Monday, March 29, 2010

© Eso Antons Benjamins, aka Jaņdžs
95 The Story of Clever John and Crazy Jane (4)

An old Latvian story retold. For the original see
3.A.327.B.460. A.K. Bramanis Rīgas apg. LP,V,36 (3,1).

The Fourth Leg of the Journey. Having loaded up the wagon with gold, Clever John drove up to the main gate of the castle of King Great Ruler. Over the gate hung a large sign, where large letters spelled “Jersika”, i.e., a Latvian colloquialism for “Jerusalem”. This was the first kingdom of proto-Latvians that anyone has heard of. Six guards rolled their drums to summon the king. King Great Ruler himself came to the gate to greet Clever John. This time the King wore leather boots to his knees. The King’s eyes shone in anticipation.

When King Great Ruler saw the wagon full of gold, he called for his daughter princess Complete Satisfaction even before he greeted Clever John. But the King and Clever John waited in vain. A guard of the Jersika castle came running to say that Complete Satisfaction was delayed. King Great Ruler apologized to John for the inconvenience.

“Since you are Clever John, you surely know how these women are,” said the King. “But do not worry. You will meet her in bed. You will be no worse for the anticipation. Beside, the custom in Jersika is to celebrate the marriage ceremony without the bride present. It is thus that Complete Satisfaction builds up Anticipation for the lihgo she will enjoy with you in bed.”

The wedding ceremony is a great feast. Clever John invites his six brothers to attend. The whole day of the ninth day after “Johns Eve” passes in dancing and tournaments of strength and wit. Clever John’s brothers’ dance with Great Ruler’s other daughters all day long. The daughters appear to the brothers as having been met before, which is why no one is shy. Even the Mother of the Devil and King Great Ruler are seen dancing with each other and their guests.

Who would have ever imagined that bathing seven crickets in the sea would lead to such an awesome ceremony and an all day feast?

At last, evening comes, and it is time for Clever John to go lihgo.

King Great Ruler along with the Mother of the Devil lead Clever John to the bedroom, also known as the Lihgo room. When they come to the door of the room, they give Clever John some last minute advice: “The moment you go inside and by the light of the door see where the bed is, do not wait, but close the door and dive right into the divan. Your prize (the Latvians call it “dahvana”), Complete Satisfaction, is waiting for you. If you hesitate the princess may lose the heat of her desire for you.”

A servant of the King’s court opens the door of the Lihgo room. Clever John sees the divan and dives right into the bed. As the servant closes the door, everything goes pitch black around him.

No sooner is Clever John under the blankets than he begins to feel for the princess. With great anticipation, he feels something soft beside him. He feels the material of a night gown, finds the buttons, and… he feels! he fears! it is straw. Can this be true? “I wasted no time jumping into bed!” shouts Clever John to no one in particular. “You cannot blame me for being late! What the Devi…,” he shouts, but he does not finish the word, because the door of the room suddenly opens and a shaft of light discovers Clever John on all fours on the divan feeling up a straw doll.

Into the Lihgo room come servants with large candelabras of lit candles. Right behind them is Crazy Jane.

As soon as the servants leave and close the door behind them, Crazy Jane wastes no time and says what is on her mind: “What do you take me for, Clever John?” she screams. “Was I not the first woman who you proposed to? Do you really believe that some princess named Complete Satisfaction was here just waiting for you?”

For the first time in his life Clever John is speechless. “But, but…”, he begins, but cannot find other words.

Crazy Jane has been holding in her hands a pair of long leather boots. She throws the boots on the bed. “Put these on,” she commands. Clever John notices that Crazy Jane, too, wears boots.

Clever John does as he is ordered. He pulls on the boots. And the moment that the bottoms of his feet touch the bottoms of the boots, he feels himself seized by a big shake. His skin is transversed by pleasant shivers, and then he is seized by a heat wave that alternates with a cold wave. Crazy Jane has pulled off her night gown and with her boots still on has jumped into the bed and now lies beside Clever John.

From outside each door of the bedroom the chorus of the court of Jersika (Oh Jerusalem!) breaks out in Lihgo songs.

“Lih-go! Lih-go!” (Often the word “Lihgo” is sung as one yodelling in the mountains does it: “Lih-ih-go! Lih-ih-go!”) The voices of King Great Ruler and the Mother of the Devil are heard among the singers.

“Ai, Johnny, son of the Sun,
Lih-ih-go! Lih-ih-go!
Ai Janey, daughter of the Devil,
Lih-ih-go! Lih-ih-go!”

After the chorus is done, the trumpets sound the fanfare fanfare to Clever John and Crazy Jane. It sends shivers through every Latvian who has ever heard or not heard it before.

That is how they once celebrated Johns Eve in Jersika-Jerusalem of proto-Latvia.

This is where the story ends. Clever John and Crazy Jane live to this day in Jersika. It is the Latvian Jerusalem—though today few make the connection between the name Jersika with Jerusalem. One hears that Clever John still has his long boots on, and some people wonder how it is possible for him to keep them on for so long. There is an answer to this mystery, of course.

You see, Clever John and Crazy Jane have never yet climbed out of the bed, and this is why the soles of their boots never are worn down. It is not for nothing why Clever John is also known as the Father of the Dead.

(The end.)

Asterisk & Notes of Interest:
On material depravation in Latvia.
On the theme of “more-equal-than-others” see George Orwell's "Animal Farm".  
A recommended read: “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” by Emmanuel Goldstein (A book within a book from George Orwell's "1984".  
Of interest to me is this (news on the California elections to legalize Johns Grass) and this article (coca politics in Bolivia). The articles express some of my reasons for supporting the growing of Johns Grass in Latvia.
Interesting material relating to Johns;
A recommended site. 

These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you read—you are encouraged to consider reading the previous blog and the blog hereafter.
Partial entries of my blogs may be found at LatviansOnline + Forum Home + Open Forum –ONLATVIANPOPULISM vs LATVIJASLABEJIE. If you copy this blog for your files, or copy to forward, or otherwise mention its content, please credit the author and

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