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



WAINAMOINEN, ancient minstrel,
Onward steered his goodly vessel,
From the isle of Lemminkainen,
From the borders of the village;
Steered his war-ship through the waters,
Sang it o'er the ocean-billows,
Joyful steered it to Pohyola.

On the banks were maidens standing,
And the daughters spake these measures:
"List the music on the waters!
What this wonderful rejoicing,
What this singing on the billows?
Far more beautiful this singing,
This rejoicing on the waters,
Than our ears have heard in Northland."

Wainamoinen, the magician,
Steered his wonder-vessel onward,
Steered one day along the sea-shore,
Steered the next through shallow waters,
Steered the third day through the rivers.
Then the reckless Lemminkainen
Suddenly some words remembered,
He had heard along the fire-stream
Near the cataract and whirlpool,
And these words the hero uttered:
"Cease, O cataract, thy roaring,
Cease, O waterfall, thy foaming!
Maidens of the foam and current,
Sitting on the rocks in water,
On the stone-blocks in the river,
Take the foam and white-capped billows
In your arms and still their anger,
That our ships may pass in safety!
Aged dame beneath the eddy,
Thou that livest in the sea-foam,
Swimming, rise above the waters,
Lift thy head above the whirlpool,
Gather well the foam and billows
In thine arms and still their fury,
That our ship may pass in safety!
Ye, O rocks beneath the current,
Underneath the angry waters,
Lower well your heads of danger,
Sink below our magic vessel,
That our ship may pass in safety!

"Should this prayer prove inefficient,
Kimmo, hero son of Kammo,
Bore an outlet with thine auger,
Cut a channel for this vessel
Through the rocks beneath the waters,
That our ship may pass in safety!
Should all this prove unavailing,
Hostess of the running water,
Change to moss these rocky ledges,
Change this vessel to an air-bag,
That between these rocks and billows
It may float, and pass in safety!

"Virgin of the sacred whirlpool,
Thou whose home is in the river,
Spin from flax of strongest fiber,
Spin a thread of crimson color,
Draw it gently through the water,
That the thread our ship may follow,
And our vessel pass in safety!
Goddess of the helm, thou daughter
Of the ocean-winds and sea-foam,
Take thy helm endowed with mercy,
Guide our vessel through these dangers,
Hasten through these floods enchanted,
Passing by the house of envy,
By the gates of the enchanters,
That our ship may pass in safety!

"Should this prayer prove inefficient,
Ukko, Ruler of creation, .
Guide our vessel with thy fire-sword,
Guide it with thy blade of lightning,
Through the dangers of these rapids,
Through the cataract and whirlpool,
That our ship may pass in safety!"

Thereupon old Wainamoinen
Steered his boat through winds and waters,
Through the rocky chinks and channels,
Through the surges wildly tossing;
And the vessel passed in safety
Through the dangers of the current,
Through the sacred stream and whirlpool.
As it gains the open waters,
Gains at length the broad-lake's bosom,
Suddenly its motion ceases,
On some object firmly anchored.
Thereupon young Ilmarinen,
With the aid of Lemminkainen,
Plunges in the lake the rudder,
Struggles with the aid of magic;
But he cannot move the vessel,
Cannot free it from its moorings.

Wainamoinen, old and truthful,
Thus addresses his companion:
"O thou hero, Lemminkainen,
Stoop and look beneath this war-ship,
See on what this boat is anchored,
See on what our craft is banging,
In this broad expanse of water,
In the broad-lake's deepest soundings,
If upon some rock or tree-snag,
Or upon some other hindrance."

Thereupon wild Lemminkainen
Looked beneath the magic vessel,
Peering through the crystal waters,
Spake and these the words be uttered:
"Does not rest upon a sand-bar,
Nor upon a rock, nor tree-snag,
But upon the back and shoulders
Of the mighty pike of Northland,
On the fin-bones of the monster."

Wainamoinen, old and trusty,
Spake these words to Lemminkainen:
"Many things we find in water,
Rocks, and trees, and fish, and sea-duck;
Are we on the pike's broad shoulders,
On the fin-bones of the monster,
Pierce the waters with thy broadsword,
Cut the monster into pieces."

Thereupon wild Lemminkainen,
Reckless wizard, filled with courage,
Pulls his broadsword from his girdle,
From its sheath, the bone-divider,
Strikes with might of magic hero,
Headlong falls into the water;
And the blacksmith, Ilmarinen,
Lifts the wizard from the river,
Speaks these words to dripping Ahti:
"Accidents will come to mortals,
Accidents will come to heroes,
By the hundreds, by the thousands,
Even to the gods above us!"

Then the blacksmith, Ilmarinen,
Drew his broadsword from his girdle,
From its sheath his blade of honor,
Tried to slay the pike of Northland
With the weapon of his forging;
But he broke his sword in pieces,
Did not harm the water-monster.

Wainamoinen, old and trusty,
Thus addresses his companions
"Poor apologies for heroes!
When occasion calls for victors,
When we need some great magician,
Need a hero filled with valor,
Then the arm that comes is feeble,
And the mind insane or witless,
Strength and reason gone to others!"

Straightway ancient Wainamoinen,
Miracle of strength and wisdom,
Draws his fire-sword from his girdle,
Wields the mighty blade of magic,
Strikes the waters as the lightning,
Strikes the pike beneath the vessel,
And impales, the mighty monster;
Raises him above the surface,
In the air the pike he circles,
Cuts the monster into pieces;
To the water falls the pike-tail,
To the ship the head and body;
Easily the ship moves onward.

Wainamoinen, old and faithful,
To the shore directs his vessel,
On the strand the boat he anchors,
Looks in every nook and corner
For the fragments of the monster;
Gathers well the parts together,
Speaks these words to those about him:
"Let the oldest of the heroes
Slice for me the pike of Northland,
Slice the fish to fitting morsels."

Answered all the men and heroes,
And the maidens spake, assenting:
"Worthier the catcher's fingers,
Wainamoinen's hands are sacred!"

Thereupon the wise magician
Drew a fish-knife from his girdle,
Sliced the pike to fitting morsels,
Spake again to those about him:
"Let the youngest of the maidens
Cook for me the pike of Northland,
Set for me a goodly dinner!"

All the maidens quick responded,
All the virgins vied in cooking;
Neither could outdo the other,
Thus the pike was rendered toothsome.
Feasted all the old magicians,
Feasted all the younger heroes,
Feasted all the men and maidens;
On the rocks were left the fish-bones,
Only relics of their feasting.

Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
Looked upon the pile of fragments,
On the fish-bones looked and pondered,
Spake these words in meditation:
"Wondrous things might be constructed
From the relies of this monster,
Were they in the blacksmith's furnace,
In the hands of the magician,
In the hands of Ilmarinen."
Spake the blacksmith of Wainola:
"Nothing fine can be constructed
From the bones and teeth of fishes
By the skillful forger-artist,
By the hands of the magician."
These the words of Wainamoinen:
"Something wondrous might be builded
From these jaws, and teeth, and fish-bones;
Might a magic harp be fashioned,
Could an artist be discovered
That could shape them to my wishes."

But he found no fish-bone artist
That could shape the harp of joyance
From the relies of their feasting,
From the jaw-bones of the monster,
To the will of the magician.
Thereupon wise Wainamoinen
Set himself at work designing;
Quick became a fish-bone artist,
Made a harp of wondrous beauty,
Lasting joy and pride of Suomi.
Whence the harp's enchanting arches?
From the jaw-bones of the monster.
Whence the necessary harp-pins?
From the pike-teeth firmly fastened.
Whence the sweetly singing harp-strings?
From the tail of Lempo's stallion.
Thus was born the harp of magic
From the mighty pike of Northland,
From the relies from the feasting
Of the heroes of Wainola.
All the young men came to view it,
All the aged with their children,
Mothers with their beauteous daughters,
Maidens with their golden tresses;
All the people on the islands
Came to view the harp of joyance,
Pride and beauty of the Northland.

Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
Let the aged try the harp-strings,
Gave it to the young magicians,
To the dames and to their daughters,
To the maidens, silver-tinselled,
To the singers of Wainola.
When the young men touched the harp-strings,
Then arose the notes of discord;
When the aged played upon it,
Dissonance their only music.
Spake the wizard, Lemminkainen:
"O ye witless, worthless children,
O ye senseless, useless maidens,
O ye wisdom-lacking heroes,
Cannot play this harp of magic,
Cannot touch the notes of concord!
Give to me this thing or beauty,
Hither bring the harp of fish-bones,
Let me try my skillful fingers."
Lemminkainen touched the harp-strings,
Carefully the strings adjusted,
Turned the harp in all directions,
Fingered all the strings in sequence,
Played the instrument of wonder,
But it did not speak in concord,
Did not sing the notes of joyance.
Spake the ancient Wainamoinen:
"There is none among these maidens,
None among these youthful heroes,
None among the old magicians
That can play the harp of magic,
Touch the notes of joy and pleasure.
Let us take the harp to Pohya,
There to find a skillful player
That can touch the strings in concord."

Then they sailed to Sariola,
To Pohyola took the wonder,
There to find the harp a master.
All the heroes of Pohyola,
All the boys and all the maidens,
Ancient dames, and bearded minstrels,
Vainly touched the harp of beauty.

Louhi, hostess of the Northland,
Took the harp-strings in her fingers;
All the youth of Sariola,
Youth of every tribe and station,
Vainly touched the harp of fish-bone;
Could not find the notes of joyance,
Dissonance their only pleasure;
Shrieked the harp-strings like the whirlwinds,
All the tones wore harsh and frightful.

In a corner slept a blind man,
Lay a gray-beard on the oven,
Rousing from his couch of slumber,
Murmured thus within his corner:
"Cease at once this wretched playing,
Make an end of all this discord;
It benumbs mine ears for hearing,
Racks my brain, despoils my senses,
Robs me of the sweets of sleeping.
If the harp of Suomi's people
True delight cannot engender,
Cannot bring the notes of pleasure,
Cannot sing to sleep the aged,
Cast the thing upon the waters,
Sink it in the deeps of ocean,
Take it back to Kalevala,
To the home of him that made it,
To the bands of its creator."

Thereupon the harp made answer,
To the blind man sang these measures:
"Shall not fall upon the waters,
Shall not sink within the ocean;
I will play for my creator,
Sing in melody and concord
In the fingers of my master."

Carefully the harp was carried
To the artist that had made it
To the hands of its creator,
To the feet of Wainamoinen.

Next: Rune XLI. Wainamoinen's Harp-songs.