KALEVALA
The selected poems of Kalevala
Калевала'99

"Kalevala".


Runo 20

THE BREWING OF THE ALE

Now what shall we sing about,
With what song roll along?
We shall sing this kind of song,
With this story entertain you:
Of the feasts at Pohjola,
Drinking bouts there of the godly.

7 All was thoroughly made ready,
All provided long beforehand
In the House of Pohjola,
In the log-built halls of Northland. 10

11 What provisions did they gather,'
What supplies had been collected
For the doings there at Northland,
For the big crowd's drinking bout,
But don't ask the man far-minded,
Not that Ahti Islander!"

17 In Karelia grew an ox,
Monstrous bull in Finland fattened.
It was neither big nor small,
Just an ordinary bull calf! 20
As its tail swung in Hame,
Its head swayed on Kemi river,
Length of horn a hundred fathoms,
One and a half its muzzle thick;
For a week a weasel ran
Round the yoke from end to end,
And the flight from horn to horn
Took a swallow all day long,
In a hurry reached its goal
Without resting on the way; 30
Summer squirrel ran a month
From its nape to its tail's end,
And it did not even get there,
Did not make it in one month.

35 It was this unwieldy bull calf,
This gigantic Finnish bullock
They escorted from Karelia
To the edge of Northland's meadow.
A hundred pulled it by the horns
And a thousand by the muzzle, 40
As they guided it along,
Led it up to Pohjola.

43 As the ox came lumbering on
By the mouth of Sedgeland Bay,
Snatching hay tufts by the springs,
Its great backbone grazed the clouds.
But there was no able striker
Who could kill the awesome monster,
Not one lad of Pohjola
Even in that numerous kindred, 50
In the rising generation,
Nor among the older people.

53 An old foreigner came forward,
Virokannas the Karelian.
He addressed the ox and said:
"Wait, you wretched bullock, wait
Till I get my mighty mallet.
If I bang you with my cudgel,
Knock you on the skull with it,
Never in a second summer 60
Will you turn your snout around,
Swing your clumsy muzzle about
On the border of this meadow
By the mouth of Sedgeland Bay."

65 Thus the old man moved against it,
Virokannas went to strike it,
Worshipful One to attack it'.
Then the bullock swung its head
With its black eyes rolling madly -
Up a fir tree sprang the old man, 70
Virokannas in a thicket,
Worshipful One up a willow.

73 Now they hunted for a striker,
Butcher for the monster bullock
From Karelia's flowering meadows,
From the wide farmlands of Finland;
From the placid land of Russia,
From the venturous land of Sweden;
From the way-back fields of Lapland,
From the magic might of Finnmark; so
Even out of Tuonela,
From Manala beneath the earth;
Sought him but they did not find him,
Hunted but discovered no one.

85 Still they hunted for a striker,
Went on searching for a butcher;
Sought him on the clear sea surface,
Even on the endless combers.

89 Out of the sea a man arose,
Dark man on a gentle sea swell, 90
From the lucid, clear sea surface,
From the wide and open ocean.
Though he was not of the biggest,
He was not the very smallest -
In a bowl he might have slept
Or beneath a sieve stood upright.

97 This one looked an old man too,
But iron-handed, iron-hued;
On his head a stony hat
And shoes of stone upon his feet; 100
In his hand a golden knife,
Haft with copper ornamented.

103 Here at last it had its striker
And encountered now its killer,
Finland's bull its able butcher,
Slayer of the country's monster.

107 When he saw the ox he struck,
Struck it hard upon the nape,
Forced the bullock to its knees,
Pinned its flank against the ground. 110

111 What provisions did it yield them?
Not so much, not so little,
Just a hundred tubs of beef,
Sausages a hundred fathoms;
Seven boats with blood were laden
And six hogsheads tamped with tallow
For the feast at Pohjola,
For the banquet there in Sedgeland.

119 A house was built in Pohjola,
A large one with a mighty hall 120
Nine fathoms long and seven wide.
If a cock crowed on the ridgepole,
On the ground they could not hear it;
If a dog barked at the rear,
At the door they could not hear it.

127 There the mistress of Pohjola
Paced the floor to and fro
From the doorway to the center
While she puzzled and she pondered:
"Where now shall we get our ale? 130
How brew the table beer5 aright
For the wedding we're arranging,
For the party to be held here?
I can't brew the table beer
Nor even know the birth of ale."

137 Said an old man from the stovetop:
"Out of barley ale was born,
From the hop our famous drink,
But it's not born without water
Well boiled on a crackling fire. 140

143 "Hop, the son of merry-making,
Stuck into the ground when small,
Was plowed under like an adder,
Tossed out like a noxious weed
By the side of Kaleva's well
On the slope of Osmo's meadow.
There the little shoot came up
As a green and viny seedling;
Twined around a little tree,
Climbing upward to the tree top. 150

153 "Old Man Goodluck sowed his barley
In the new-plowed field of Osmo.
There the barley sprouted nicely
And abundantly it flourished
At the end of Osmo's clearing,
New field of the Kalevalander.

159 "After a little time had passed,
From the tree the hop hallooed,
Cried the barley from the field
And the water from Kaleva's well: 160
'When will we three get together,
When unite with one another;
Living singly is so lonely,
Two or three together happier.'

167 "Osmo's daughter, brewer of ale
And maker of the table beers,
Went and took the grains of barley,
Picked up just six kernels of it;
Then she added seven hop pods
And eight dipperfuls of water; 170
Put the kettle on the fire
And began to boil the mixture.
And she cooked the barley beer
In one hasting day of summer
On the misty point of land
At the head of Foggy Island,
Where she put it in a tub,
In a new-made birchwood cask.

181 "Though the mixture was well boiled,
Still the brew did not ferment, 180
'What should be put in she wondered,
'What ingredient should be looked for
As a quickener for the ale,
Starter for the table beer?'

189 "Kaleva's daughter, lovely maiden,
Graceful-fingered and light-footed,
Always quick in every motion,
Pacing where the floorboards meet
At the center of the chamber,
Busy with one thing or another, 190
Stepping there between two kettles
Saw a splinter on the floor -
Picked the splinter from the floor.

199 "Looks it over, turns it over:
'What would come of this, I wonder,
In the hands of some fair maiden,
Fingertips of some good virgin
If I put it in her hand,
Fingertips of that good virgin?

205 "So she put it in her hand, 200
Fingertips of that good virgin.
With both palms, with both hands
The young maiden, that good virgin
Rubbed it onto both her thighs:
A white squirrel was delivered.

211 "Said the virgin to her offspring,
Thus advised her little squirrel:
'Little squirrel, woodland treasure,
Earth's delight and woodland flower,
Run now quickly where I tell you, 210
Where I tell you and I urge you
To that pleasant forest land,
To the woods of watchful Tapio.
Scamper up a little tree,
Slyly up a bushy-topped one
To avoid the eagle's talons,
Lest the bird of air should strike you.
Bring some fir cones from a fir tree
And some scalings from a pine cone;
Bring them to the maiden's hand 220
For the brew of Osmo's daughter.'

227 "Well the squirrel knew its way.
Bushy tail to make the circuit
Ran that great long distance quickly
And traversed the space between
Across one forest and along
Another, slantwise through a third
To that pleasant forest land,
To the woods of watchful Tapio.

235 "There it saw three timber fir trees 230
And saw also four small pine trees;
In a hollow climbed a fir tree,
On the heath ran up a pine tree -
And the eagle did not catch it,
Bird of air did not strike it.

241 "From the fir it broke off fir cones,
From the pine some tufted needles;
In its claws it hid the fir cones,
In its paws it wrapped them up;
Brought these to the maiden's hand, 240
Fingertips of that good virgin.

247 Osmo's daughter gladly put them
In her ale and table beer,
But the ale is not fermenting,
And the young drink does not quicken.

251 "Osmo's daughter, brewer of ale
And maker of the table beers,
Once again reflected on it:
'Now what should be added to this
As a quickener for the ale, 250
Starter for the table beer?'

257 "Kaleva's daughter, lovely maiden,
Graceful-fingered and light-footed,
Always quick in every motion,
Pacing where the floorboards meet
At the center of the chamber,
Busy with one thing or other,
Stepping there between two kettles
Saw a wood chip on the floor -
Picked the wood chip from the floor. 260

267 "Looks it over, turns it over:
'What could come of this, I wonder,
In the hands of some fair maiden,
Fingertips of some good virgin,
If I put it in her hand,
Fingertips of that good virgin?'

273 "So she put it in her hand,
Fingertips of that good virgin.
With both palms, with both hands
The young maiden, that good virgin 270
Rubbed it onto both her thighs:
Golden-breasted marten born.

279 "Said the virgin to the marten,
Thus advised her orphan child:
'My dear marten, little bird,
Money-fur, my beautiful!
Go now quickly where I tell you,
Where I tell you and I urge you
To the rocky lair of bruin,
Homestead of the forest bear 280
Where the bears are fiercely fighting,
Where the bruins live so harshly.
Gather up the yeast by fistfuls,
Cup the leaven in your hands;
Bring it to the maiden's hand,
To the shoulder of Osmo's daughter.'

293 "Well the marten knew its way.
The gold-breasted, frisking lightly,
Covered that long distance quickly
And traversed the space between, 290
Across one river and along
Another, slantwise over a third
To the rocky lair of bruin,
To his cave among the rock piles.
There indeed the bears were fighting
And the bruins living harshly,
Living on an iron cliff,
Existing on a steely mountain.

305 "From the bear's mouth yeast was bubbling
Leaven from the dreadful jaws, 300
But the golden marten got it,
Scooped the yeast up by the handful,
Scooped the leaven by the fistful;
Brought it to the maiden's hand,
Fingertips of that good virgin.

311 "Osmo's daughter poured it out
In the ale and table beer,
But the ale does not ferment,
Man's good joy-juice does not bubble.

315 "Osmo's daughter, brewer of ale 310
And maker of the table beers,
Once again reflected on it:
'Now what should be added to this
As a quickener for the ale,
Starter for the table beer?'

321 "Kaleva's daughter, lovely maiden,
Graceful-fingered and light-footed,
Always quick in every motion,
Pacing where the floorboards meet
At the center of the chamber, 320
Busy with one thing or other,
Stepping there between two kettles
Saw a pea pod on the floor -
And she picked it from the floor.

331 "Looks it over, turns it over:
'What would come of this, I wonder,
In the hands of some fair maiden,
Fingertips of some good virgin,
If I put it in her hand,
Fingertips of that good virgin. 330

337 "So she put it in her hand,
Fingertips of that good virgin.
With both palms, with both hands
The young maiden, that good virgin
Rubbed it onto both her thighs:
And a honeybee was born.

343 "Said the virgin to the birdling,
Thus cajoled her honeybee:

345 "'Honeybee, elusive bird,
King of all the meadow flowers! 340
Fly now quickly where I tell you,
Where I tell you and I urge you,
To an island in the ocean,
To an islet in the sea.
There a girl lies fast asleep
With her copper belt unfastened;
Round her honey-hay is waving,
On her loins are honeyed grasses.
Bring the honey on your wings,
Carry nectar in your pockets 350
From the tender hay tips bring it,
From the cups of golden flowers;
Bring it to the maiden's hand,
To the shoulder of Osmo's daughter.'

361 "Then the bee, elusive bird,
Flew and hurried on its mission,
Flew that lengthy distance quickly
And traversed the way between;
Journey shortened as it flew
Across one sea, along a second, 360
Over a third, veering slantwise
To the island in the ocean,
To the islet in the sea.
There it saw the young girl sleeping,
Tinny-breasted one reclining
There upon a nameless meadow,
On a honey-meadow's border,
Golden haystalk in her lap,
Stalk of silver in her belt.

375 Then it dips its wings in honey, 370
Soaks its mantle in the nectar
From the brightly-colored haytips,
From the cups of golden blossoms;
Brought it to the maiden's hand,
Fingertips of that good virgin.

381 "Osmo's daughter gladly put it
In her ale and table beer;
Then the ale began fermenting,
The young drink to bubble over,
Foaming in the wooden tub, 380
In the new-made birchwood cowl,
Foaming high up to the handles,
Wanting to run up and over,
Flooding down along the floor.

391 "After a little time passed by
Like a tiny rash of rain,
Men arrived there for the drinking,
Most especially Lemminkainen,
Who got drunk, the man far-minded,
Very drunk, the rummy rascal, 390
On the ale of Osmo's daughter,
On the beer of Kaleva's daughter.

399 "Osmo's daughter, brewer of ale
And maker of the table beers,
Put the matter into words:
'Ah, the miserable day of mine
When I brewed this awful ale,
Such unheard-of table beer:
Foaming up and foaming over,
Billowing down along the floor.' 400

407 "From the tree a red bird sang,
From beneath the eaves a thrush:
'No, the brew is not a bad one,
It is really quite a good drink.
All it needs is to be barreled,
Aging in a stone-built cellar
In a good stout oak-wood barrel
Banded tight with copper hooping.'

415 "Such the origin of ale
And the birth of table beer, 410
Beverage of the Kalevalanders.
Then it got so good a name
And its famous reputation,
For it was indeed good ale,
Excellent beverage for the prudent:
Warmed the women up to laughter,
Got the menfolk in good humor
And the sillies into clowning,
Even made the pious merry."

425 Then the mistress of Pohjola, 420
Having heard how ale was born,
Got a big new wooden tub
Which she poured half full of water;
Nicely measured in the barley,
With a lot of hop pods added.
She began to boil the ale,
To prepare the potent tonic
In the new-made wooden tub,
In the new-made birchwood cowl.

435 For long months the stones were heating 430
And all summer water boiling;
Stands of backwoods logs were burned,
Wells of water carried off
So that tree-sparse were the backwoods
And low in water were the wells
By the time the ale was brewed
And the table beer was ready
For that mighty Northland party,
For that hardy crowd of drinkers.

445 On the island smoke was rising, 440
Fire at the headland point,
And indeed thick smoke was climbing,
Filling up the air with smog
From the blazing fireplaces,
Many fiercely burning fires;
Covered half the Northland acres,
And all wide Karelia darkened.

453 All the people come to stare,
Stare and in one voice cry out:
"Where does all that smoke there come from 450
And the smog up in the air? :
Ifs too small to be a war-smoke,
Yet too big for herder's campfire."

459 Lemminkainen's gentle mother,
Very early in the morning,
Went for water from the spring.
When she sees the thick smoke floating
Over the northern land, she says:
"Those must be the smokes of war,
Beacon fires sending signals." 460

467 Ahti Islander himself,
He the handsome man far-minded,
Watches, turning here and there,
Thinks it over, and he wonders:
"I must go and see it nearer,
Watch it from a closer vantage,
Where that smoke is coming from
And the smog that fills the air.
Could they be the smokes of war,
Beacon fires sending signals?" 470

477 So he went to see up closer
What the source of fire might be:
They were not the smokes of war,
Beacon fires sending signals;
They were only brewing-fires
For the ale and table beer
At the mouth of Sedgeland Bay,
In the shelter of the headland.

485 There he glowers, one eye crossed,"
One eye crossed, the other squinting, 480
With his mouth a little crooked.
Watching there, at length he spoke,
Calling from across the bay:
"My good mother-in-law to be,
You, kind mistress of the North!
Brew a special batch of ale,
Boil a worthy table beer
For regaling all the crowd,
Specially for Lemminkainen
At his very own, own wedding 490
To your lovely younger daughter."

499 Now at last the ale was ready,
Man's good joy-juice well-prepared.
Now the red ale has been brewed,
Lovely table beer fermenting
To be laid away to sleep
In a deep and stone-built cellar,
There inside an oak-wood barrel,
There behind a bung of copper.

507 Then the mistress of Pohjola 500
Started all the stew pots cooking,
Kettles bubbling, skillets singing,
And she baked the good fat loaves,
Shaping up huge barley cakes
For the friendly country people
And to feed the big crowd coming
To the feast at Pohjola,
Drinking bout in foggy Sedgeland.

517 Now the loaves of bread were baked
And the barley cakes were ready. 5io
Quickly a little time passed by
Like a tiny rash of rain:
Ale was bubbling in the barrel,
In the cellar beer was restless:
"If my drinkers would but come,
If those guzzlers would but get me
A worthy warbler, skillful singer!"

527 So they sought a singer for it,
Worthy warbler, skillful singer,
One entranced with music's beauty. 520
Tried a salmon as a singer,
Then a pike to be their cuckoo.
But the salmon is no singer
And the pike is not a cuckoo,
For the salmon's jaws are crooked
And the pike's teeth far apart.

537 Once again they sought a singer,
Worthy singer, clear-voiced warbler,
One entranced with music's beauty.
Tried a young boy as a singer, 530
Boy to be their singing cuckoo.
But a young boy is no singer
Nor a drooly-mouth a cuckoo;
Young boy's tongue is stiff and clumsy
And the palate undeveloped.

547 Impatient now, the red beer threatens,
And the young drink starts to conjure,
Pent up in an oak-wood barrel
And behind a bung of copper:
"If you do not get a singer, 540
Worthy singer, clear-voiced warbler,
One entranced with music's beauty,
I will kick the hoops apart
And run right out through the bottom!"

557 Said the mistress of Pohjola,
Sending out her invitations,
Messengers to make the rounds:
"Little maid, most faithful servant,
Call the common folk together,
Crowd of menfolk to the drinking. 550
Call the wretched, call the poor,
Call the blind and even cripples,
Even sleigh-bound paralytics!
Row the blind here in the dories,
Have the lame ones come on horseback
And the cripples in the sleighs!

571 "Summon all the Pohjolanders,
Summon all the Kalevalanders
And invite old Vainamoinen
As official singer for us - 560

577 "But," the little servant asked her,
"But why leave out Lemminkainen,
Ahti Islander alone?"

581 Says the mistress of Pohjola:
"Here is why you do not ask him,
That one, wayward Lemminkainen:
Just because he's always brawling,
Always looking for a fight; 570
Acted shamelessly at weddings
And at parties causing scandal,
And has laughed with virgin maidens,
Ruffling up their Sunday garments."

591 "But," the little servant asked her,
"How am I to recognize him
As to leave him uninvited?
I don't know the house of Ahti,
Homestead of the man far-minded."

597 Said the mistress of Pohjola: 580
"You will know him well enough,
That one, Ahti Islander:
He is living on an island
Surrounded by the sea, the rascal,
By the widest of the bays
In the shelter of Cape Far."

605 Then the maiden made the calls,
Made the calls in six directions,
And in eight the invitations:
Summoned all the Pohjolanders, 590
Summoned all the Kalevalanders,
Even the lean and landless peasants,
Workmen in their narrow tunics.
Ahti lad, the one and only-
He alone was uninvited.
Serving of the country people,
And the feeding of the throng?

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