KALEVALA
The selected poems of Kalevala
Калевала'99

"Kalevala".


Runo 16

VAINAMOINEN IN TUONELA

Old reliable Vainamoinen,
He the great eternal seer,
Was engaged upon his boat,
Busy building his new vessel
On that misty point of land
At the head of Foggy Island,
But the shipwright has no timber,
Builder of the boat no planking.

9 Who will find the timber for him,
Who will get the needed oakwood 10
For the boat of Vainamoinen,
For the keelbeam of the singer?

13 Pellervoinen, gnome of plowland,
Sampsa lad, the little one,
He's the boy to find the timber,
He's the one to get the oakwood
For the boat of Vainamoinen,
For the keelbeam of the singer.

19 Out he went upon the highway,
Walking leisurely northeastward 20
Over one hill, over two hills,
Even over three hills tramping,
Golden ax upon his shoulder,
Golden ax with copper handle.
On his way he met an aspen
Rising up three fathoms high.

27 He got ready to approach it
And to fell it with his ax -
Hastily the aspen checked him
And forestalled him with its tongue: 30
"What, man, do you want of me;
Anyway, what are you seeking?"

33 Sampsa boy, the gnome of plowland,
Put the matter in these words:
"This is what I want of you,
What I want and what I seek:
Just a boat for Vainamoinen,
Timber for the singer's vessel."

39 It was very odd indeed,
What the hundred-brancher answered: 40
"What a boat you'd get from me,
A leaky tub, a sinking skiff!
I am hollow in the butt.
Thrice already in this summer
Grubby borers ate my heart out,
And the worm is at the root."

47 Forward on his way went Sampsa,
Sampsa boy, the gnome of plowland,
Walking on in meditation
As he took the northward way. 50

51 Soon he met a tall old pine
Rising up six fathoms high,
And he struck it with his ax,
Banged it lightly with his grub hoe,
And he asked the tall old tree:
"Would you be the one, old hulky,
For the boat of Vainamoinen,
For the singer's good ship timber?"

59 Hurriedly the pine replied,
Panting out a sullen grumble: 60
"But no boat will come from me,
No support for six boat ribs;
I am old and gnarled and knotty.
Thrice already in this summer
Rocked the raven on my summit,
Croaked the crow upon my branches."

67 Forward on his way went Sampsa,
Sampsa boy, the gnome of plowland,
Walking on in meditation
As he took the southward way, 70
Till he came upon an oak
With a girth of nine full fathoms.

73 Then he spoke out questioning:
"Would you be the right one, oak,
For the bottom of a raider,
For the keelbeam of a warship?"

77 Artfully the oak replied,
And it spoke out knowingly:
"There is wood enough in me,
Mother wood for one boat's keel; so
I am not a knotty pine
And inside I am not hollow.
Thrice already in this summer,
In this long and pleasant season,
Round my trunk the sun has circled,
On my crown the moon has glimmered;
On my branches cuckoos called,
In my leaves the birds have rested."

89 Sampsa boy, the gnome of plowland,
Took the ax from off his shoulder, 90
Struck the tree a mighty blow,
Chopped the oak tree with his ax bit.
Had the skill to fell it quickly,
Brought the good oak crashing down.

95 First he cleared the crown away,
Then he cut the trunk in sections,
Out of which he shaped the keelbeams
And a stack of countless lumber
For the mighty singer's vessel,
For the boat of Vainamoinen. 100

101 Then the staunch old Vainamoinen,
He the great eternal seer,
Made a boat with magic knowledge,
Built a vessel with his singing,
Built it from a single tree,
Segments of the fallen oak.

107 Sang a song, laid the keelson,
Sang a second, raised the freeboard;
As the third song echoed round
Carved the rowlocks for the oars, 110
Finished off the rib ends neatly,
Overlapped the planking tightly.

113 Done were keel and rib and planking
When the singer's tongue was halted -
From the chant three words were missing:
One to fix the gunwale firmly,
One to line up poop and prow,
One to finish off the stern.

119 Old reliable Vainamoinen,
He the great eternal seer, 120
Put his feelings into words:
"Oh, my days so miserable! -
Cannot even launch a boat,
Get my new boat on the water!"

125 Then he thought it over, wondering
Where to get the missing words,
Recompose the magic charms -
From the crowns of many swallows,
From the heads of flocking swans,
Shoulders of a skein of geese? 130

131 Then he went to hunt them down.
He destroyed a crowd of swans,
Massacred a skein of geese
And beheaded countless swallows,
But he filled no charm from them,
Not by word or half a word.

137 Then he thought it over, wondering:
"Maybe there's a hundred spells
Under tongue of summer reindeer,
In the mouth of winter squirrel." 140

l4l So he went to hunt them down,
To get the magic charms from them.
Got a whole corral of reindeer4
And a rafter full of squirrels-
Got a hundred spells indeed,
But not a single one would work.

147 So he thought it over, wondering:
"I will get a hundred sayings
From the haunts of Tuonela,
From the timeless house of Mana." 150

151 Went to Tuonela for charms,
Manala for words of magic.
Leisurely he strolls along;
For one week through sapling walking,
Second week through chokecherry marching,
Third through stands of juniper.
Now appears the isle of Mana,
With the knoll of Tuoni looming.

159 At the death-dark river of Tuoni,
By the slack of Mana water, 160
Old reliable Vainamoinen
Gives a great halloo-halloo:
"Tuoni's daughter, child of Mana,
Bring the boat, fetch the ferry
So that I can pass the gulf,
Get across the death-dark river!"

167 Tuoni's daughter, short and squat,
Mana's maiden, low in stature,
Was there washing out her laundry,
Busy batting at the clothing 170
By the death-dark river of Tuoni,
By the slack of Mana water.
There she answered Vainamoinen:
"We will bring the boat from here
Only when you tell the reason,
Why you come down here to Manala
Without dying of disease,
Neither in the course of nature
Nor by other doom deceased."

l8l To this Vainamoinen answered: 180
"It was Tuoni brought me here,
Mana dragged me from my country."

185 Tuoni's daughter, short and squat,
Mana's maiden, low in stature,
Put the matter into words:
"What a tongue-beater you are!
If my father brought you here,
Mana moved you from your country,
Tuoni would escort you here,
Mana keep you company, 190
Tuoni's hat upon your shoulders,
Mana's mittens on your hands.
Tell the truth now, Vainamoinen:
What has brought you down to Mana?"

197 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Spoke these words in answer there:
"Iron brought me down to Mana,
Steel has whisked me down to Tuoni."

201 Tuoni's daughter, short and squat,
Mana's maiden, low in stature, 200
Said a word and spoke out thus:
"By that I know you for a liar!
If iron brought you down to Mana,
If steel brought you to Tuonela,
Then your clothing would be bloody
And the red death streaming out.
Tell the truth now, Vainamoinen,
Tell it now this second turn!"

211 To this Vainamoinen answered:
"Water brought me down to Mana, 210
On the wave to Tuonela."

215 Tuoni's daughter, short and squat,
Mana's maiden, low in stature,
Said a word and spoke out thus:
"What an all-round liar you are!
If water brought you down to Mana,
On the wave to Tuonela,
Then your clothing would be dripping
And your hems would be cascading.
Tell the truth exactly now, 220
What has brought you down to Mana?"

225 So Vainamoinen lies once more:
"Fire brought me to Tuonela,
Flame to the caverns of the dead."

229 Tuoni's daughter, short and squat,
Mana's maiden, low in stature,
Said a word and spoke out thus:
"Still I count you for a liar.
If fire brought you down to Mana,
Or if flame to Tuonela, 230
Sadly would your hair be singed
And your old beard badly burned.

237 "O you Vainamoinen you!
If you want the boat from here,
Tell the truth exactly now,
Let this be the last of lying.
How did you get to Manala
Without dying of disease,
Neither in the course of nature
Nor by other doom deceased?" 240

245 Said old Vainamoinen lightly:
"If I lied a tiny bit,
Fibbed a little now and then,
I can tell the truth as well.
I was singing up a vessel,
Building it with magic charms.
Sang a day and sang another,
Even on the third day singing
When the song-sled broke beneath me
And the speaking runners halted; 250
Went to Tuoni for a gimlet,
And to Mana for an auger
To repair my broken sled,
To rebuild my lovely song-sleigh -
Bring the boat, fetch the ferry
So that I can pass the gulf,
Get across the death-dark river!"

263 Now the daughter of Tuoni scolded,
Maid of Mana cried and cackled:
"O you fool you, mad with madness, 260
Short on brains and long on folly-
Came to Tuoni without cause,
Mana's house without a sickness!
Better would it be for you
To return to your own country -
Many there are who enter here,
Few there are who e'er return.

273 Said old Vainamoinen then:
"Women change their mind halfway,
Not a man, however lowly, 270
Not the worst of good-for-nothings -
Bring the boat, fetch the ferry!"

279 Tuoni's daughter brings the boat,
Takes old Vainamoinen over,
Over gulf and over river.
In these words she scolded him:
"0 you poor old Vainamoinen,
Came to Mana without dying,
Without cause to Tuonela."

287 Tuoni's wife, the kindly matron, 280
Mana's consort, good old housewife,
Served him ale then in a pitcher,
In a tankard with two handles;
Over-courteously she added:
"Drink it down, old Vainamoinen."

293 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Peered down closely at the pitcher.
On the bottom frogs were spawning,
Worms were coiling at the rim.
Staring down at them he said: 290
"I did not come here for drinking,
Guzzling out of Mana's goblets,
Lapping up these Tuoni tankards;
All the drinkers get is dmnk,
Drainers of the jug are doomed."

303 Said the mistress of Tuonela:
"Bad luck on you, Vainamoinen.
Why then did you come to Mana,
Why to the house of Tuonela;
Tuoni did not want you yet, 300
Mana did not summon you?"

309 Said old Vainamoinen freely:
"I was working at my boat,
Singing up a brand-new vessel;
I forgot three magic words
For the finishing of the stern
And the shaping of the prow.
Since I could not find them there,
On the earth or in the air,
I had to come to Tuonela, 310
To the houses of the dead,
So that I could get those charms,
Get to know the magic words."

321 Said the dame of Tuonela:
"Tuoni will not yield his secrets,
Nor will Mana yield his power,
And, what's more, you're here forever,
Never will you go back home,
Creep back to your own dear acres."

329 Then she charmed the man to dreaming, 320
Gently laid the weary sleeper
On the fur-lined bed of Tuoni.
There the man lies slumbering
And the fellow quietly dreaming,
Yet his garments kept the vigil,
Though the man himself was sleeping.

335 A woman was there in Tuonela -
Ancient dame with pointy chin -
Spinning out a thread of iron,
Drawing out a skein of copper. 330
Spun a net a hundred fathoms
And reeled off a thousand fathoms
In one single night of summer
On a magic waterstone.

343 A man was there in Tuonela -
He's the old man with three fingers -
Weaver of the iron netting,
Maker of the copper dragnets.
Wove a net a hundred fathoms
And reeled out a thousand fathoms 340
In one single night of summer
On a magic waterstone.

351 Crooked-fingers, son of Tuoni,
Crooked-fingers, iron-tipped,
Stretched the hundred-fathom dragnet
Across the river of Tuonela,
Crosswise, lengthwise and aslant
To prevent this Vainamoinen,
Stop this man of Quiet Water
From ever escaping out of there, 350
Never while the moon shines golden,
Never out of Tuonela,
From the depths of Manala.

363 And old Vainamoinen wondered:
"Has my final ruin fallen,
Has my day of doom come on me
In the haunts of Tuonela,
In the caverns of the dead?"

369 So at once he changed his form,
And disguised he started over, 360
Like a black streak through the water,
As an otter through the rushes.
As an iron worm he crept,
Went on like a poison adder;
Slithered through the river of Tuoni,
Slipping through the net of Tuoni.

377 Crooked-fingers, son of Tuoni,
Crooked-fingers, iron-tipped,
Very early in the morning
Went to see his fool-proof nets. 370
What a catch! A hundred trout
And a thousandfold of young fry -
But not the big fish Vainamoinen,
The old man of Quiet Water.

385 Safely home from Tuonela,
Vainamoinen made this prayer:
"Never, thou good Jumala,
Never let a single person,
Never on his own decision,
Pass the gates of Manala, 380
Push his way to Tuonela!
Many there are who enter there,
Few there are who e'er return
From the homes of Tuonela,
Timeless caverns of the dead."

397 Still he spoke in solemn tones,
Set it forth in warnful words
To the growing younger people,
To the rising generation:
"Never, you children of mankind, 390
Never, never, forever never,
Put the blame upon the blameless,
Never hurt the innocent!
Drastic is the penalty
In the house of Tuonela:
There the guilty have their spaces,
Sinners have their resting places
On a couch of searing slabstone,
On a bed of burning boulders,
Under a cover of woven serpents, 400
Woven from the worms of Tuoni."

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