The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 2


Up stood Vainamoinen then
Both feet planted firmly there
On an island in the sea
In an empty treeless land.

5 There he stayed for many years
Living on while time was passing
On that mute and barren island,
In that dreary treeless land.

9 Head on hand he pondered thus:
"Who is there to plant this land, 10
Sow the seeds and sow them thickly?

13 "Pellervoinen, gnome of plowland,
Little Sampsa Pellervoinen,
He's the boy to do the planting,
Sow the seeds and sow them thickly."

17 Leisurely he sowed the land,
Sowed the land and sowed the swamps,
Sowed the fallow open stretches,
Even sowed the rocky barrens.

21 On the hills he planted pine groves, 20
Clumps of fir upon the hillocks;
All the heaths he sowed with heather
And the dells with undergrowth.

25 Planted birches in the hollows,
In the loose loam planted alders;
In the damps the chokecherry seeded,
Planted sallows in the marshes;
Rowans in the holy places,
Willows in the soggy soils;
Junipers upon the barrens, 30
Oaks along the river banks.

33 Then the trees began to grow,
All the slender saplings stretching;
Pine trees spread their bushy tops
And the spruces flower-crowned.
Birches lifted from the hollows,
From the light loam alders rose;
In the bogs the chokecherry bloomed
Beaded with abundant fruit;
On the barrens junipers, 40
Beautiful with berry clusters.

43 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Went to look at Sampsa's sowing,
Little Pellervoinen's plantings.
Saw the trees all flourishing,
All the green young saplings risen,
Only one, the oak, unsprouted:
Rootless was the tree of God.

51 So he left the sorry thing,
Left it to its own devices. 50
Waited yet for three more days,
For as many nights he waited;
At the week's end went to look.
Still the oak seed had not sprouted,
God's own tree was still unrooted.

59 All at once he sees four mermaids,
Even five brides of the water;
They were mowing in a meadow,
Cutting down a crop of salt grass
On that misty point of land 60
At the head of Foggy Island.
What they mowed, they raked together,
Raked it all up into windrows.

67 Tursas came up from the sea,
From the waves the man arose.
Threw the mowings on the fire,
On the blazing open fire,
Where it all burned down to ashes
As the last sparks smouldered out.

73 There was nothing left but ashes, 70
Just a dry, dead ashen heap.
Then the lover's leaf was added,
Lempi's leaf with seminal acorn
Whence arose a sturdy seedling,
Like a strawberry double stemmed,
Growing lusty and luxuriant.

81 Then it stretched its branches out,
Spread its leafy boughs abroad
As the air, leaf-laden, stifled,
While the drifting clouds were stopped so
And the hurrying cloudlets halted
And the sun could shine no more
Nor the golden moonlight glimmer.

89 Thereupon old Vainamoinen
Thought it over, pondered on it:
"Who is there to fell this oak tree,
To become the Big-Oak breaker?
People cannot live this way
Nor even fishes swim the waters
Where the sunlight does not shine 90
Nor the golden moonlight glimmer.

97 "There is not a single person,
Not a fellow bold enough
Who can fell the awful oak,
Overcome the hundred-headed."

101 Here he called upon his mother:
"0 my mother beautiful,
You who gave me light and life,
Creation's daughter, my sustainer,
Send some spirit of the sea folk - 100
And there are many in the waters -
To cut down this awful oak
And destroy this evil growth
That prevents the sun from shining
And the tender moon from gleaming."

111 Out of the sea a man arose,
Rose up from among the waves.
He was not the tallest of the tall
Nor the smallest of the small;
Was no taller than a man's thumb, 110
About a woman's handspan high.

117 Copper-hatted, copper-booted,
Copper gloves with copper broidery,
Copper belt about his waist
And a copper ax6 he carried,
Wore it hanging from his belt
And it had a thumb-length handle,
Blade the size of a finger nail.

125 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Looks him over, wonders at him: 120
"In appearance he's an odd one,
Funny fellow just to look at.
No taller than an upright thumb,
No higher than an ox's hoof."

131 Said old Vainamoinen to him:
"What sort of man are you, who
Among the heroes would be rated
Little better than a dead man,
Nor more handsome than a carcass?"

137 Said the small man from the sea, 130
Replied the dwarfling of the seawaves:
"As a man I know I'm an odd one,
One of the tiny water people,
But I came to fell the oak tree
To become the Big-Oak breaker."

143 But old Vainamoinen answered:
"Maybe you were never made,
Neither made nor intended
To become the Big-Oak breaker,
Destroyer of the dreadful tree." 140

149 Scarcely had he spoken when,
Looking at the dwarf once more,
He beheld a man transformed,
Transfigured to a giant stature!
As his foot reached for the shore
His head collided with the clouds,
His beard before him to his knees,
Hair behind him to his heels;
A fathom wide between his eyes,
Pants a fathom at the cuff, 150
One and a half around the knees
And two fathoms round the waist.

161 He is sharpening up his ax,
And is honing keen his ax bit
On six whetstones and a seventh.

165 He swings forward stepping lightly,
Strides out freely in wide britches,
Easy in his pants broad-bottomed.
With the first stride he swung proudly
Straight upon the fine-sand shore; 160
With the next one he leaped lightly
To the liver colored turf;
With the third stride he was standing
Close beside the awful oak.

175 With his ax he struck the tree,
Struck a hard blow with his ax bit.
Dealt it one blow, dealt it two blows;
Then already at the third stroke
Sparks were flying from the ax bit,
Fiery fumes the oak exhaling. 170
Then the oak began to tilt,
Ready to come crashing down.

183 Thus already with the third blow
He had felled the awful oak,
Hewed the hulky giant down,
Felled the hundred-headed monster.
There it landed butt-end eastward
With the tip-end pointing northwest,
Leafy limbs directed southward
With the branch butts pointing northward, 180

191 Whoever took a branch of it
Would possess good luck forever.
Whoever broke a crown tip off
Had the magic touch forever;
Whoever clipped a leafy spray
Won an ever-faithful love.
Many scattered chips and splinters
Landed on the wide sea surface
Where they floated wind-rocked, wave-tossed
Like small craft upon the waters, 190
Vessels on the heaving billows.

205 Windward to the north they drifted.
The small maid of Pohjola,
Busy washing out her clothes,
Rinsing out her many kerchiefs
On a witch's waterstone
At the point of a long headland,

211 Spied a chip upon a wavelet,
Seized it, hid it in her wallet,
Took it home inside the wallet, 200
In her long-tongued birchen bag
For a witch to make her arrows,
Or a marksman make his weapons.

217 When the awful oak was felled
And the dreadful tree dismembered,
Sun was free to shine again,
Moon to glimmer, clouds to scutter
With the rainbow arching over
On that misty point of land
At the head of Foggy Island. 210

225 All the wilderness was quickened,
Everywhere the woods were greening,
Trees were leafing, grass was growing,
Birds were singing, thrushes warbling -
Over all a cuckoo calling.

231 Berry bushes grew abundant,
Golden flowers filled the meadows
And the grasses multiplied,
Every kind of herb arising,
But the barley had not sprouted, 220
Growthless all its precious seeding.

237 Vainamoinen pondered, pacing,
Pensive by the blue sea water,
On the shore beside the breakers.
There upon the sandy shore
In the fine sea sand he found them:
Six tiny seeds, seven kernels.
Hid them in a marten skin,
Leg skin of a summer squirrel.

247 Then he went to sow the land, 230
Scattering the seeds abroad
By the well of Kaleva,
On the slope of Osmo's field.

251 From a tree a titmouse twittered:
"Osmo's barley will not sprout
Nor the oats of Kaleva grow
Without clearing off the land,
Without cutting out a clearing,
Burning it all off with fire."

257 Old reliable Vainamoinen 240
Had a sharp ax made for him.
Then he cut a wide swath quickly,
Cut out an enormous clearing.
All those handsome trees he felled
Leaving only one lone birch tree
Standing for the birds to rest on -
For the cuckoo's calling-tree.

265 Flying through the heights of heaven
Came an eagle soaring over,
Stooped to look at it and wonder: 250
"Why was that one there left standing,
Slender little birch unfelled,
Graceful one, all quite unharmed?"

271 Wise old Vainamoinen answered:
"This is why that's been left there:
For the birds to rest upon -
For the eagle's airy perch."

275 Said the eagle, bird of air:
"Excellently you have managed
To have left this birch tree growing, 260
Left this graceful tree upstanding
For the birds to perch upon,
Even for myself to rest on."

281 So the bird of air struck fire
And the fire flashed to flaming.
Then the north wind burned the timber,
Northeasters burned it down to ashes.
Burned down all the trees to ashes
Smouldered down to finest ashes.

287 Then the staunch old Vainamoinen 270
Took the six found kernels out,
Shook the seven grain seeds out,
Shook them from the marten skin,
From the summer squirrel's leg,
From the summer weasel's paw.

293 The he went to sow the land,
Scattering the seeds abroad
As he sang the sower's song:"
"I am sowing, stooping over,
Through the great creator's fingers 280
By the hand of the Almighty,
Seeding down the fertile acres,
These good acres of my clearings.

301 " Woman of the under-earth,
Earth-wife, mistress of the soil!
Make the turf push upward now
And the strong earth strain with growing!
Earth shall never lack for vigor,
Never while the world endures
As long as nature showers her blessings 290
And her daughters give their favors.

309 "Rouse, O Earth, from your sleeping,
God's own meadow, wake from dreaming!
Make the stalks grow tall and taller,
And the stems grow high and higher!
Let a thousand seedlings rise,
Each one with a hundred branches
From my ploughing and my planting
And the trouble I have taken.

317 "Ukko, Jumala on high, 300
Beloved father of the heavens,
Holding sway among the clouds,
Ruler of the wandering cloudlets!
Hold thy court among the clouds,
And thy heavenly counsel give!
Sprout a cloud up from the eastward,
From the northwest raise another,
Send one also from the westward,
Hasten others from the south!
Send a misty rain from heaven, 310
Sprinkle honey from the clouds
Over all the sprouting seedlings
Down upon the rustling crops."

331 Then that Ukko, God on high,
Paternal ruler of the skies,
Held his court among the clouds,
Gave clear council in assembly:
Sprouted up a cloud from eastward,
From the northwest raised another,
Sent one also from the westward, 320
Hastened others from the south.
Then he pushed the clouds together
Edge to edge in one great mass,
Sent a misty rain from heaven,
Sprinkled honey from the clouds
Over all the sprouting seedlings
Down upon the rustling crops.
Then indeed a seedling rose,
And the stump-moss grew out greenly
From the soft soil of the ploughland 330
Out of Vainamoinen's labor.

349 Soon upon another day,
Two or three nights after that,
No later than a week thereafter,
Old reliable Vainamoinen
Went to take a look at that,
At his ploughing and his planting,
What his labor had produced:
Barley growing as he wished
With the young ears all six-sided 340
And the stalks all triple-jointed.

359 Here old Vainamoinen marveled,
Gazing, turning here and there.
Just then came the springtime cuckoo,
Saw the single birch tree growing:
"Why has that been left there growing,
Slender little birch unfelled?"

365 Wise old Vainamoinen answered:
"This is why that's been left there,
Slender little birch tree growing: 350
As a calling-tree for you.
Cuckoo there, little cuckoo,
Call away, sandy-breasted;
Call out cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo!
Let it ring, 0 silver-breasted,
Call out evenings, call out mornings,
Even in the mid-day calling,
To rejoice the skies above me,
For the cheering of my woodlands,
For the richness of my shores 360
And the good life all about me!"


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