The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 41


Old reliable Vainamoinen,
Singer immortal, rubs his thumbs
And limbers up his fingers;
Seats himself upon the joystone,
Takes his place upon the songrock,1
High up on a silver hill,
There upon a golden knob.

9 Then he took his new-made harp
And he laid it on his knees,
Underneath his hands and said: 10
"Come and hear now, all of you
Who have never heard before
Joy of poetry supernal
Echoing from the joyance giver!"

17 Then old Vainamoinen played,
Leading off with delicate chords
On the pikebone instrument,
On the new-made harp of fishbone.
Nimbly rose and fell his fingers
As his thumb moved lightly, lightly. 20

23 Now the music rose to joyance
And the joy to high rejoicing;
All the music felt so real,
On from song to song high hymning,
With the twanging of the pike tooth
And the sounding of the fish tail,
All the horsehair strings resounding,
Stallion hairs re-echoing.

31 Vainamoinen went on playing.
There was not a single creature 30
Of the forest, of the woodland,
Not a single four-foot runner,
Not a single hind-leg leaper
That did not run out to listen
And to wonder at the joyance.

37 Squirrels hurried out to hear it,
Leaping on from branch to branch,
And the weasels came there also,
Settling down upon the fences;
On the heather elk were bounding, 40
Lynxes leaping up for joy.

43 Even the fen-laired wolf awoke
And the heath bear from his den
In the pine and firwood thicket.
From afar the wolf came running,
And the bear traversed the heathland
Till he landed on a fence,
Threw himself upon the gate.
The fence fell over on the rocks
And the gate into the clearing. 50
Then he scampered up a fir tree,
Spun around into a pine,
There to listen to the playing
And to wonder at the joyance.

57 Then the watchful Tapio,
He, the master of the woodland
And of all the woodland people,
With his sons and with his daughters
Traveled to the mountain peak
To enjoy the music fully. 60
Even Tapiola's mistress,
Watchful matron of the woodland,
In blue stockings and red laces
Halted on a birch-knee, moving
To the elbow of an alder,
There to harken to the harp,
To absorb the joyous music.

71 Every creature of the air,
Every flier on two wings
Scurries like the driven snowflakes, 70
Swirling, racing to arrive
To listen to the honored player
And to wonder at the joyance. ,

77 When at home the eagle heard it,
This enthralling Finnish music,
He left his fledglings^in the nest
And himself flew off to listen
To the wondrous man's performance,
Vainamoinen's rare recital.

83 Up on high the eagle soared, so
Through the clouds the hawk came flying,
Sea ducks from the deep-sea billows,
Stately swans from watery marshes.
Little finches, chirping songbirds,
Buntings flitting by the hundreds
And great flocks of larks by thousands
Hovered adoringly around him,
Chirped and chattered round his shoulders,
While the patriarch rejoiced them,
Vainamoinen, with his playing. 90

95 Even Nature's airy daughters,
Beautiful virgins of the sky,
Listened to the thrilling music,
Rejoicing with the gladness of it;
Some upon the rainbow's rim,
Shimmering on the shaft of heaven,
Some upon a little cloudlet,
Resplendent on the roseate border.

103 Then the Moonmaid, dainty virgin,
And the Sunmaid, skillful damsel, 100
Busily plied their weaver's reeds,
Nimbly lifting up their heddles;
Both were weaving cloth of gold,
Interlacing threads of silver,
Seated on a red cloud border
By the overarching rainbow.

111 When they heard the charming music
Of that graceful instrument,
From their hands the shuttles slipped
And the battens from their fingers, 110
Breaking off the threads of gold
As the silver heddles echoed.

117 There was not a living creature,
Not one even of the water,
Not one single six-fin swimmer
From the finest school of fishes
That did not swim up to listen
And to marvel at the joyance.

123 Pike came swimming sturdily,
Water-dogs with powerful strokes; 120
Salmon swam up from the skerries,
Whitefish from the deeper waters;
Little carp and even perches,
Whitefish and all other fishes,
Breasting through the reeds and sedges,
Crowded up along the shore
Eagerly to hear old Vaino,
Tmly to imbibg the music.

133 Ahto, king of wave and water,
Sedgy-bearded patriarch, 130
Heaves himself up to the surface,
Rests upon a water lily
Where he listens to the joyance,
And he marvels: "Never before
Have I heard the like of this,
This enchantment of old Vaino,
Music of the poet immortal!"

143 There the daughters of the scaup,
Sedgy sisters in the shore reeds
Were attending to their hair, 140
Busy doing up their tresses,
Brushing with a brush of silver,
Combing with a comb of gold.
Suddenly they heard odd echoes
Of that most entrancing music:
With their headdresses unattended,
Hairdo only halfway done,
Into the water splashed the comb
And the brush beneath the seawaves.2

155 Even the mistress of the water, 150
She, the sedgy-breasted matron,
Rises from the deep-sea bottom
And emerges from the wave.
Swimming quickly to a reedbed,
Takes her place upon a reef,
There to harken to the gladness
Of old Vainamoinen's playing,
To the sound of something wondrous
Sounding with supernal beauty.
There she fell into deep slumber, 160
Lying prone upon her stomach
On a many-colored writrock,
Prone upon a solid slabstone.

169 Vainamoinen went on playing,
Played one day and played a second.
There was not a single person,
Not the hardiest of men,
Neither any man nor woman
Nor a loose-haired maiden either
Who did not break out in tears 170
Or whose heart remained unmelted.
Wept the young and wept the old,
All unmarried men were weeping,
Married men and half-grown boys,
All the youths and all the maidens
And the little girls as well,
For the sound was wondrous moving,
So melting was the old man's playing.

185 Even Vainamoinen wept.
From his eyes the tears were falling, 180
Softly tear on tear down-trickling
Big as cranberries, plump as peas,
Even bigger, even plumper;
Rounder than the eggs of partridge,
Larger than the heads of swallows.

193 From his eyes the tears were falling,
Softly falling one by one.
On his cheekbones they were falling,
Falling on his handsome face,
From his handsome face down-trickling, 190
To his broad old jawbone trickling,
From his broad old jawbone dropping,
Dropping on his manly breast,
From his manly breast down-trickling,
Trickling on his sturdy knees,
From his sturdy knees were dropping,
Dropping down upon his feet,
From his feet the tears were flowing
To the earth beneath his feet, "
Soaking through five woolen cloaks, 200
Seeping through six golden sashes
And through seven fine blue mantles,
Even eight long homespun kaftans.

211 Vainamoinen's tears were rolling,
Rolling to the blue-sea shore,
From the blue-sea shore were flowing
Down beneath the lucid waters,
To the black ooze on the bottom.

217 Then old Vainamoinen asked:
"Is there one among this youth, 210
Handsome younger generation,
Anyone in this numerous clan,
In this patriarchal tribe
Who can now retrieve my teardrops
From beneath the lucid waters?"

225 Both the young and old replied:
"There is none among this youth,
Handsome younger generation,
No one in this numerous clan,
In this patriarchal tribe 220
Who can now retrieve your teardrops
From beneath the lucid waters."

233 Then old Vainamoinen offered:
"He who brings me back those tears,
Who retrieves those fallen teardrops
From beneath the lucid waters
Will get from me a new fur coat
Lined throughout with lovely birdskins."

239 Then he called upon the raven,
Who was just then flapping by: 230
"Go and get my tears, raven,
From beneath the lucid waters.
I will give you a new fur coat
Lined throughout with lovely birdskins."
But the raven did not get them.

245 But the scaup, the blue duck, heard it,
Heard the offer and came forward.
Said old Vainamoinen: "Blue scaup,
Often you go diving in,
Speeding straight down through the water. 240
Go and gather up my teardrops
From beneath the lucid waters -
You will get the best of payment,
Furcoat with a birdskin lining."

255 Then the blue duck went to gather,
Gather Vainamoinen's teardrops
From beneath the lucid waters;
From beneath the sea she gathered them,
Brought them to the hand of Vaino,
But already they had changed, 250
Transformed into things of beauty,
Swollen, rounded into pearls,
Into blue fresh-water pearls
That would honor any king
And delight the great forever.


Use of the text for commercial purpose is forbidden

Table of contents