like toys in their hand.

         Their running the world

         is a threat to its security and survival,

         they're like a gang of rascals

         disobeying their Father

         playing with paper, pistols and puppets

          an infantile struggle, a game of power

         of who's the strongest

         in a world where people need peace!

 

         *

 

 

VIII

         Áhkku, áhkku ! shouts from afar,

         the grandson is returning from the village:

         a letter has come, a letter from the capital!

         As he breathless gives it to áhkku

         she says jokingly to him:

         This is certainly not for you or me,

         no love-letter is this!

         No, says the boy, it is from Stockholm,

         from the Royal Hydroelectric Department,-

         almost proud of his pronunciation,

         what does it say?

         No, answers áhkku, we must wait

         till father comes home, it's for him.

        

         As they all come home from the mountain

         the shocking script gathers the whole siida

         like was it a religious meeting.

         With difficulty they get through its foreign language

         but its intention is clear enough

         like thunderclash from an awesome lightening flash:

                  We have to move, disappear

                  the rivers are dammed,

                  the lake will grow bigger

                  overflow it's banks.

         "Move your homes further up a bit,

         prepare for the future!"

 

         In the letter is stated

         that this is the second warning,

         but the first letter

         was never received, did it disappear?

         The expert only knows.

 

         Mii fertet jávkat, [17] we disappear, asks áhkku,

         but what about them, the children?

         The father can give no answer,

         he has to ask the river, our lake.

         Now he understands the dead fish

         and all the dirt on its level.

         Will they kill all the fish,

         our future, our children?

 

         *

 

 

IX

         What happens to a child

         if in rage you punish and beat it

         even if it is innocent of your guilt?

         You cause physical pain, and worse

         it becomes a victim of psychic terror,

         words that you have invented for yourself,

         mental disturbances

         hardly ever to achieve balance any more.

         Cut off a finger, cut off a foot,

         will there come a new one?

         Like this you turn off for life

         Nature's creative progress.

 

         They have amputed me, my land,

         our lifegiving rivers

         meant to fill the needs

         of coming generations

         have now to feed the robots, the generators!

         This is done to my body, my land

         to our own dearest mother!

         They even ask and expect us to forget

         the crimes and injustices that have passed.

         But how can you forget an amputed arm

         if that was the one you brought  or food

         to your hungry children with?

         A distant but disturbed childhood

         can not be pushed aside with words ,

         the need for an arm will always be there

         because it is not where it should be.

        

         An official annihilation of the right to live

         for us, whose destiny, like that of all

         is unavoidable death, but even that has its timing.

 

         We do not have an infinity of time to take from.

         While you enjoy in self-conceited security

         what you hold for a lasting happiness

         the amputated body is back with all the problems.

         It won't take long, shall this continue

         before the last Sámi looks himself in the eyes

         in the mirror of a doomed lake

         that swallowed his people, and now wants him, too.

         More, more, isn't that the word?

 

         *

 

 

X

         A shadow has been cast over the siida

         like a mighty curse sways its hearths.

         Asked to move they can't realize the truth,

         but the dam doesn't wait for them

         and water grows and flow into the goahti.

         In painful resignation they take out what they can

         another site has to be found,

         but there is no other lake they have.  (lake once friend, now enemy)

         So a new goahti is built

         quickly but with quality and skill.

         It is good that our homes

         in this shadowful world

         are moveable and easy to build,

         not like the palaces of foreign kings

         where once built only a war can remove them.

         Much care goes into the work,

         this will be the home for the whole family

         where young and old and all between

         respect each other's individuality.

         In a goahti even the dog is welcome

         to share the warmth and the food

         after sharing a hard days work.

         That night (when work is done)all sleep well,

         now even the wolf and the eagle

         are friends of the Sámi people.

         What is their taking of reindeer calves

         for the need and feed of their young ones

         to the greedy beasts of a fish

         that will swallow five innocent small ones!

         But now, silence, --- sleep well!

 

         *

 

 

XI

         Not many meals have they been able to enjoy

         in their new-built turf-huts

         when the expert from Stockholm suddenly appears.

         Leaving behind the manners of Swedish sociability

         he walks right in without knock or notice,

         with a smile this time, not paying heed to their surprise:

         "Oh, what a nice knife you've working on there,

         how much does it cost?"

         "I don't know" says the father, "yet."

         "Well you see when I left

         this land of the midnight sun

         the only thing I got from here as souvenir

         was a worn old reindeer-horn left alone

         superfluous in this land of plenty,

         I took it home, but they wanted something else.

         So I thought I should buy some handicraft.

         My neighbour in Stockholm, by the way,

         he is second in command in the iron-enterprise of Giron,¨

         he has got a guksi [18] in which he has

         a lot of arrogant pride, I can't be worse off, can I,

         how much do I have to pay, my goodness

         what a wellshaped sheath!"

        

         What is this, thinks áh ?? i , [19]

         he want to pay ere the product is clear?

         "You can have it", says the father,

         no need to pay," and gives it to him,

         "taking our land you can take this too."

         "O thank you" says the expert

         admiring the almost finished work,

         "I am in a hurry, have to leave today."

         Áhkku whispers to the giver: "One should never

         give away a knife, according to what the old ones said."

         "Oh, it doesn't matter, he says back:

         what shall we do with traditions

         when they have taken away our land?"

 

         The expert, content putting the gift in pocket,

         "Just one more thing, before I leave:

         This letter is for you; that's all I can pay with."

         "What? a letter, for me? From who?"

         I am sorry, says the expert, I have to say

         it's from the Royal Hydroelectric Department...

         "But we have already moved."

         "Well you see, the dam is too small

         didn't fulfil the expectations,

         some underestimated calculations

         have made it unfit out of fashion already.

         We must think of our responsibility

         of building up an industry

         this country must be strong enough

         to compete in that matter, too

         with powerful competitors

         like Germany and Great Britain and others, many others."

         "But what has that do do with us."

 

         "Well, you see", continues the expert

         in a milder tone, but gaining in weight:

         "You will have to move again."

         "Again" almost shouts the siida-isit,

         Maid dat dá O a dadjá, [20] asks áhkku .

         she does not understand the language.

         "Yes... further...into the future."

 

         The siida people are too shocked to protest,

         in a persuasive manner

         the convinced expert continues:

         "How can you, after all

         go on living like this?

         I am sure because of lack of hygienic conditions

         the death-rate of your children

         must be quite high

         because they are not kept clean,

         I mean, you have no wrappings

         on your food, just eat it the way it is,        

         straight from nature, maybe

         you do not even wash your hands!

         Can't you see what time we live in,

         how new and proper demands rightfully

         have entered the scene of natural life,

         and with the help of modern technology

         the future is ours, isn't it?

         We who have made up this land

         worked steadily on it for ages

         it's advanced society, it's culture,

         the future is certainly in our very fist!"

 

         As the audience neither curses nor praises his sermon

         but gaze with troublesome eyes and trembling hearts

         at him, he goes on explaining:

         "I know this can't be easy for you,

         but is it better that millions of homes

         in this our Swedish homeland

         shall be without electricity and power,

         not to speak of all the factories

         that produce all the things that we need

         for our daily well-being."

         As he pauses to get some breath

         his eyes fall on a little girl outside

         where there are no houses

         nor any factories needing electricity,

         she plays with some sticks

         making up a reindeer-herd out of them,

         (blocking his vision of bored Swedish rascals in contrast

         to the happy and natural intelligence of this girl)

         and he goes on:"Of course here in the wilderness

         you might think such power is not needed,

         but maybe one day Civilization

         will take pity on these poor scanty areas.

         I am sure it will come here, too

         one fine day. Without this dam

         there would be no toys for the children,

         kettles for the housewifes

         or magazines for the men,

         no sewing-machines or aeroplanes

         with which we can reach unlimited lands!

         Well, our daily work is so hard

         so boring and demanding

         we need more leisure

         and more interesting tools

         games to use up our freehours,

         all the things that we have longed to own.

 

         And I want you to know this: I myself

         tried to ask for more time

         so that you shouldn't need

         to move in such a hurry.

         I even proposed a little sum of money

         a kind of compensation, a help, but no.

         You know, they are hard on it

         those business men down there.

         They brushed aside my objections

         like the ashes from their cigars:

         "Those tiny lapp.dwellings

         they are the smallest price paid

         for such a promising power-project,

         this is Sweden, not their land:

         You must show some harder stuff

         if you want to stop the Swedish Steal [21] !"

         Even I wanted to open up

         a shop up here, but I have to wait

         till next year, they're hard, aren't they?

         I hope to be a shopkeeper who sells and buys,

         maybe even your neighbour. Therefore

         to be proper I would like to pay

         for this beautiful product,"

         pointing to his pocket-bulge

         where the knife can be seen.

         As he places some coins and a paper-note

         on the floor, he silently says goodbye

         and walks away like before.

         When he can still be seen

         one of the daughters of the siida

         silently whispers, as to herself:

                  The lake and the land

                  don't like you as you walk there,

                  they don't love your approach

                  like they love us and trust our steps.

                  Even the trees are trembling with fear  (/unrest)

                  when you come with your boasting-machines.

                  You think you are clean, but

                  the dirt is doubled

                  wherever you touch the earth.

                  And what is death but a friend

                  if we honestly serve without shame

                  our God-given purpose and each other!

         The oldest son is more angry than in sorrow:

         "Had we not given the knife

         I don't know what i then would have done!"

         Some of the children are crying,

         but áhkku is the one who tries

         to cheer all the others up;

         she has gone through this before,

         kept many a wolf away:

         "Maybe we should ask him if he has time

         to mend our broken fishing-nets!"

 

         *

 

 

XII

         Another silent night is disturbed

         by the bullying busyness of the bulldozers,

         mocking the purity of Mother Earth,

         naked noise exhibited here

         in the kingdom of sweet and pleasant peace,

         through destroying only constructing

         a new road, the broad way of no silence.

         Disgusting  roars dirty the air

         that once was the home of happier songs,

         hell has come to Sámi land!

         nursed by lust and liquids

         from deep down under the depth of darkness,

         spreads its sickening songs

         through the incredible magic of boosting batteries.

 

         Look at the rivers, even the eagle

         refuses to eat its dying fish

         its waters polluted with dangerous poison.

         Those who dare to take the juices of growth

         from their natural connection with life

         be prepared for their revenge,

         as they turn into death-bringing tissue,

         when the smallest are killed even by its smell.

         The artificial lake grows so unnaturally large,

         like an ill-natured, untimely tumor

         spreading its sepsis all over the body,

         our earth is infected

         and who can ever cleanse it from this sin?

 

         The silvery beauty of the trees is attacked,

         the birch-forest, unprepared

         does not know its own drowning

         until it is too late for rescue.

         The lust waters magically made

         from a friend to a fearsome foe,

         creep up and lick the white stems of the birches,

         steal their simple pride and beauty

         stripping them of their last protection

         deprive them of their chance to serve creation,

         rape them till the result is death,

         and they fall for the power of a dammed lake

         designed for self-indulgent forgetting of facts:

         These trees can never be used

         to build another Ark for Noah!

 

         Some are pulled down by powerful machines

         man wants to show himself

         and the God he thinks he has killed

         who is now the Lord of Nature,

         and who the conquered losers are.

         And many are their falls

         as the motors utter ugly howls.

         But to the driver they are like music

         with selfish pride beating all morality,

         stopping the birds in the middle of their singing.

         But beware! you proud one

         run by your greed and lust:

         Stop the machine which carry you along,

         stop it, and listen!

         Look up. Look down, and all around:

         if you are honest and listen enough

         you will hear

         from the depth of drowning lakes

         even the stones will tell you the truth.

 

         *

 

 

XIII

         As a result  of the small lakes

         being swallowed by a big one

         the siida has split into smaller pieces.

         The other goahtis are already drowned

         their families found it too hard

         and moved with their herds away

         to other poorer parts of old Sámiland,

         or they have, as the dá<a would say "got a job"

         to keep the Swedish society floating

         on top of the hopes of all others,

         so that those may have something to look up at.

 

         *

 

 

XIV

         Áhkku sits alone outside her goahti,

         trustfully watching the ancient land of her race.

         The look of a drowning landscape

         and the unnatural appearance

         of an artificial lake

         cannot bring forth in her soul

         any vibration of happiness or joy.

         She lifts her eyes up to the mountains,

         rugged rocks and mighty cliffs

         when shall you too fall?

         Her eyes meet the horizon

         where land and sky kiss and depart,

         beyond the lovely plains of her childhood,

         she is thinking of the handsome past.

        

         And as she pauses for a moment

         in her work with her handloom

         she wonders when her youngest grandson will come

         so that she can give these shoe-ribbons

         and a pair of neat little gápmagat [22]

         she is making for his unborn child.

         He is married to a rivgu [23]

         but the baby will be her great grandchild,

         no-one can deny that.

         So she yoiks an old luohtti

         to accompany her old, trembling hands

         as they serve the bright-coloured woollen treads

         with such care and love and hope:

                  You heavy and slow

                  pregnant of spring

                  now is the time to get along

                  at a jog and trot

                  valla ne ne ne na na na ne ne ne ...

                  set off at a trot

                  to the tree-clad valley

                  and the lichen of the stones

                  ve velle na. [24]

         She yoiks the pregnant female reindeer

         to come to the tree-clad valleys

         of the now drowning Luoktanjárgajávri.

         They are ready to give birth

         to a new generation of hopeful beings.

         How long will they be able

         to bear their young ones

         as a thanksgiving gift

         to the land that is their own mother

         and once made them grow since childhood,

         a sacrifice to the Creator of Life?

        

         Next spring perhaps the forest is gone,

         and the flood will force the mothers to move

         further, away, over the tree-line

         where no forest protect them

         or their tenderly shaking calves

         from icecold winds or attacking beasts

         of the unprotected nakedness of the mountains.

        

         Suddenly she hears the humming sound

         like it was a huge, buzzing horsefly.

         Her old eyes can barely see

         something approaching from distance,

         a black spot running on the lake's surface,

         like a foreign, overgrown insect,

         she almost goes inside the goahti for shelter,

         oh, it is them! The voice of her grandson

         can be heard through all the buzz, it is them!

         As the motor-boat come closer

         shouts of joy from the young ones

         greet their old grandmother.

 

         After the meal and many a smile

         they talk of days gone, and then

         she comes with the present for the unborn child

         a beautiful pair of gálluhat

         sámi moccasins of whitest reindeer-fur

         and handwoven ribbons to tie them

         to the baby's lovely little feet.

         May those be its comfort

         for the first step in its life,

         those steps are the most important.

 

         Oh, thank you, says the father-to-be,

         that's too much of a gift.

        

         Not at all, says áhkku, I'm the grandmother

         and soon I'll become the great one, she laughs.

         When do you expect it to come?

 

         Not in another month, says her grandson, thinking:

         I wonder, once my baby is born

         what kind of world it will be.

         It certainly will not behold

         the birch-forest of our beloved valley,

         the once so lovely waters of its lively lakes.

         Certainly not, and the young ones now

         are in schools most of the year,

         where they learn the manners of their masters.

         And their parents go to work

         in the mines or in the power-stations.

         Who would think that possible

         when in the past we so strongly protested?

         But it is like this dam of theirs,

         the dam of development,

         that is a word they often use.

         Like magic it makes those who are

         accustomed and content with old traditions

         flow over with new demands.

         Who can stop it, once it has got

         one of its feet on our land,

         a stone from the sacred arran [25] is stolen,

         the centre of the siida, its circle is broken,

         soon the whole siida will be gone.

        

         These thoughts he don't dare to air,

         his rivgo wife is there,

         they fall like leaves to the bottom of the lake.

         She looks smilingly at the gift from áhkku,

         is just about to put it away,

         when her husband takes a last look at them:

         "What use will those be to you, my baby

         in the halls of the Swedish cities

         where the floors are colder than ice

         even harder than stone.

         Will you ever even see a goahti,

         or run with soft-dressed feet

         blessed by the eager care of áhkku, free

         like a joyous little reindeer calf

         over the sunglowing mountains of our land,

         or will you rush the slippery streets of Stockholm?"

         He has tears in his eyes, let's go says his wife,

         but áhkku doesn't listen to them.

         She gazes with longing eyes

         at those beautiful plateaus

         where she used to watch her flock

         for foes or angry beasts.

         her grandson is just about to tell her

         that they'll have to move the goahti once more,

         but hesitates as he hears the beauty and sorrow

         of her timid, trembling voice

         evoking many a memory with her,

         once again she's áhkku, the one and only wise one:

                  I would yoik

                  while I tended the reindeer

                  I yoiked on the slopes

                  where I watched.

                  Vele velev  velev velev  vele velev...

                  I would yoik ...

                  velev vele velev ...

                  nenne  nanna ...

 

         *

 

 

XV

         The electrical power is not everlasting,

         the greedy growth of industry

         the increasing turmoil of superfluous things

         depend on direct exploitation

         of resources that always have to be new.

         But say, my friends, what will you do

         when all the batteries are gone?

 

         In royal Stockholm it is decided

         that a film shall be made

         from the land of the lost lakes

         before it is all changed

         and too late for the complicated camera

         a record for History to consider

         the right and wrongs of humanity.

         If they can.  A loaded team is flown up there

         to film the land on remembering ribbons.

         The leader of the team is young,

         yet for his age he has gone through a lot:

         Married to his friend's best wife,

         then divorced, and married again

         to his art: the making of films, not love.

         On the last stage, however, of their journey

         the batteries don't work in a proper way.

 

         They have to wait for new ones

         hurredly to be sent from Stockholm,

         because up here no electricity

         can charge its silent sleep. Lazy rascal!

         And how in the world

         do they survive up here

         without batteries or any thing else,

         is the comment.  It is rather cool now, too.

         A snowstorm in the Arctic summer

         don't bother about such petty worries,

         but keep them inside waiting

         with enough time to think of it.

 

         the leader has made up his mind,

         don't want to give in for a storm!,

         he wants to make that film.

         What he never got in excitement

         with his daring dance with life

         as he took from others their women,

         he tries now to catch on film:

         The lasting joy of holding happiness,

         nostalgic dreams of a fantasy-land.

 

         When the storm is over and the stage is clear

         he gets down to his work.  And he's clever.

         Clever enough to avoid the worst

         of the destruction-work of the dam.

         Else it would be a theatre of death.

         He leaves the scene half and content.

         For far in the future years afterwards

         they will send his film in a TV-program

         and say perhaps:"How well they did their duty,

         to preserve that valley for History

         Europe's last wilderness on film

         for every generation to come.

         The world should be grateful for that!"

         Isn't it?

        

         *

 

 

XVI

         This is the story of life and death

         of five of our mother's children.

         When shall it end, or will it go on forever:

         is the justifying of such injustice

         tolerable into eternity, too?

 

         There is a new nameless lake

         in old Sápmi, the land of our ancestors,

         who named each part of it

         as if they were their close relatives.

         But this one is a foreigner, not even a lake,

         although Dá<a has given a name for his device:

         Áhkajaure is the artificial name

         after the mountain nearby

         as if it from now on was selected superfluously.

         That lake, no, not a lake, that thing it is

         has already begun to act

         according to its education:

         kills and swallows reindeer, even people

         on it's deadly surface of ice.

         The water under this tricky decoration

         is needed now and then by the name-masters.

         So they empty it a bit any time

         for the industry needs some more power

         from the generators it is meant to serve.

         And the snow-covered surface

         suddenly cracks and breaks down

         swallows whatever is on it.

         No sign of warning  no fence of protection

         requests for compensation is not crowned at all

         like was it just meant as a big joke.

 

         Ageless Áhkavárri has to witness all of it,

         but wish to turn away in shame

         on their behalf who have caused it:

         the merciless flood fills its destiny

         lick the walls of the last goahti,

         which one in succession it does not know,

         mountains seldom can count,

         but so can the stars, small but so many.

         the hungry waves attack the walls

         they are proud of their powerless prey

         extinguish the fire of its hearth

         applauding its funeral pyre.

        

         Áhkku is sent to an institutional home for the aged,

         an old people's house in the town miles away,

         according to the wish of her relatives

         who had to give in for stronger press.

         The fourth and last move of her goahti

         became too much even for youth's excellent spirits.

         The newspapers called her stubborn and stupid

         to want to resist victorious progress,

         they put her in a bed;  robbed of her homeland

         she has no more power to resist.

 

         The room is as dark as the sun is bright,

         as closed as the sky is wide.

         The air is thick as a lake,

         no breeze in her nose

         no sun on her cheek

         to tell her that spring has come.

 

         *

 

 

XVII

         Dull days of darkness inside

         out of reach of the blessings and beauty

         of a bright-shining midnight-sun.

 

         Into her room comes instead

         the expert from the Electrical Power Dpt.

         The film is finished, he tells,

         but does not waste any explanation on her,

         she won't understand anyway, he thinks.

         Instead he has brought her a colour picture

         of the dam and the big lake.

         Seeing it she sighs, and says in a sad way:

         "Vuoi, my lakes, where have you gone,

         my sisters, where have you gone to sleep?

         Tell me, where is my Ruoh ? ajávri,

         where is Luoktanjárga-jávri now?

         What happened to Ráivo-jávri

         once so rich and full of rávdo-fish?

         Where is proud Vuoksa-jávri,

         someone has swallowed lake Suorva?

         Even if I went far away, up to Ultevis mountain

         I would not see them, oh what would I see?"

 

         "Ahkajärvi" he points to the picture,

         unable to understand her words.

         But as he sees he does not succeed

         in cheering her up, he goes on

         "Here's something for you,

         (poor old thing)" and he draws up

         an envelope from his pocket, full of money

         and puts it in her hand:

         "Finally we got through to you

         with a better message than the previous ones:

         and this is the sum granted you

         by the Hydro-Electric Power Society.

         Yes, the project is well under way

         giving a lot of money to the land

         and power to the building of industry,

         after all this immense investment.

         Now, this is a kind of compensation

         to you, the last to live there, of course

         we have had to take away some tax.

         But since the project has been

         such a prospective success,

         and now every initiative prosper in this land

         I too have earned quite a lot on't

         and would very much like to contribute a sum"

         he says and draws out a second portion

         places it in her hands.

         Unable to grasp it, she let it fall to the floor,

         he has to take it up again

         and place it on the little table by her bed.

         "I take the gift, not for my own sake

         but for my relatives, with thanks,

         who now have been made to rely

         not on my little amount of wisdom

         but on my huge piles of money.

         Where is my goahti,

         priceless shelter for old and young,

         where is my land

         full of unwrapped love for our lives?

         You can take the tax ten times

         but you can take nothing from me,

         because I have all I need,

         more is not for me.

         You can't berich me

         even if your brought into this room

         all the money in the world.

         I have found a treasure

         that is above life and death."

        

         "What do you mean?" says the expert

         in embarrassed amazement.

 

         "If you were as poor as me

         and yet so incredible rich

         you would hopefully understand."

 

         "Oh yes, you're lucky. Goodbye.

         I almost envy you all that money!" he says.

        

         She looks far into the future

         or back in the ancestral past.

         Silently, almost humble

         he moves towards the door,

         then he hears her voice again:

         "I want to ask you something."

         He goes towards her bed again,

         is it love he can see in her eyes,

         although they flow with tears.

         he holds his breath

         as she now bears forth her last

         her most heavy sacrifice:

         "Can you forgive me for my bitterness

         against you and your people? Please say Yes!"

         Bewildered at this uncommon question

         he is in no condition to even give her a nod.

         After a trembling pause she concludes:

         "I have forgiven you. I have lost my hate," smiling.

 

         "Now is the time for me to leave"

         he finally stutters out.

         And in closing the door to her room, confused

         rushing trough the corridor

         he says these words loudly to himself,

         behind him are all the millions:

         "She belongs to the past,

         not future for her. My goodness, forgive me?

         After all I have done for them!

         A clean bed in a sterilized room,

         what more can a grandmother want,

         and all that money, too!

         After all, I have done what I could

         according to my education,"

         yet a little thought, a faint little feeling

         runs through his brain like a flash of the time.

         A funny feeling that after all

         she is completely right

         and he himself on the wrong track,

         running like a slave of some mysterious Monster

         that calls itself Devilopment

         but no one he knows can even define it

         only, like himself, wrap themselves in excuses.

         But this little spark of enlightenment

         he doesn't dare let it light the flame of his conscience

         too much uncompleted yet, - I'll wait till later,

         and thus he disappears

         among the numbers

         of those who didn't dare to do what is right.

         Another brick in the terrible wall

         rising up between Mankind and the lasting Day.

         He leaves the place with the illusion

         that he has understood it all.

         But people of eternal modernization

         have no time even for understanding.

         Simple truths.

         And how, then, could one apply them?

        

         *

 

 

XVIII

         But what is this, she can feel

         a sudden and slow dissolving of Time

         into what is even above it,

         breezes of spring touch her body

         the pains disappear like a dissolving dimness

         and her tearfilled eyes

         that were stopped by the wall

         can see through it,

         the mysterious mists of sorrow and suffering

         seem to lift and melt away.

         Has she finally reached

         the goal of her travels

         she has longed for all her lives?

         Beautiful meadows with grass and flowers

         blessed by beautiful rivers and lakes

         where the smiling snow.spots of the mountains

         is praised in the mirror of their waters.

         Is this the SÁIVU sometimes mentioned

         by the old ones in long nights of winter?

         Everywhere is green and fruitful

         this land of plenty

         that the Sámi people

         have migrated towards

         since the first beginnings of life.

         She can see thousands of people

         beautiful faces with loving looks.

 

         We have lived and longed for this lovely land,

         at last we have faithfully found it,

         we have won, the lost land of SÁIVU is ours!

         she tries to lift herself up, but is lifted,

         everything is done for her already.

         She hears words and songs

         all-including yoiks

         she never heard before,

         yet she fully understands them all.

         Everywhere is the feeling

         soft and lifegiving breath

         surrounds her and fills her whole being,

         whispers of joy and overwhelming love

         surrounds her, the she suddenly sees

         a Wonderful One

         sp full of Glory, it must be the King,

         and the voices sing loud and clear

         inspired by the Everlasting Power.

         Surprised and in wonder she sees Him

         with a crown like the rainbow

         coming towards her.

         In a voice relieved

         from the damnations of the world

         renewed in body and soul

         with soft clean lips

         she says his sacred name

         embracing and embraced, forgiven,

         her Friend and Master, the Prince of Peace.

         As she whispers his name again and again

         lifted up and away in perfect affection

         moved by the blissful emotion

         of her last lihkahus [26]

         in lasting ecstatic joy,

         someone knocks at the door.

 

         *

 

 

XIX

         "Can we come in?" Three times, but no answer.

         They knock at the door to her room.

         No reply, so her relatives open the door,

         loaded with presents they will give her,

         bought in the town, some even sent from Stockholm,

         expensive, yet with joyful voices they shout:

         "See what we have brought for you, áhkku!"

         But she don't see it, nor does she hear them,

         they realize she is gone to the other side.

         She is dead, they inherit her money,

         but have lost a far greater treasure.

         Victims of a wealthy and overflooded society,

         they fought the wolves in the past and won.

         but had to capitulate for superman Stállu [27] in steel.

         They put their presents down and cry;

         they've lost her, her spirits,

         their link to the future.

 

         *

 

         While the tourists buy tickets

         for a tour in the motor boat

         and throw chocolate-wrappings in the lake,

         the oldest of the siida

         is carried by her relatives

         to be buried near the tiny little wilderness chapel.

         The funeral songs may not reach far

         as they have to compete with the roar of the motors.

         But they go up to the clouds at least

         and from there fall down

         as heavy weeping rain

         baptizing the grave of áhkku

         for a hopeful future,

         but interrupting the tour

         of the irritable tourists

         who have to turn back.

         With complaining rage

         they curse the rain

         even if they get back their money.

 

         The drops fall softly now

         making rings on the shining surface

         as to discover what is there, too:

         the buried and forgotten happiness

         of one of the many siidas in Sápmi.

 

         Thou Lake of unnamed sufferings

         when shall thy curse be broken?

 

         The Dam, with a demonic grin

         stubbornly stops the stream of life,

         and only consumes according to its own needs.

         This Triumphal Arch of Devilopment

         this gateway to the flood of Styx [28] and Sin

         that drowned with injustice our hopes

         and keep the happy times

         locked in behind bars for ever!

         From the depth of your wet grave

         the stems of dead birch-trees

         like fingers of a skeleton

         force their way up from the depth of misery

         to grasp something in the air,

         demanding a Day of Judgement.

 

         The dam is too high

         for the hare to jump over,

         and if it dared

         it would land in the clean and dried death-bed

         of a once so powerful river. Look!

         What is more depressive to the human spirit

         than this sterilized scree

         cleansed of all its life,

         although it has already earned the name

         of "One of the many ways of Progress."

         Self-appointed experts who only see through tubes

         have touched and fumbled

         with the secret threads of Natural Balance,

         disturbing and destroying the laws of the Earth,

         put its circulating system out of order.

         Your own children will curse you one day for this.

 

         The Circle of Creation  when broken

         becomes the bewitched Spiral of Evil:

         further and further one has to follow

         downwards. Yes, some call it Devilopment.

 

         The Creator of the Rainbow has seen

         the pain of Creation caused by this,

         has heard from the depth

         of five drowned lakes

         what each of the stones have shouted in pain,

         suffering souls that the world has forgotten.

 

         *

 

 

XXI

         And as if this was not enough

         the exploitation is still going on:

         Foreigners, not content with the wealth

         the destruction of the land has caused,

         a land cultivated through the care

         of the hands and the hearts of my people

         since age-old times,

         now Dá tj a start to conquer our spirits, our souls,

         exploit us by sowing the seeds of hate and bitterness

         in the tear-wet ashew of our siida.

 

         My people, wake up, beware this brew!

         The world, our Family, deserve what is better!

         Wake up, and look around.

                 

                  There still is peace in some forgotten corner

                        in some sacred grove of our forests.

                        There still are winds that can be trusted

                        coming from the lofty snow cobvered mountains

                        bathed in the soft light of the evening sun.

                        Not all the lakes are cursed with dams,

                        not all the birds have ceased to sing,

¨                        the stars are still there to smile from above.

                        When the snowflakes dance through the Universe

                        like stars coming down with good news,

                        there is a hope in this world of ours

                        if we justly give time for it and listen!

                        Listen with your heart, your eyes

                        to the growth of a little green-hope in Spring:

                        what a power it has that plant!

                        Fighting through the icy snow

                        bravely it lifts a beautiful flower

                        over and upwards

                        blessed by lifegiving light from above.

                       

                        Do not make a dam, but open your hearts

                        for that tiny little brook

                        the Creator has made of your soul,

                        let it run and grow

                        to bless the thirsty and hungry

                        and they in turn will bless you!

 

 

                        *

 

 

The Sámi words in the text have been written using the present orthography by the kind assistance of Samuli Aikio, Ohcejohka, who also has looked through the text. Thanks to him and also to Arden Johson for correcting some mistakes and suggesting some changes, of which I have followed most. The author asks pardon for not having used the local JULEV dialect.

 

Published for the first time by KEVISELIE 1981, printed from my handwriting, and with my photos at Øytun Trykk, Alta, 10.des.1981, .

 

 

 

 

(on the back cover:

 

IS IT RIGHT

OR EVEN DEMOCRATIC

TO IGNORE

A PEOPLE'S WISH TO SURVIVE

ACCORDING TO TRADITIONS

TESTED BY TIME ITSELF

AND DAMAGE AND DESTROY RESOURCES

THAT WE ALL DEPEND OUR LIFE ONE?

IS THERE A LIMIT

TO HOW FAR DEVILOPMENT AND PROGRESS

CAN PUSH ASIDE PEOPLE

EVEN IF THEY ARE

SMALL

IN NUMBER...?

                       



[1] SÁPMI is the ancient and correct name of Lapland, in the language of its inhabitants, the SÁMI people( plural SÁMIT). The term Lapp or Lapland are derogatory and should be replaced by Sámi(t) and Sápmi or SÁMIEANA(SÁMILAND).

[2] LULEJU, or in the local dialect JULEV or JULEVU

[3] promille, french: thousandth, tenth of 1 percent

[4] SIIDA, sámi word for a family or a few families together, and the area they use and share together, a "village".

[5] GOAHTI (pl. GOA 8 IT) Sámi turf-hut or earth-cottage, or a tent with identical frame-shape. The tent-goahti(covered with canvas, hides or woven ránot(carpets) is larger than the LÁVVU, a tent used by herders, not by families.

[6] SUOHPAN, lasso, rope to throw to catch running reindeer.

[7] GÁRDI, fence to round up the reindeer usually twice a year, or as often as necessary, to sort out the different flocks, to slaught, mark or train; corral.

[8] SIIDAISIT, village elder or leader, head of the siida or family.

[9] EALLU, reindeer flock or herd (from EALLIT - "to live", EALLIN - "life")

[10] GIELLA, a snare to catch ptarmigan-birds

[11] ? A(pl. Dá O at) a non-Sámi, usually a Scandinavian, a foreigner

[12] ÁHKKU - grandmother, can be used about any old female person.

[13] DUOTTAR - mountain plateau, without forest. This is one of the few sámi words that has become international, although the meaning is a little bit different from the original: TUNDRA - frozen and barren land in the Arctic(permafrost)

[14] ORDA - forest line

[15] GUOVSAHASAT - Aurora borealis

[16] Yoik - to perform a LUOHTI (traditional Sámi song) - to perform Sámi Folk Music(vocal only): Juoigat(verb), JUOIGUS(noun);LUOHTI - the melody and text. LÁVLOT - to sing in an ordinary(non-sámi) way.

[17] MII FERTET JÁVKAT ?- we must disappear?

[18] GUKSI - wooden drinking-cup, made from twisted birchwood growth.

[19] ÁH ¢¢ I - father

[20] MAID DAT DÁ ? A DADJÁ? - What that foreigner is saying?

[21] delibarate misspelling for «Swedish steel»

[22] GÁMA -GÁPMAGAT - Sámi shoes used during summer

[23] RIVGU - a non-sámi woman(most often a Scandinavian woman)

[24] old luohtti yoiked by MATHIAS KUOLJOK(1897 - 1965)

[25] ARRAN - fireplace in a goahti, in the middle directly on the earth, with stones in a circle round it.

[26] lihkahus (= movement) a grade of religious exitement, trance or ecstasy in the laestadian terminology

[27] a powerful and evil but stupid giant in Sámi myths

[28] river in the Underworold of Greek mythology

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22.02 | 18:50

Jeg har funnet ett eks. Det koster kr 2.000 pluss frakt. Skal jeg sende det og til hvilken adresse? Mvh HRM

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