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Everlasting sauna - by John Ashford

More heat! More heat! More steam!” cried the Finn,
seeming to wake from sleep and dream,
and looking for wood to heap on the fire.
”What’s wrong with you?” asked an angry voice
shouting above the fire’s noise.

”I want more heat on the fire, and water
to throw on the stones” said the Finn through the din.
”Without more fire I cannot perspire
I need more heat and steam from the stones
to take the ache and pain from my bones.”

”Where do you think you are?” asked the voice.
”In sauna, of course” said the cheerful Finn.
”Sauna be damned”, swore the voice.
”You must be mad, as well as bad.
Can’t you see, and hear, and feel you’re in Hell?”

”Good heavens!” cried the Finn in alarm
”I never, never did any harm.
There’s some mistake.” ”There’s no mistake.
You never did any good, which is bad,
or worse”, said the scornful voice with a curse.

The frightened Finn began to perspire,
but not with the heat of the fire.
It was fright and fear when he heard tell
of the terrible fate of roasting in Hell.

Soon he began to scream and shout
louder and louder: ”Let me out! Let me out!
There’s been a mistake. I must get out.
I shouldn’t be here; I must get out.”

”That’s better”, answered the voice from the fire
and out of the fire sprang a horrible devil
with leering eyes and sneering smile,
a horrid embodiment of evil.

At once the devil poked the fire.
He brought in barrow loads of wood,
and piling it on he stoked the fire.
He fed the glowing stove with wood;
no longer could he use the poker
for the stove began to bake the stoker.

The Finn began again to scream:
”I can’t endure this nightmare dream.
I don’t feel well enough for Hell.”

”Shut up, shut up, you foolish Finn!
You can’t get out once you are in.
It doesn’t help to yell in Hell.
If you are too tough to bake, we’ll make you boil.”

And then that devil began
pouring pails of water on the white hot stove.
As the water turned to scalding steam,
seething, scalding clouds of steam,
the Finn stopped shouting and ceased to scream:
he began to smile and grin with joy
and then to laugh and laugh and laugh.

He laughed as if fun would never be done.
He sweated and laughed for sheer delight
shouting and singing with all his might.

And then that very horrible devil
seizing some birches began to beat him.
He beat his back, arms, legs and seat.
”Take that! And that!” yelled the furious devil
as he threshed and beat the sweating Finn.
He beat him again to double the pain.
But the Finn yelled: ”KIITOS, KIITOS!
Do it again. Do it again.”

The fiercely glowing, sweltering fire,
the scalding, stifling, seething steam,
convinced the Finn he’d never tire
of that Everlasting Sauna fire…

Now note a problem which perplexes
virtuous Finns of both the sexes:
What’s to be done with wicked Finns
needing punishment for sins,
when they are quite content to dwell in Hell?

John Ashford

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