Photo of snowy birch trees

The Weep of a Birch Tree

Thereupon he [Väinämöinen] spoke and asked it [the birch-tree],
 “Wherefore weep’st thou, beauteous birch-tree,
 Shedding tears, O green-leaved birch-tree,
 By thy belt of white conspicuous?
 To the war thou art not taken,
 Longest not for battle-struggle.”

 Answer made the leaning birch-tree,
 And the green-leaved tree responded:
 “There is much that I could speak of,
 Many things I might reflect on,
 How I best might live in pleasure,
 And I might rejoice for pleasures.
 I am wretched in my sorrow.

 And can but rejoice in trouble,
 Living with my life o’erclouded,
 And lamenting in my sorrow.

 “And I weep my utter weakness,
 And my worthless lament for,
 I am poor, and all unaided,
 Wholly wretched, void of succour,
 Here in such an evil station,
 On a plain among the willows.

 “Perfect happiness and pleasure
 Others always are expecting,
 When arrives the beauteous summer,
 In the warm days of the summer.
 But my fate is different, wretched,
 Nought but wretchedness awaits me;
 And my bark is peeling from me,
 Down are hewed my leafy branches.

 “Often unto defenceless
 Oft to me, unhappy creature,
 In the short spring come the children,
 Quickly to the spot they hurry,
 And with sharpened knives they score me,
 Draw my sap form out my body,
 And in summer wicked herdsmen,
 Strip from me my white bark-grille,
 Cups and plates therefrom constructing,
 Baskets too, for holding berries.

 “Often too, am I, defenceless,
 Oft am I, unhappy creature,
 Hewed away to make a clearing,
 Cut to pieces into faggots.

 Thrice already in this summer,
 In the warm days of the summer,
 Unto me have come the woodmen,
 And have hewed me with their axes,
 Hewed the crown from me unhappy,
 And my weak life has departed.

 “This has been joy in summer,
 In the warm days of the summer,
 But no better was the winter,
 Nor the time of snow more pleasant.

 “And in former times already,
 Has my face been changed by trouble,
 And my head has dropped with sadness,
 And my cheeks have paled with sorrow,
 Thinking o’er the days of evil,
 Pondering o’er the times of evil.

 “And the wind brought ills upon me,
 And the frost brought bitter sorrows.
 Tore the wind my green cloak form me,
 Frost my pretty dress from off me,
 Thus am I of all the poorest,
 And a most unhappy birch-tree,
 Standing stripped of all my clothing,
 As a naked trunk I stand here,
 And in cold I shake and tremble,
 And in frost I stand lamenting.

 The Kalevala, Canto 44