The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 21


There the mistress of Pohjola,
The old wife of Sedgeland waited.
She was busy out-of-doors
Tending to her household chores;
There she heard a great commotion-
On the marshes whips were cracking,
Sleighs came rumbling on the shore.
She looked northwest and looked southward,
Wondering what it might portend:
"What are these folk spying for 10
On my shores, O wretched me?
Could it be a big war party?"

13 She went out to see more closely,
To examine things more nearly:
It was not a big war party,
Just the bridegroom's own big party,
Goodly crowd of country people
With her son-in-law among them.

19 The mistress of Pohjola herself,
Foggy Sedgeland's old wife said 20
When she saw her son-in-law:
"Oh, I thought the wind was roaring
Or a woodpile rumbling down,
Breakers thrashing on the shore,
Pebbles rattling on the shingle.
I went on to look more closely,
To examine things more nearly,
But no wind at all was roaring
And no woodpile rumbling down,
Breakers thrashing on the shore, 30
Pebbles rattling on the shingle.
It's the bridegroom's party coming,
Coming twice a hundred strong.

35 "How do I know my son-in-law
In the midst of all these people?
As I know the chokecherry tree
From among all other trees,
Or the oak tree from the brushwood,
Or the moon from the stars of heaven.

41 He rides on a black, black stallion 40
As if on a hungry wolf
Or a raven chasing prey,
Or the lion-bird, the griffin."
On the shaft-bows bells are ringing,
Six gold orioles are singing,
Seven other bells are jingling,
Seven blue ones on the traces."

49 There's a clatter in the lane,
Clank of shafts along the well-path:
Now the bridegroom is arriving 50
With his party at the farmyard
In the midst of all his people,
Goodly crowd of country people.
Son-in-law is not the first one
Nor is he the very last one.

57 "Up, boys, and outdoors, you lads,
To the farmyard, all you tall ones,
To undo the horses' breastbands,
Loose the traces, lower the shafts,
Bring the bridegroom to the house." 60

63 There the bridegroom's horse is running
And his basket sleigh is coasting
Into the yard of the mother-in-law.
And she shouts: "Ho, you slavey,
Handsome hired man of the village!
Go attend the bridegroom's stallion
With the white blaze on its forehead,
And undo its coppered harness
And remove its tinny breastband,
Leather traces, sapling shaft-bows. 70
Take the son-in-law's good stallion,
Lead it with the greatest care
By silken rein and silver bridle
To the softest place for rolling,
To a soft and level meadow
Where new-fallen snow lies softly
On the milk-white pasture land.

83 "Water my son-in-law's young horse,
Water it at the nearby spring"
Still unfrozen, bubbling over so
Under root of golden fir,
Under bushy-branching pine tree.

89 "Feed my son-in-law's young horse
From a golden splint-work basket,
From a copper bushel feed him
Loaves of cleanly sifted barley,
Mash of boiled-up summer wheat,
And with well-ground summer rye.

95 "Take the bridegroom's stallion then
To the most appropriate manger, 90
To the highest, driest place,
To the rearmost farmyard stable.
Tie it by a golden loop
To a ring of iron fastened
To a stanchion curly-grained.
Give it half a peck of oats
And a second one of hay tips,
Then a third of fine bran middlings.

107 "Curry well the bridegroom's stallion
With a comb of walrus bone 100
So that not a hair is broken,
•Not a long hair out of place.
Cover it with a silver blanket,
Golden hood and cloth of copper.

115 "Now, you village boys, good fellows!
Take the son-in-law inside,
With no hat to hide his hair
And no gloves upon his hands.

119 "Wait now, let me look and see:
Can he get into the house, 110
Or must we take the very doors off,
Pull the jambs down, lift the lintel,
Sink the threshold, break the door-wall,
And remove the very groundsill?

127 "No, the bridegroom cannot enter,
Our good gift beneath the ceiling
Till we take the very doors off,
Pull the jambs down, lift the lintel
So as not to knock his hat off,
Sink the threshold, break the door wall 120
And remove the very groundsill,
For the son-in-law's too tall;
He is taller by a head,
Higher by an ear at least.

137 "Let the lintels now be lifted
That he need not doff his hat,
Let the threshold so be sunken
That his shoe heel does not touch it,
Let the door frames be removed
That the doorway may be wider 130
As the son-in-law comes in,
As the good man steps inside.

145 "Thanks to gracious Jumala,
Son-in-law is coming in!
Wait, I want to look around,
Glance about the house inside:
Are the tables cleanly washed,
Wallside benches swabbed with water,
Puncheons scrubbed, floorboards swept?

153 "I am looking at the house, 140
And I do not recognize it -
Of what wood the hut is made,
How the shelter ever got here;
Of what the walls have been erected,
Even how the floors were laid.

159 "Side wall made of hedgehog bones,
Rear wall out of reindeer bones;
Bones of wolverine the door wall,
Only lamb bones for the door frames.

163 "Rafters made of apple wood, 150
Uprights out of twisty timber;
Larder shelf of lily pads,
Scales of bream upon the ceiling.

167 "And the long bench made of iron,
Wallside benches German puncheon,
Table traced with golden figures,
And the floor is smooth with silk.

171 "Here the stove is cast of copper
And the hearth of goodly slabstone;
Fireplace made of smooth sea stones, 160
Inglenook of Kaleva's wood.
Bridegroom comes into the house,
Steps in underneath the roof,
And he said as he enters:
"Welcome here, 0 Jumala,
Underneath this famous rooftree,
Underneath this splendid ceiling!"

181 Said the mistress of Pohjola:
"Health to you, too, on your coming
Into this tiny hut of ours, 170
Into such a lowly shelter,
Firwood room, our piney nest.

187 "Come, my little serving maid,
Hired-out servant of the village,
Bring a birchbark torchlight here
And light up a tarry splint
So that I may see him better,
See his eyes, what color they are-
Are they blue or are they red,
Or as white as linen cloth." 180

195 The little drudge, the serving maid,
Little hireling of the village,
Lighted up a strip of birchbark,
Brought a light on a tarry splint.

199 "Birchbark light is harsh and glaring,
Black the smoke of tarry splint
Which would make his face all smudgy
And his handsome figure blacken.
Bring the fire on the birchbark
To light up a waxen candle!" 190

205 The little drudge, the serving maid,
Little hireling of the village,
Brought the fire on the birchbark
And lighted up the waxen candle.

209 Then the white smoke of the wax
And the bright flame of the birchbark
Lit the son-in-law's bright eyes,
Lit the son-in-law's fine features.

213 "Now I see the bridegroom's eyes:
They are neither blue nor red 200
And not even linen white,
But as white as is the sea foam
And as brown as is the seaweed
And as lovely as the sea sedge.

219 "Now you village boys, good fellows,
Take this son-in-law of mine
To the biggest seat, the highest,
Back turned toward the blue rear wall
At the head of the red table
Facing the invited people, 210
Clatter of the country people."

227 Then the mistress of Pohjola
With much food and drink regaled them,
Fed their mouths with melted butter
And with cream cakes by the fistful,
Treating all those guests invited,
Most of all her son-in-law.

233 There was salmon on the platters
And beside it pork aplenty;
Cups were brimming, bowls all heaping 220
For the pleasure of the feasters,
Most of all the son-in-law.

239 Said the mistress of Pohjola:
"Now, my little serving maid!
Bring the beer out in a pitcher,
Serve it in the two-eared tankards10
To these guests that I've invited,
Especially to my son-in-law."

245 So the little serving maid,
Drudging laborer for money, 230
Lets the pitcher do its duty
As the five-hooped mugs go round,
Giving a beer-rinse to the beards,
Whitening whiskers with its foam,
Whiskers of the guests invited,
Most of all the son-in-law's.

253 "What more can the ale do now?"
Said the five-hooped tankard then
When it was beside the singer,
By the most respected minstrel. 240
There indeed was Vainamoinen,
He, the very soul of. music,
Master singer, truest artist.

261 First he took his ale, then said:
"O you ale, you pleasant brew!
Let no man drink up for nothing.
Set them all to singing now,
Golden mouths to cuckooing!
Household masters may be wondering
And the mistresses all puzzling: 250
Have our songs already withered,
Have the tongues of joy departed,
Or perhaps I made bad ale,
Had a run of weaker brew,
Since our singers are not singing
And good poets saying nothing,
All our dear guests not cuckooing,
No joyance from our cuckoos calling?

277 "Who will do the singing here,
Who indeed is singing now 260
At this, Pohjola's great banquet,
Joyful drinking bout at Sedgeland?
Here the benches will not sing
If the singers on them do not,
Nor the floors make recital
If the walkers on them will not,
Nor the windows merry make
If their masters will not do so,
Neither will the table edges
If the sitters at them will not, 270
Nor can smokeholes celebrate
If those below them are not singing!"

291 On the floor a child was sitting,
Milk-beard infant on the stove bench;
Said the child from the floor,
Spoke the boy-child from the bench end:
"I'm not very big in years,
Not so stout in body either,
But, however that may be,
If the fat ones will not sing 280
Nor the stout men raise their voices,
Ruddy-faced ones not regale us,
I, the lean lad, will tune up,
Dry stick of a boy will carol.
From this meager flesh I'll sing,
From these juiceless loins make music
For the pleasure of our evening,
In honor of this famous day."

307 Then an old man on the stove top
Put the matter into words: 290
"What is there to children's singing
But the cooing of the bratlings!
Fancy fibs are children's ballads,
And the songs of girls are empty.
Leave the singing to this wise man,
Who is sitting on the bench here."

315 Then old Vainamoinen spoke:
"Is there one among the youngsters,
One among this whole great clan,
Who would put hand into hand, 300
Hooking one into another,
And would break out in a ballad,
Burst out with a joyful song
To celebrate this closing day,
In honor of this famous evening?"

325 Said the old man from the stove top:
"Never before have you heard,
Never have you heard or seen,
Never before in all of time
Better singer, truer artist, 310
Than when I was sweetly cooing,
Lilting, larking in my boyhood
Over the waters of the bay,
Echoing clear across the heathlands,
Calling cuckoo in the fir groves,
Chanting magic in the wildwoods.

337 "Strong and graceful was my voice
And my tone most beautiful.
Then it flowed on like a river,
Sparkling like a water brook; 320
Like a ski on snow it glided,
Like a sailboat on the waves.
Now I hardly dare to tell,
Hardly even understand
What destroyed that mighty voice,
And untuned those precious notes:
Flows no longer like a river
Nor wave-like does it rise and fall,
But is like a brushwood harrow
Dragging over stumpy ground, 330
Or a dry pine over snow crust,
Grating like a sleigh on shore sand,
Like a skiff across dry stones."
353 Then old Vainamoinen said:
"Since there's no one here to join me,
Join me, sing along with me,
Then alone I'll start my ballads
And begin my song recital.
Since I was born to be a singer,
Destined to make magic music, 340
I ask no neighbor for directions
And no text from any stranger."

363 Thereupon old Vainamoinen,
He, the very soul of music,
Set himself to joyance making,
Ready for his lyricking;
Lavished all the joy of legends,
All the magic of his garnering.

369 Then old Vainamoinen sang -
Sang, and oh! how he could sing - 350
Words not lacking for his magic,
Verses never for his chanting;
Sooner rocks in cliffs were missing
Or lilies in a lily pond.

375 There old Vainamoinen chanted,
Making merry all the evening.
Women all with laughing mouths,
All the men in joyful humor
Listened breathless in their wonder
At Vainamoinen's vast production 360
For it was a marvel to them,
Even to all airy beings.

383 Said old Vainamoinen then
As he closed his great recital:
"What in fact am I at all
As a singer, as an artist!
Having in myself no power,
Not truly fit for anything?
Were the great Creator singing,
Chanting with his flowing voice, 370
It would be the song of songs,
Chant of chants and art of arts,

393 "He would sing the seas to honey,"
And the sea sands into peas;
Into malt the ooze of ocean
And its gravel into salt;
All wide woodlands into cornfields,
And the clearings into wheatfields;
All the hills to sugar cakes,
And the boulders into hen's eggs. 380

401 "He would sing with perfect art,
Sing his magic and create:
Chant the cowsheds of this homestead
Pull of heifers, lanes, of cattle,
And the clearings full of milkers,
A full hundred of horn-bearers,
And a thousand udder carriers.

409 "He would sing with perfect art,
Sing his magic and create:
Coats of lynx fur for the masters, 390
Coats of broadcloth for the matrons;
Laceless slippers for the daughters
And red tunics for the sons.

415 "Jumala, thou true Creator,
Grant the same some other time
So that all of us may live
To enjoy the same once more-
Banquet here at Pohjola,
Joyful drinking bout at Sedgeham
Where the ale may run like rivers 400
And the mead like water brooks
In these halls of Pohjola,
In these log-built halls of Sedgeland;
That our days be filled with singing
And our nights with merrymaking
In the lifetime of the master,
In the lifetime of the mistress.

429 "May high Jumala reward you,
The Creator reimburse you -
Master at the long deal table 410
And the mistress in her storerooms,
Sons upon the seining grounds,
Daughters busy at their weaving -
So that no one will regret
Nor complain some other year
Of this mighty banquet here,
Of the great crowd at this drinking."


Use of the text for commercial purpose is forbidden

Table of contents