The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 19


Ilmarinen, smith eternal,
Came into the house himself
Underneath the favored roof.

5 There a pot of mead was brought;
Tankard full of honey mead
Was put in Ilmarinen's hand,
But he would not drink it, saying:
"I will never, never at all,
While the golden moonlight glimmers,
Never will I drink these drinks 10
Till I get my very own one.
Is she ready, ready for me?
I have waited, waited long."

15 Said the mistress of Pohjola:
"If the waiter has his worries,
The awaited too has troubles:
She has one shoe halfway on
And the other less than that.
Your beloved will be ready,
Ready for your proper taking 20
When you plow the field of adders,
Turn the turf of serpents' meadow
With no movement of the plow,
With no tremor of the plowshare.
Long ago the demon plowed it,
And the devil furrowed it
With a plowshare made of copper,
With a plow point fiery-bladed.
Even my poor boy, my son,
Left it only halfway done." 30

33 Then the craftsman Ilmarinen
Went into his sweetheart's chamber
Where he spoke of vows exchanged:
"Child of night, maid of twilight,
Do you still recall the day
When I made the brand-new Sampo
And devised the ciphered cover?
Then you swore an oath eternal
In the sight of Jumala,
In the face of the Atmighty 40
Promising you'd come to me,
To a good and worthy man
And to be my friend forever;
Little chicken of my bosom,
Now your mother will not yield for you,
Will not give her daughter to me
Till I plow the field of adders
Turn the turf of serpents' meadow."

51 Then his sweetheart aided him
As she gave him cunning counsel 50
"Oho, you blacksmith Ilmarinen,
You eternal hammerer!
Make yourself a plow of gold
Artfully adorned with silver
With it plow the field of adders,
Turn the turf of serpents' meadow."

59 Then the craftsman Ilmarinen
Put the gold into the forge,
Set the silver in the fire;
And from these he forged a plow. 60
Hammered out iron footgear
And a pair of iron leggings>
And he puts them on his legs,
Covers up his shanks with them.
Then he donned his iron shirt
With steel belts he girds himself;
Next he took his iron gauntlets,
And he got his rock-hard Buttons.
Then he took his fleet-foot gelding,
Harnessed up the good horse quickly 70
And went out to plow the field,
Went to furrow up the meadow.

75 When he saw the snake heads rearing,
Heard the hissing of the adders,
He began to chant the snake charm:
"O you worm, you god's creation!
Who has raised your nose so high,
Who has urged you, who exhorted,
That you lift your head erect,
Holding up your neck so stiffly? 80
Out of the way, slither off,
Streaking through the withered stubble,
Weave away beneath the brushwood,
Undulate along the meadow.
If you raise your head from there,
Ukko-god will crush your skull
With iron hail and steely arrows."

91 Then he plowed the field of adders,
Furrowed out the reptiles' ground;
Lifted adders to the surface, 90
Snakes onto the new-turned earth.
When he came from there he said:
"I have plowed the field of adders,
Furrowed out the reptiles' ground,
Turned the turf of serpents' field.
Will you give your daughter now,
Let me have my one and only?"

101 Said the dame of Pohjola
"I will give my daughter to you,
You may have your one and only 100
When you bring the bear of Tuoni,
Bridle up the wolf of Mana
From the wilderness of Tuoni,
From behind the house of Death.
Hundreds have gone there to do it
But not one of them came back."

111 Then again smith Ilmarinen
Went into his sweetheart's chamber,
Told her what was wanted of him:
"What a job she's given me! 110
Bridle up the wolf of Mana
And bring back the bear of Tuoni
From the wilderness of Tuoni,
From behind the house of Death."

119 So his sweetheart aided him
As she gave him cunning counsel:
"Oho, you blacksmith Ilmarinen,
You eternal hammerer!
Forge yourself a steely bit
And an iron bridle also 120
On a single waterstone4
In the foam of triple rapids.
With them bring the bear of Tuoni,
Bridle up the wolf of Mana."

129 Then the craftsman Ilmarinen,
The eternal hammerer,
Hammered out a steely bit
And an iron bridle ready
On a single waterstone
In the foam of triple rapids. 130

135 As he went to do the bridling
He implored the spirit powers:
"Mistmaid, daughter of the fog,
Sift the fine mist through your sieve,
Sifting down the spreading fog
On the haunts where game is hunted
That they do not hear me coming,
Do not run away before me."

143 Got the wolf with bit in mouth,
Brought the bear in iron fetters 140
From the heath of Tuonela,
From the blue haze of the backwoods.
Coming back from there he said:
"Woman, give me now your daughter!
I have brought the bear of Tuoni,
Bridled up the wolf of Mana."

151 Said the dame of Pohjola:
"I will give the little duckling,
You may have your blue scaup only
When you catch the giant scale-pike, 150
Monstrous fat and agile fish
From the river of Tuonela,
From the depths of Manala
Without hauling up a seine,
Without flipping out a handnet.
Hundreds have gone fishing there
But not one of them came back."

163 By this time he felt tormented,
In a most precarious state,
But he went in to his sweetheart: 160
"The jobs she orders me to do,
Each one better than before!
Now to catch the giant scale-fish
Out of Tuoni's death-dark river,
From the timeless stream of Mana
Without a seine, without a net,
With no fishing gear at all."

175 So his sweetheart aided him
As she gave him cunning counsel:
"Oho, you blacksmith Ilmarinen! 170
Don't you worry about that now.
Go and forge a fire-swift eagle,
Hammer out a flaming griffin.5
You can catch the big pike with it,
Monstrous fat and agile fish
From the death-dark river of Tuoni,
From the depths of Manala."

185 So the craftsman Ilmarinen,
The eternal hammerer,
Went and forged a fire-swift eagle, 180
Hammered out a flaming griffin;
Made the talons out of iron,
And the claws he made of steel,
Wings as big as sides of vessels.
Then he mounted on the wings,
Sat upon the eagle's back,
On the elbow of the wing-bone.

195 Then he gave the bird directions,
Warned the griffin of its duty:
"Little eagle, precious birdling! 190
Go now, fly where I direct you:
Down to Tuonela's black river,
To the depths of Manala!
Strike the monstrous scaly pike,
Monstrous fat and agile fish!"

203 Then that eagle, stately bird,
Soared away on beating wings,
Searching for the scaly pike,
Hunting for the toothed horror
In the river of Tuonela, 200
In the depths of Manala.
One wing verges on the water
While the other sweeps the sky;
Raked the river with its talons,
Splashed the skerries with its beak.

213 Then the smith began to search,
To drag the river of Tuonela
While the eagle watched beside him.
From the river a water demon
Rose to catch smith Ilmarinen, 210
But the eagle caught the demon,
Caught it by the nape and twisted;
Trod it down beneath the water,
To the black ooze at the bottom.

223 Now appears the pike of Tuoni,
Upward slides the water-dog.
It was not so smallish small,
Nor so very biggish big:
Tongue as long as two ax handles,
Teeth the length of one rake handle; 220
Gullet wide as triple rapids,
Back the length of seven vessels -
And it wanted Ilmarinen,
Was about to eat the craftsman.

233 Came the eagle, bird of air,
Talons hooking for the prey.
It is not so smallish small
Nor so very biggish big:
Beak a hundred fathoms long,
Gullet wide as six great rapids; 230
Tongue the length of six good lances,
Five scythes was the length of talon.
It saw the monstrous scaly pike,
And it pounces on that fish,
Lashing at it, counterscaling,
Ripping scales from tail to head.

245 Then the pike, the scaly monster,
Monstrous fat and agile fish,
Dives and drags the eagle downward
Underneath the shining surface, 240
But the eagle, straining skyward,
Soars aloft into the air,
Swirling up the blackish ooze,
Upward to the clearer waters.

253 To and fro it flew and hovered -
Then it tried a second time:
Struck one talon in the shoulder,
Into the monster's arching backbone,
Struck another into a mountain,
Steely mountain, cliff of iron. 250
Off the rock the talon slipped,
From the cliff the claw rebounded,
So the awkward water monster
Dived and tore itself away
From the talons of the eagle,
From the gryphon's grasping claws -
But the talons leave their marks
On the ribs and on the shoulders.

269 Then the iron-taloned eagle
Makes another violent effort: 260
With a lightning flash of wings,
Eyes ablaze with bright fire,
Seized the big pike in its talons,
In its claws the water-dog;
Raised the monstrous scaly pike,
Hauled the monster of the water
From beneath the billowy depths
To the clearer surface waters.

279 Thus the iron-taloned eagle
On the third try7 did indeed 270
Get the scaly pike of Tuoni,
Monstrous fat and agile fish,
From the river of Tuonela,
From the depths of Manala.
Water did not flow like water,
Choked with scalings of the big pike;
Air did not smell like air,
Thick with feathers of the eagle.

289 Then the iron-taloned eagle 280
Bore the monstrous scaly pike
To an acorn-ladened oak branch,
To the top of a pollard pine.
There it tasted all the savors,
Slit the belly of the pike,
Ripped the rib-cage into ribbons,
Torn the head off out of spite.

297 But to this the smith objected:
"0 you, you miserable vulture!
What sort of bird, what sort of beast, 290
What kind of creature can you be
To have tasted all the savors,
Slit the belly of the pike,
Ripped the rib-cage into ribbons,
Tore the head off out of spite!

305 But the iron-taloned eagle,
Angered by this, flew away,
Soaring up among the clouds
To the shore of one long cloudbank.
Clouds were scudding, sky was creaking
And the lid of heaven tilted. 300
Broken were the bow of Ukko
And the horns from off the crescent.

313 Ilmarinen took the fish head
To his future mother-in-law
As a present for her House,
And he said on entering:
"There's an everlasting chair
For the House of good Pohjola."

319 Then he put the question to her:
"Now I've plowed the field of adders, 310
Furrowed out the reptiles' grounds;
Bridled up the wolves of Mana,
Chained the bears of Tuonela;
Caught the monstrous scaly pike,
The monstrous fat and agile fish
From that river of Tuonela,
From the depths of Manala.
Will the maiden now be given,
Will the girl be granted to me?"

331 Said the mistress of Pohjola: 320
"But you've done your job so poorly,
Severed the head and split the belly,
Even ripped the rib-cage open-
And you've tasted all the savors."

337 Said the craftsman Ilmarinen:
"You can't capture game undamaged
Even from the best of places,
Let alone from Tuonela,
From the depths of Manala.
Is the one I yearned for ready, 330
Ready now the one I longed for?"

345 Graciously the mistress answered:
"She is ready, your heart's desire,
Ready now the one you longed for.
I must give my little duckling
And the wild duck be prepared
To become the lifelong partner
Of the smith, of Ilmarinen,
To be fondled on his knee,
A chick enfolded in his arms." 340

355 A child was sitting on the floor,
From the floor it sang a song:
"To the halls of this fine castle
Came a bird, one bird too many,
From the northeast flew an eagle
And across the sky a hawk:
One wing touched the edge of heaven
While the other swept the waves;
With his tail he brushed the sea
While his head is high in heaven; 350
Peering, turning here and there,
Hovering, fluttering all about -
Landed on the men's great castle;
With its beak it raps and raps,
But the menfolk's roof is iron -
So he could not get in there.

371 "Peering, turning here and there,
Hovering, fluttering all about -
Landed on the women's castle;
With its beak it raps and raps, 360
But the women's roof is copper -
So he could not get in there.

377 "Peering, turning here and there,
Hovering, fluttering all about -
Landed on the maidens' castle,
But the maidens' roof is linen -
So he made his way in there.

383 "First it settled on the chimney,
Then it dropped down on the roof;
Moved aside the window-board, 370
Sat upon the windowsill -
Green-feathered, hundred-feathered bird
On the wall where log-ends meet.

389 "It surveys the long-haired maidens,
Scanned the girls with hair unkerchiefed
For the choicest of the bevy,
Loveliest of the long-haired maidens
With her beaded headdress gleaming,
Brightest and the most adored
Of the girls with garlands crowned. 380

395 "Then the eagle seizes her,
Hawk-bird catches hold of her;
Grabs the best of all the bevy,
Loveliest of all the ducklings,
Tenderest and most charming
And the fairest of complexion.
She was the one the eagle seized,
In its long claw bore away,
She who held her head erect,
The most favored for her figure, 390
Duckling with the softest feathers
And most elegant of plumage."

407 Said the mistress to the child,
Louhi to the singing child:
"How did you know, lucky one,
Or where learn, my golden apple,
Of the maiden growing here,
How her flaxen hair was waving?
Was it the glimmer of her silver
Or the rumor of her gold? 400
Was it the sunshine of our day
Or the gleaming of our moonlight?"

417 Said the child from the floor,
Sang the baby in reply:
"This is how the lucky one,
Lucky mole has found his way
Into the maiden's famous home,
Onto the well-kept rich estate:
Great her father's reputation
For the sailing of great ships, 410
But her mother's fame was greater
For the baking of great loaves,
Baking of great wheaten loaves
And her nourishing of strangers.

429 "This is how the lucky knew it,
How an utter stranger learned it
That the girl-child had grown up,
Had attained her maidenhood:
Once when walking in the yard,
In the yard below the storerooms 420
Very early in the morning,
Very early in the dawning,
He saw a rope of soot arising
And the smoke was thickly streaming
Over the maiden's famous home,
Homestead of the growing girl.
She herself was grinding grain,
Swaying lightly on the quern staff.
Like a cuckoo called the quern staff,
Like a wild goose sang the quern eye, 430
While the disk cried like a bunting
And the stone like beads was clicking.

447 "Then again as I was sauntering
By the border of a field:
She was in a field of bedstraw,
Skipping round the yellow moorland,
Tending pots of crimson dye,
Boiling pans of yellow dye.
On a third time I was passing
Underneath the maiden's window 440
When I heard the sound of weaving,
In her hand the batten thumping
And her shuttle quickly slipping
Like a weasel through a rockpile,
And the reed blades too rap-rapping
Like a pecker on a tree trunk,
With the warp beam turning, turning
Like a squirrel on a tree branch."

463 Said the mistress to the maiden:
'Well, well, how now, my little maid! 450
Didn't I always tell you, warn you
Not to cuckoo in the fir groves
Nor to sing along the valleys,
Not to show your neck so archly
Nor the whiteness of your arms,
Not the fullness of your bosom
Nor any other charm of body.

473 "All this autumn I've been saying,
And I sang it through the summer,
Even through the hurried springtime, 460
Already through the second sowing:
'Let us build a hidey-house
With small peephole windows in it
Where a girl can weave her cloth,
Keep the heddles softly humming
Out of hearing of the suitors,
Suitors from the Suomi land."

483 Said the infant from the floor,
Fortnight baby thus responded:
"Easily a horse is hidden, 470
Sheltered well the shaggy-coated,
But it's hard to hide a maiden,
Hide her long, uncovered tresses.
If you built a fort of stone
In the middle of the ocean,
There to keep your maiden safely
And to raise your growing chickens,
Maidens will not keep in hiding
Nor will virgins grow mature
Without a crowd of suitors coming, 480
Couriers from the countryside,
Men with high-peaked helmets on,
Riding on their steel-shod horses."

499 It was then that Vainamoinen,
Head bowed down, depressed in spirit,
Pondered as he started homeward:
"Ah me, a worn-out man already,
That I did not know it sooner,
To get married in my youth,
Find a partner in good time! 490
Foolishly a man regrets
Who regrets an early marriage,
Getting children in one's vigor,
Setting up a family early."

511 Vainamoinen then gave warning,
The man of Quiet Water cautioned
Elders seeking maiden brides
Or desiring virgin beauties.
He forbade them swimming races,
Even rowing on a wager 500
Or competing for a bride
With another, a younger man.


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