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The Kalevala, by John Martin Crawford, [1888], at



WAINAMOINEN, old and truthful,
Swam through all the deep-sea waters,
Floating like a branch of aspen,
Like a withered twig of willow;
Swam six days in summer weather,
Swam six nights in golden moonlight;
Still before him rose the billows,
And behind him sky and ocean.
Two days more he swam undaunted,
Two long nights be struggled onward.
On the evening of the eighth day,
Wainamoinen grew disheartened,
Felt a very great discomfort,
For his feet had lost their toe-nails,
And his fingers dead and dying.

Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
Sad and weary, spake as follows:
"Woe is me, my old life fated!
Woe is me, misfortune's offspring!
Fool was I when fortune, favored,
To forsake my home and kindred,
For a maiden fair and lovely,
Here beneath the starry heavens,
In this cruel waste of waters,
Days and nights to swim and wander,
Here to struggle with the storm-winds,
To be tossed by heaving billows,
In this broad sea's great expanses,
In this ocean vast and boundless.

"Cold my life and sad and dreary,
Painful too for me to linger
Evermore within these waters,
Thus to struggle for existence!
Cannot know how I can prosper,
How to find me food and shelter,
In these cold and lifeless waters,
In these days of dire misfortune.
Build I in the winds my dwelling?
It will find no sure foundation.
Build my home upon the billows?
Surely would the waves destroy it."

Comes a bird from far Pohyola,
From the occident, an eagle,
Is not classed among the largest,
Nor belongs he to the smallest;
One wing touches on the waters,
While the other sweeps the heavens;
O'er the waves he wings his body,
Strikes his beak upon the sea-cliffs,
Flies about, then safely perches,
Looks before him, looks behind him,
There beholds brave Wainamoinen,
On the blue-back of the ocean,
And the eagle thus accosts him:
"Wherefore art thou, ancient hero,
Swimming in the deep-sea billows?
Thus the water-minstrel answered:
"I am ancient Wainamoinen,
Friend and fellow of the waters
I, the famous wisdom-singer;
Went to woo a Northland maiden,
Maiden from the dismal Darkland,
Quickly galloped on my journey,
Riding on the plain of ocean.
I arrived one morning early,
At the breaking of the day-dawn.
At the bay of Luotola,
Near Youkola's foaming river,
Where the evil Youkahainen
Slew my steed with bow and arrow,
Tried to slay me with his weapons.
On the waters fell I headlong,
Plunged beneath the salt-sea's surface,
From the saddle of the courser,
From my dappled steed of magic.

"Then arose a mighty storm-wind,
From the East and West a whirlwind,
Washed me seaward on the surges,
Seaward, seaward, further, further,
Where for many days I wandered,
Swam and rocked upon the billows,
Where as many nights I struggled,
In the dashing waves and sea-foam,
With the angry winds and waters.

"Woe is me, my life hard-fated!
Cannot solve this heavy problem,
How to live nor how to perish
In this cruel salt-sea water.
Build I in the winds my dwelling?
It will find no sure foundation.
Build my home upon the waters?
Surely will the waves destroy it.
Must I swim the sea forever,
Must I live, or must I perish?
What will happen if I perish,
If I sink below the billows,
Perish here from cold and hunger?"
Thus the bird of Ether answered
"Be not in the least disheartened,
Place thyself between my shoulders,
On my back be firmly seated,
I will lift thee from the waters,
Bear thee with my pinions upward,
Bear thee wheresoe'er thou willest.
Well do I the day remember
Where thou didst the eagle service,
When thou didst the birds a favor.
Thou didst leave the birch-tree standing,
When were cleared the Osmo-forests,
From the lands of Kalevala,
As a home for weary song-birds,
As a resting-place for eagles."

Then arises Wainamoinen,
Lifts his head above the waters,
Boldly rises from the sea-waves,
Lifts his body from the billows,
Seats himself upon the eagle,
On the eagle's feathered shoulders.
Quick aloft the huge bird bears him,
Bears the ancient Wainamoinen,
Bears him on the path of zephyrs,
Floating on the vernal breezes,
To the distant shore of Northland,
To the dismal Sariola,
Where the eagle leaves his burden,
Flies away to join his fellows.

Wainamoinen, lone and weary,
Straightway fell to bitter weeping,
Wept and moaned in heavy accents,
On the border of the blue-sea.
On a cheerless promontory,
With a hundred wounds tormented,
Made by cruel winds and waters,
With his hair and beard dishevelled
By the surging of the billows.
Three long days he wept disheartened
Wept as many nights in anguish,
Did not know what way to journey,
Could not find a woodland foot-print,
That would point him to the highway,
To his home in Kalevala,
To his much-loved home and kindred.

Northland's young and slender maiden,
With complexion fair and lovely,
With the Sun had laid a wager,
With the Sun and Moon a wager,
Which should rise before the other,
On the morning of the morrow.
And the maiden rose in beauty,
Long before the Sun had risen,
Long before the Moon bad wakened,
From their beds beneath the ocean.
Ere the cock had crowed the day-break,
Ere the Sun had broken slumber
She had sheared six gentle lambkins,
Gathered from them six white fleeces,
Hence to make the rolls for spinning,
Hence to form the threads for weaving,
Hence to make the softest raiment,
Ere the morning dawn had broken,
Ere the sleeping Sun had risen.

When this task the maid had ended,
Then she scrubbed the birchen tables,
Sweeps the ground-floor of the stable,
With a broom of leaves and branches
From the birches of the Northland,
Scrapes the sweepings well together
On a shovel made of copper,
Carries them beyond the stable,
From the doorway to the meadow,
To the meadow's distant border,
Near the surges of the great-sea,
Listens there and looks about her,
Hears a wailing from the waters,
Hears a weeping from the sea-shore,
Hears a hero-voice lamenting.

Thereupon she hastens homeward,
Hastens to her mother's dwelling,
These the words the maiden utters:
"I have heard a wail from ocean,
Heard a weeping from the sea-coast,
On the shore some one lamenting."

Louhi, hostess of Pohyola,
Ancient, toothless dame of Northland,
Hastens from her door and court-yard,
Through the meadow to the sea-shore,
Listens well for sounds of weeping,
For the wail of one in sorrow;
Hears the voice of one in trouble,
Hears a hero-cry of anguish.
Thus the ancient Louhi answers:
"This is not the wail of children,
These are not the tears of women,
In this way weep bearded heroes;
This the hero-cry of anguish."

Quick she pushed her boat to water,
To the floods her goodly vessel,
Straightway rows with lightning swiftness,
To the weeping Wainamoinen;
Gives the hero consolation,
Comfort gives she to the minstrel
Wailing in a grove of willows,
In his piteous condition,
Mid the alder-trees and aspens,
On the border of the salt-sea,
Visage trembling, locks dishevelled.
Ears, and eyes, and lips of sadness.

Louhi, hostess of Pohyola,
Thus addresses Wainamoinen:
"Tell me what has been thy folly,
That thou art in this condition."

Old and truthful Wainamoinen
Lifts aloft his bead and answers:
"Well I know that it is folly
That has brought me all this trouble,
Brought me to this land of strangers,
To these regions unbefitting
Happy was I with my kindred,
In my distant home and country,
There my name was named in honor."

Louhi, hostess of Pohyola,
Thus replied to Wainamoinen:
"I would gain the information,
Should I be allowed to ask thee,
Who thou art of ancient heroes,
Who of all the host of heroes?
This is Wainamoinen's answer:
"Formerly my name was mentioned,
Often was I heard and honored,
As a minstrel and magician,
In the long and dreary winters,
Called the 'Singer of the Northland,
In the valleys of Wainola,
On the plains of Kalevala;
No one thought that such misfortune
Could befall wise Wainamoinen."

Louhi, hostess of Pohyola,
Thus replied in cheering accents
"Rise, O hero, from discomfort,
From thy bed among the willows;
Enter now upon the new-way,
Come with me to yonder dwelling,
There relate thy strange adventures,
Tell the tale of thy misfortunes."

Now she takes the hapless hero,
Lifts him from his bed of sorrow,
In her boat she safely seats him,
And begins at once her rowing,
Rows with steady hand and mighty
To her home upon the sea-shore,
To the dwellings of Pohyola.
There she feeds the starving hero,
Rests the ancient Wainamoinen,
Gives him warmth, and food, and shelter,
And the hero soon recovers.

Then the hostess of Pohyola
Questioned thus the ancient singer:
"Wherefore didst thou, Wainamoinen,
Friend and fellow of the waters,
Weep in sad and bitter accents,
On the border of the ocean,
Mid the aspens and the willows?"

This is Wainamoinen's answer:
Had good reason for my weeping,
Cause enough for all my sorrow;
Long indeed had I been swimming,
Had been buffeting the billows,
In the far outstretching waters.
This the reason for my weeping;
I have lived in toil and torture,
Since I left my home and country,
Left my native land and kindred,
Came to this the land of strangers,
To these unfamiliar portals.
All thy trees have thorns to wound me,
All thy branches, spines to pierce me,
Even birches give me trouble,
And the alders bring discomfort,
My companions, winds and waters,
Only does the Sun seem friendly,
In this cold and cruel country,
Near these unfamiliar portals."

Louhi thereupon made answer,
Weep no longer, Wainamoinen,
Grieve no more, thou friend of waters,
Good for thee, that thou shouldst linger
At our friendly homes and firesides;
Thou shalt live with us and welcome,
Thou shalt sit at all our tables,
Eat the salmon from our platters,
Eat the sweetest of our bacon,
Eat the whiting from our waters."

Answers thus old Wainamoinen,
Grateful for the invitation:
"Never do I court strange tables,
Though the food be rare and toothsome;
One's own country is the dearest,
One's own table is the sweetest,
One's own home, the most attractive.
Grant, kind Ukko, God above me,
Thou Creator, full of mercy,
Grant that I again may visit
My beloved home and country.
Better dwell in one's own country,
There to drink Its healthful waters
From the simple cups of birch-wood,
Than in foreign lands to wander,
There to drink the rarest liquors
From the golden bowls of strangers."

Louhi, hostess of Pohyola,
Thus replied to the magician:
"What reward wilt thou award me,
Should I take thee where thou willest,
To thy native land and kindred,
To thy much-loved home and fireside,
To the meadows of Wainola,
To the plains of Kalevala?"

These the words of Wainamoinen:
"What would be reward sufficient,
Shouldst thou take me to my people,
To my home and distant country,
To the borders of the Northland,
There to hear the cuckoo singing,
Hear the sacred cuckoo calling?
Shall I give thee golden treasures,
Fill thy cups with finest silver?"

This is Louhi's simple answer:
"O thou ancient Wainamoinen,
Only true and wise magician,
Never will I ask for riches,
Never ask for gold nor silver;
Gold is for the children's flowers,
Silver for the stallion's jewels.
Canst thou forge for me the Sampo,
Hammer me the lid in colors,
From the tips of white-swan feathers
From the milk of greatest virtue,
From a single grain of barley,
From the finest wool of lambkins?

"I will give thee too my daughter,
Will reward thee through the maiden,
Take thee to thy much-loved home-land,
To the borders of Wainola,
There to hear the cuckoo singing,
Hear the sacred cuckoo calling."

Wainamoinen, much regretting,
Gave this answer to her question:
"Cannot forge for thee the Sampo,
Cannot make the lid in colors.
Take me to my distant country,
I will send thee Ilmarinen,
He will forge for thee the Sampo,
Hammer thee the lid in colors,
He may win thy lovely maiden;
Worthy smith is Ilmarinen,
In this art is first and master;
He, the one that forged the heavens.
Forged the air a hollow cover;
Nowhere see we hammer-traces,
Nowhere find a single tongs-mark."

Thus replied the hostess, Louhi:
"Him alone I'll give my daughter,
Promise him my child in marriage,
Who for me will forge the Sampo,
Hammer me the lid in colors,
From the tips of white-swan feathers,
From the milk of greatest virtue,
From a single grain of barley,
From the finest wool of lambkins."

Thereupon the hostess Louhi,
Harnessed quick a dappled courser,
Hitched him to her sledge of birch-wood,
Placed within it Wainamoinen,
Placed the hero on the cross-bench,
Made him ready for his journey;
Then addressed the ancient minstrel,
These the words that Louhi uttered:
"Do not raise thine eyes to heaven,
Look not upward on thy journey,
While thy steed is fresh and frisky,
While the day-star lights thy pathway,
Ere the evening star has risen;
If thine eyes be lifted upward,
While the day-star lights thy pathway,
Dire misfortune will befall thee,
Some sad fate will overtake thee."

Then the ancient Wainamoinen
Fleetly drove upon his journey,
Merrily he hastened homeward,
Hastened homeward, happy-hearted
From the ever-darksome Northland
From the dismal Sariola.

Next: Rune VIII. Maiden of the Rainbow.