The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 25


Long indeed the people waited,
Waited, watching eagerly
For the bridal party's coming
To the home of Ilmarinen.
Eyes of elders ran with rheum,
Sitting staring out of windows;
Knees of younger people weakened
As they waited at the gateway,
While the children's feet were freezing
As they stood along the walls; 10
Middle-agers ruined their shoes
Tramping up and down the shore.

13 Then upon a certain morning,
After several days of waiting -
A commotion through the woods,
Rush of runners on the heath.

17 Then the courteous matron, Lokka,
Kaleva's daughter, handsome hostess,
Gave the word that they were coming:
"Its my son's sleigh now approaching, 20
Coasting home from Pohjola
With his young bride by his side.

23 "He is near now to these acres,
Very close now to his homestead,
To the house his father built him,
Which his parent well provided."

27 It is Ilmarinen coming,
Almost at the home already
Which his father furnished for him
And his parent well provided. 30
On the shaft-bows, bent from saplings,
Hazel grouse are gaily whistling;
On the ornamented sleigh prow
Cuckoo bells are clearly calling;
On the shafts of maple wood
Playful squirrels are frolicking.

37 Said the courteous matron, Lokka,
Kaleva's daughter, handsome hostess:
"For a new moon the village waited,
Younger people for the sunrise, 40
Children for a field of strawberries,
Water for a tar-tight vessel.
As for me, I was not waiting
Even for a half moon here
Nor for the rising of the sun;
I was waiting for my son,
For my son and daughter-in-law,
Watching mornings, watching evenings,
Did not know where he had vanished.
Was he rearing a little bride 50
Or fattening up a lean one
Since he has not come already,
Though he promised to return
While his sleigh ruts were still clear,
Long before the trail was cold?

57 "Every morning I was watching,
Wracked my mind throughout the days-
If my son's sleigh were not coming,
My son's sled not yet coasting
Homeward to these puny acres, 60
To this narrow home estate.'
Were the stallion made of straw
And the sled had but two shackles,
Even that I'd call a sleigh,
Raise it to a basket sleigh
If it brought my dear boy to me,
Brought my handsome darling home.

69 "This I hoped for all my life,
Waiting, watching all my days;
Looked until my head was crooked, 70
Till my chignon stood up edgewise
And my straight eyes were asquint-
Hoped my dear son would be coming
Homeward to these-little fields,
To this narrow home estate.
Now at last "he's really coming
And indeed is now arriving
With a rosy form beside him,
Red-cheeked figure by his side!

81 "Bridegroom, my most precious one! 80
Loosen White-Blaze from its harness,
Lead the good horse to its fodder,
To its own familiar manger,
To its usual feed of oats.
Come and greet us, everyone,
Health to us and to all others,
And good health to all the village!

89 "After you have said your greetings,
Tell us everything that happened:
Did you travel without trouble 90
With good health upon your journey,
On your way to mother-in-law's,
Home of your good father-in-law?
Did you get her, win the power,
Did you break the war-gate down;
Did you storm the maiden's castle,
Did you smash the upright wall;
Stride across the matron's floor,
Sit upon the master's bench?

101 "But I see that without asking, 100
Know it without further question:
He has journeyed in good health
And has traveled without trouble;
He has brought his gosling with him
And has won the mastery;
Broken down the barricade,
Overthrown the wooden castle,
Broken down the linden wall
When he went to his mother-in-law's,
To the home of his father-in-law. 110
Now the scaup is in his care,
Little chicken in his arms,
Fair-skinned maiden by his side,
Shining beauty in his power.

115 "Who has brought this lie among us,
Who has spread this evil gossip
That he's coming empty-handed,
That the stallion ran for nothing?
But he comes not empty-handed,
Nor did the stallion run for nothing: 120
See there what he pulls behind him,
What the flax-maned is hauling!
In a sweat the good horse gallops,
Flecked with foam the chosen racer,
Bringing us the little pullet,
Bringing us the rosy bride.

127 "Get up from the sleigh now, lovely,
Get up, good gift from the long sleigh,
Stand up in the sleigh unaided,
Get out without being lifted, iso
Though you have a youth to aid you
And a proud man who could lift you.

133 "When you get up from the sleigh,
Come down from the end of it,
Step down on the dark-brown pathway,
On the liver-colored earth
Smoothed and packed down by the swine,
Trodden by the little piglets,
Leveled by the little lambkins,
Brushed off by a horse's mane. 140

141 "Step out like a little gosling,
Patter like a little teal
On the swept and level farmyard
Of your father-in-law's providing,
Furnished by your mother-in-law,
On the brother's whittling yard
And the sister's flax-blue meadows.

149 "Set your foot upon the threshold
And go up the outer stairway
To the honey-fragrant entry, 150
And from there step straight inside
Underneath the honored rooftree,
Underneath the splendid ceiling.

155 "It was only just last winter,
Even only just last summer
That the duckbone floor was singing
For her who would be standing on it.
And the splendid ceiling murmured
For her who was to walk beneath it,
And the windows were rejoicing 160
For her who was to sit beside them.

163 "It was only just this winter,
Even only just last summer
That the latches too were rattling
For ringed fingers that would close them,
And the doorsills all were creaking
For her handsome hem to brush them;
All the doors were opening,
Impatient for their opener.

171 "It was only just this winter, 170
Even only just last summer
That the cabin spun around
Waiting for its proper wiper,
The entry, too, prepared itself
To receive its proper cleaner;
All the sheds were shouting out
Also for their proper sweeper.

179 "It was only just this winter,
Even only just last summer
That the yard was looking round 180
For the picker up of torch ends,2
And the storerooms leaning over
Listening for their mistress' footstep;
Rafters swayed and shelves bent down
Waiting for the young wife's wardrobe.

187 "It was only just this winter,
Even only just last summer
That the laneways were lamenting,
Waiting for the one to walk them;
Cattle sheds were coming nearer 190
Waiting for the one to clean them;
Cattle stalls were rearing back
Waiting for the teal to tend them.

195 "It was only just today,
Even only yesterday
That the cow was mooing early
For the giver of the hay sheaf,
While the young colts all were neighing
For the tosser of the hay sheaf,
And the spring lamb bleating, waiting 200
For the server of his tidbit.

203 "It was only just today,
Even only yesterday
That at the windows sat the old folks,
Children ran around the shores,
Women stood along the walls,
Boys beside the entry doors,
All expecting the young wife,
Waiting for the coming bride.

211 "Health now to your crowded yard 2l(H
And to all the men outside!
Hail your crowded outer stairs
And your guest-filled upper landing!
Health be to your crowded entry,
Birchbark roof with your people.
Health be to your crowded cabin,
Hundred-planker, with your children.
Hail the moon, hail the king,
Hail this youthful bridal escort!
There has not been here before, 220
Not before nor yesterday
Anything like it for its splendor
Or the beauty of these people.

225 "Come, good bridegroom, best of brothers
Now take off her scarlet headbands,
Swish away her silken veils.
Show us now your little marten
Whom you wooed for five long years
And for eight years you adored.

231 "Did you get the one you wanted? 230
Went to get your little cuckoo,
Got the choicest in the land
And the fairest on the water.

235 "But I see that without asking,
Know it without further question:
Brought your little cuckoo with you,
Have the blue scaup in your keeping,
Tenderest tip of youngest sapling
From the greenest of the greenwood,
Freshest of the leafy twigs 240
From the freshest chokecherry bush."

243 Said a baby from the floor,
From the floor an infant mocking:
"Brother, what is that you're bringing -
Handsome as a pitchy pine stump,
No longer than a tub of tar
And no taller than a windle.

249 "Well, well, you unlucky bridegroom!
This you hoped for all your lifetime,
Said you'd get one worth a hundred, 250
Bring a maiden worth a thousand.
Now you've got one worth a hundred-
But that hoyden worth a thousand?
Got a curlew from the swamp,
Off the fence a magpie chaser;
Got a scarecrow from the field
And a black bird from a furrow.

259 "What now has she ever done,
What for instance all last summer,
Since she's knitted not a mitten 260
Nor begun a single stocking?
Came into the house with nothing,
Giftless to her father-in-law's-
Only mice with pricked-up ears
Listening in her birchbark basket."

267 Then the courteous mistress, Lokka,
Kaleva's daughter, handsome housewife,
Hearing the strange story said:
"What were you saying, naughty child,
Babbling about, you silly baby? 270
Let wild tales be told of others,
Let their scandals mn like rumors,
But not about this girl of ours
Nor the people of this household.

277 "Now you told a bad, bad story
And have sung a silly song
From a calf's mouth, one night old,
From a day-old puppy's head.
For the girl my son has got
Is the choicest of the country, 280
Like a ripening whortleberry,
Like a strawberry on a hill
Or a cuckoo on a tree top,
Little bird upon a rowan,
Pretty plume upon a birch tree,
Warbling white-breast on a maple.

289 "Search the land of Germany,
Even far beyond Estonia,
But you'll never find her equal,
Not her match for gracefulness; 290
Not the kindness of this duckling,
Not the beauty of this blossom;
No such stateliness of figure,
No such whiteness of the arms,
Such an arch of slender neck.

297 "She did not come empty handed:
There were fur coats to be brought,
Blankets also to be got
And good broadcloth brought along.

301 Much this maiden now brings with her, 300
Many doings of her distaff,
Many spinnings of her spindle,
Finery fashioned by her fingers,
Garments white from winter washing,
On a spring day bleached out white,
Dried out in the months of summer:
Good homespun linen sheets,
With some softly puffed-up pillows,
Silken kerchiefs, woolen blankets.

313 "My good girl, fair young woman, 310
Woman with a rose complexion,
Well-regarded as a daughter,
Daughter in your father's house,
You will be as well regarded
In the home of your dear husband.

319 "Don't begin to worry now
Nor concern yourself with cares:
You weren't brought into a swamp,
Taken to a dirty ditch bank;
You've been brought from good to better, 320
From stores of grain to greater ones,
From a house well-stocked with ale
To a house supplied with more.

327 "My good girl, fair young woman,
Let me simply ask you this:
Did you see as you were coming
Rounded ricks and high-heaped hurdles?
All are entirely of this manor,
All of them your husband's work,
From the plowing of your bridegroom, 330
From his plowing and his sowing.

335 "My good girl, fair young woman,
This is what I want to tell you:
Since you chose to join this household,
Make your mind up to stay in it!
For a young bride life is good here
For a daughter-in-law to thrive in:
Tubs of clabber in your care,
Bowls of butter in your charge.

343 "Here's a good place for a girl, 340
For a little chick to thrive in:
Broad the platforms of the sauna,
Wide the benches in the cabin,
And the master's like your father
And the mistress like your mother;
All the boys will be your brothers
And the daughters as your sisters.

351 "Should you ever get a longing,
Have a hunger for old home fare,
Such as fish your father caught 350
Or the grouse your brother snared,
Do not ask your brother-in-law
Nor entreat your father-in-law.
Ask your sweetheart straight and simply,
Do your business with your bringer.
There is no beast in the forest,
Not a single four-foot runner
Nor a single bird of air
Soaring on a pair of wings,
Nor yet even in the waters, 360
In the best of shoaling fishes
That your getter5 cannot get you,
Getter get or bringer bring.

367 "Here's a good place for a girl,
For a little chick to thrive in:
There's no hurrying to the handmill
Nor concern about the mortar;
Here the river grinds the wheat
And the rapids mill the rye;
Wave-washed are the wooden dishes 370
And the sea foam does the whitening.

375 "Oh, this dear, this precious village,
Best in all the land for me:
Meadows lower, plowland higher
And the village in between;
Down below, the pleasant shore,
Near the shore, on calm water,
Mallards swimming, sea birds sporting."

383 Then the drinks were passed around,
All the guests •were fed and toasted 380
With heaps of extra buns and sweetmeats,
Pudding bread and barley beer,
And fermented wheat-wort liquor.

389 There was roasted meat in plenty,
Heaps of food and drink abundant
In red trenchers, lovely platters;
Crusty pasties, buttered bread,6
Whitefish cutlets, salmon slices,
Cut and sliced with silver knives,
And with golden sheath-knives gleaming. 390

399 Gratis everything was given,
Cost was never even counted;
Freely flowed the beer and mead-
Ran out from the ends of rafters,
Wall pegs spouted out like spigots-
Beer for mouthwash, mead for cheering.

405 Who is there to be our cuckoo,
Singer suited to the station?
Vainamoinen, ageless singer,
Undertook the runo-making, 400
Introduced the runo singing;
Said this word, spoke this sentence:
"My good friends and brothers all,
Mutual speakers mouth to mouth,
Conversing comrades face to face,
Hear and heed the words I'm saying!
Far apart our homes are scattered:
Geese are seldom beak to beak,
Sisters seldom face to face,
Brothers seldom side by side, 410
Mother's children rarely neighbors
In these ragged border regions,
These benighted northern marches.

423 "So now, shall we start our singing
And commence composing verses?
Making songs is work for singers
As is calling for the cuckoos,
Dyeing blue for blue-woad spirits,7
Weaving to the weaver spirits.

429 "Even Lapland children sing, 420
In their hay-stuffed shoes are chanting,
On infrequent elk flesh feasting,
On the rare ribs of the reindeer.
Why should I not sing as well,
Why should not our children sing,
Robust on a diet of rye bread,
From a mouth well-breakfasted?

437 "Yes, indeed, the Lapps are singing,
Even all those hay-shoes chanting,
Drinking from their mugs of water, 430
Biting on their bread of pine bark.
Why should I not sing as well,
Why should not our children sing,
Drinking grain-fermented liquor,
Rejoicing with their barley beer?

445 "Yes, indeed, the Lapps are singing,
Even all those hay-shoes chanting
Round their sooty open campfires,
In their cindery night camps chanting.
Why should I not sing as well, 440
Why should not our children chant,
Safe beneath this solid rooftree
Underneath a splendid ceiling.

453 "Here's a good place for the menfolk,
Pleasant too for womenfolk,
With butts of beer and tuns of mead,
Whitefish in the sound beside us,
Salmon ready for our seining,
Whence our food is never lacking
And our drink is never ending. 450

461 "Here's a good place for the menfolk,
Pleasant too for womenfolk,
Here we do not eat in sorrow,
Not oppressed with, anxious cares;
Here we eat with minds unworried
And with spirits free of sorrow
While the master here is living
And the hostess still is with us.

469 "In what order shall I thank them,
First the master or the mistress? 460
Always in the olden times
Singers thanked the master first;
He it was who pioneered,
Turned a swamp into a homestead,
Built a good home in the forest.
First he cut down tall old pine trees
Which he trimmed from butt to tip;
Set them on a fitting site,
Fixed them firmly, built them stoutly
As a great house for the clan 470
And a splendid family homestead;
Shaped the wall logs from the backwoods,
Stringers cut from fearful cliff;
Rafters from the stony scrabble,
Roofpoles from a berry pasture;
Birchbark down from Cherry Hill,
Moss for caulking from the marshes.

487 "So the house was well-constructed,
Firmly fixed on good foundations;
Hundred helpers at its raising 480
And a thousand at its roofing,
At the making of the big house
And the laying of its floor.

493 "When this present master here
Was constructing this great manor,
Many a storm wind whipped his hair,
Much hard weather he endured;
Often were the good man's mittens
Frozen solid to a stone,
Hat left hanging on a fir bough, 490
Stockings sucked down in a bog hole.

501 "Many a time this good master,
Very early at the dawning,
Long before the others wakened,
With no single neighbor hearing,
Has awakened at his campfire,
Risen from his bed of fir boughs;
Many a fir sprig brushed his hair,
While his eyes were washed with dew.

509 "That is why, then, our good master 500
Now receives his comrades here,
Benches full of friendly singers,
Windows crowded with rejoicers,
Floors with wizards, wily warlocks,
Chimney corners with great chanters,
Many standers by the wall sides,
Fenceways full of travelers,
And the yards with lookers-on.

519 "Now that I have thanked the master,
I will thank our generous hostess 510
For the feast she has provided,
Sumptuous table set before us.

523 "She has baked the great fat loaves,
Made big buns of barley mush,
Molded with her ready palms,
In the curve of her ten fingers;
Served the meal most courteously,
Fed the guests most copiously
High-heaped portions of roast pork
And fish pasties crumble-crusted 520
Till our busy knife blades loosened
From the handles of our sheath-knives
As we hacked the salmon heads,
As we split the pike heads neatly.

535 "Often has our courteous hostess,
Careful housewife risen early,
Long before she heard the cock crow,
Heard a sound from chanticleer,
Hurrying to prepare this banquet,
Bustling at her various chores, 530
Busy with handling of the hops
And the brewing of the beer.

543 "Well indeed now has our hostess,
Careful housewife brewed the beer,
Brewed the malted beverage nicely
From the sweetened barley sprouts.
Did not stir them with a stick,
Did not turn them with a cowlstaff;
Only with her hands she raised them,
With her arms she turned them over 540
In the sauna clear of smoke,
On the platform cleanly swept.

555 "That good mistress, careful housewife
Never allowed the sprouts to spoil,
Never let them clot together
Nor dropped them down upon the ground,
And she checked the sauna often
All alone at dead of night
With no fear about the wolves
Or the wild beasts of the forest. 550

563 "Having thanked our courteous hostess,
Let me thank the speaker now!
Who was chosen as our speaker
And is honored as our leader?8
Good Luck, best of village speakers,
Has been chosen as our leader.

569 "Look how dressed up is our leader
In a coat of foreign broadcloth;
It is tight around the armpits,
Very narrow around the belly. 560

573 "Look how our distinguished leader
Wears a very stylish kaftan,
Though the hem sweeps up the sand
As the tails drag on the ground.

577 "Just a bit of shirt is showing,
Tiny piece is peeping out
As if woven by the Moonmaid,
Or a tinny-breasted maiden.

581 "Look how our distinguished speaker
Wears a stylish belt of woolen- 570

As if woven by the Sunmaid,
Embroidered by some pretty fingers
At some far-off fireless age,
Time when fire was quite unknown.

587 "Look how our distinguished leader
Wears a pair of silken stockings
With a pair of silken garters,
Satin lacings on his shanks
Woven out of golden yam,
Interlaced with silver threading. 580

595. "Look at our distinguished leader
Wearing decent Dutchman's shoes
Like two swans upon the river
Or two pigeons on the bank,
Brace of geese upon a fir bough,
Birds of passage on a brush heap.

599 "Look at our distinguished leader
Showing off his golden ringlets
With his long beard neatly braided,9
On his head a high-peaked hat 590
Poking right up through the clouds,
Glimmering there above the forest,
A hat not to be bought for hundreds,
No, not for a thousand marks.

607 "Our distinguished leader thanked,
Let me thank the maid of honor.
Where now did we get this woman,
Choose this lucky maid of honor?

6ll "This is where we got the lucky,
Where we took our maid of honor: 600
Far beyond the fort of Tallinn
Outside the fort of Novgorod.

615 "No, she did not come from there,
Not at all by any means!
This is where we got the lucky,
Where we took our maid of honor:
From the Dvtna's high headwaters,
From the open White Sea waters.

621 "Neither did she come from there,
Surely not from there, our chosen! 610
In a meadow grew a strawberry,
Dark red cowberry on a heath,
In a field a handsome hay bloom,
Golden flower in a clearing.
That is where the lucky comes from,
Where we took the maid of honor.

629 "The maid of honor's lovely mouth
Curves like a Finnish weaver's shuttle;10
The maid of honor's lively eyes
Twinkle like the stars of heaven; 620
The maid of honor's far-famed brows
Shine like moonlight on the ocean.

635 "Round our maid of honor's neck
Golden necklaces are gleaming;
Golden spangles in her hair,
Golden bracelets on her arms;
Rings of gold upon her fingers,
Golden eardrops in her ears;
Golden fillet on her forehead,
Mussel pearls" upon her eyebrows. 630

643 "I thought the golden moon was gleaming
From the glimmer of her breast pin;
Thought it was the glow of daybreak
When I saw her golden collar;
Thought it was a bright sail coming
When I saw her headdress gleaming.

649 "Having thanked the maid of honor,
Let me look the whole crowd over
To see if all the throng is thriving,
Older people still in health, 640
Younger people lithe and lively,
Overall a merry party.

655 "I have looked the whole crowd over
Though I knew it well already:
There has never been before
Nor may ever be again
As merry a company as this,
Such a handsome crowd of people,
No sturdier group of older people
Nor a handsomer lot of young ones. 650

663 "All are dressed in light gray coating
Like a forest hung with hoarfrost;
Below is like the dusk of dawn,
Above is like the morning glow.12

667 "Gold was loose and free was silver
With these parting wedding guests:
Purses scattered all around,
Wallets even in the lanes,
Given for the great occasion,
For the honor of the party." 660

673 Old reliable Vainamoinen,
Eternal prop of minstrelsy,
Took his leave now of the party,
Driving homeward in his sleigh,
Chanting spells and incantations,
Singing, singing on his way;
Sang a song and sang a second,
But upon the third it happened-
Runner cracked upon a rock,
Shackle struck upon a stump, 670
So the poefs sleigh was broken
And the singer's mnner cracked
As the shackle broke away
And the sides collapsed completely.

687 Said the staunch old Vainamoinen:
"Is there anyone here among you,
One among the younger people
In the growing generation,
One among the older people
Of the dwindling generation 680
Who would dare to go to Tuoni,
To the caverns of the dead
For a gimlet from grim Tuoni,
Auger from the under-earth
So that I can make a new one
Or repair the sleigh that's broken?"

699 Said the young ones all together
And the elders also joined them:
"There are none among the young ones
Nor among the elders either, 690
No one in this whole great clan,
Not one with the awesome daring
To descend to Tuonela,
To the caverns of the dead
For a gimlet from grim Tuoni,
Auger from the under-earth
So that you can make a new one
Or repair the sleigh that's broken."

711 Then the staunch old Vainamoinen,
Singer eternal, went to Tuoni, 700
A second time to Tuonela,
To the caverns of the dead,
Got the gimlet from grim Tuoni,
Auger from the under-earth.

717 Then old Vainamoinen chanted:
Sang a woodland hazy blue,
Sang an oak and rowan there,
Straight-grained oak and holy rowan.
Built a new sleigh out of these,
Bent them into better runners, 7io
Shaped them into shackle stakes,
Shaped and bent them into shaft-bows.
Soon he had his new sleigh finished,
All the parts as sound as ever.
Then he harnessed up the colt,
Hitched the brown horse to the sleigh,
Took his seat and settled down.
Unstruck by lash or beaded whip,
Ran the racer for his breakfast,
His accustomed grits and mash, 720
Bringing Vainamoinen home
To his door, his own threshold.


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