The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 42


Vainamoinen, as the leader,
And smith Ilmarinen, second,
Third, the wayward son of Lempi,
He the handsome man far-minded,
Sailed across the clear sea surface,
Out upon the open ocean
To that chilly Northland village,
To the dark of Pohjola,
To that man-devouring region
Where so many humans founder. 10

11 Who is going to do the rowing?
First is craftsman Ilmarinen,
He will be the foremost rower,
Oarsman at the forward oars;
Second is wayward Lemminkainen
Stationed at the rearward oars.

17 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Is the steersman at the stern.
Easily he guides the vessel,
Steering straight across the billows, 20
Heaving seas and white-capped waves
Toward the piers of Pohjola
Till they reach the well-known moorings.

25 And as soon as they arrived there,
At the end of their long journey,
They hauled the boat up on the shore,
Heaved the tarry-prowed one up,
Up onto the steely rollers,
On the copper-banded jetty.

31 They approached the house from there, 30
Quickly entered without warning.
There the mistress of Pohjola
Asked the unexpected strangers:
"What news have you men to tell us,
What new message do you bring us?"1

37 Vainamoinen answers plainly:
"All our news is of the Sampo
And concerns the ciphered cover.
We are here to share the Sampo
And to view the ciphered cover." 40

43 Said the mistress of Pohjola:
"There is never enough, good fellows,
In one grouse for two to share,
Nor for three men in a squirrel.
It is good to have the Sampo grinding,
Many-ciphered cover turning
Here in Pohjola's stone fortress,
There inside the copper mountain.
It is good for me myself
To be keeper of the Sampo." 50

53 Said old Vainamoinen then:
"If you will not share it with us,
Give us just the other half,
Then we'll take the whole mill with us,
Take it all off to our vessel."

59 Louhi, mistress of Pohjola,
Furious at the threatening words,
Called together all her people,
Young men eager with their swords,
Warriors ready with their weapons 60
To attack old Vainamoinen.

65 But the staunch old Vainamoinen,
Turned then to his five-stringed harp,
Sat down with the instrument
And began to play it softly.
All the people flocked to listen,
All enraptured with the music,
Men delighted, women laughing,
Even brave men moved to tears,
Youngsters kneeling on the ground. 70

75 Soon the folk began to tire,
Overcome with drowsiness:
All the listeners, all the watchers
Nodded drowsily and slept;
Slept the young, slept the old,
Lulled by Vainamoinen's playing.

81 Then the wise old Vainamoinen,
Knower eternal, seer immortal,
Put his hand into his wallet
And drew out his medicine bag; 80
Took some slumber needles from it
And he salved their eyes with sleep;
Crossed the lashes, sewed the eyelids
Of the weary, drowsing people;
Eased them into deep, long slumber,
Sleeping for a good, long spell,
All the clan of Pohjola,
All the people of the village.

95 Then they went to seize the Sampo
And to spy the ciphered cover 90
In dark Pohjola's stone fortress,
There inside a copper mountain,
Well secured behind nine locks,
And an inner bolt the tenth.

101 Vainamoinen chanted softly
At the copper mountain's gates,
There before the great stone fortress.
Soon the fortress gates were moving
And the iron hinges bulging.

107 Then the craftsman Ilmarinen, 100
As the second man in order,
Buttered the locks and greased the hinges
To prevent the gates from grating
And to stop the hinges creaking.
Loosed the great locks with his fingers,
Pried the bolts up with a mattock;
Now the locks turned over freely,
And the heavy doors swung open.

117 . Then old Vainamoinen said:
"Now, you wayward son of Lempi, 110
My great friend, go get the Sampo,
Heave the ciphered cover up."

123 So the wayward Lemminkainen,
He the handsome man far-minded,
Always ready without urging,
Quick in action without praising,
Went to carry out the Sampo,
Heave the ciphered cover up,
And he said as he was going,
Boasted as he strode along: 120
"What true manhood may be in me,
Manhood in the old man's son,
Let it now uproot the Sampo,
Let it lift the ciphered cover
With the aid of my right foot,
With a light touch of my boot heel."

137 Then he tried to move the Sampo,
Tried to move it, tried to turn it,
Tried to hug it in his lap,
Struggled with it on his knees, iso
But the Sampo would not move
Nor the ciphered cover stir;
It was rooted down so firmly,
Rooted down nine fathoms deep.

145 There's an ox at Pohjola
Which is stout and strong of body,
Tough of flank and finely muscled.
It has horns a fathom long,
One and a half its muzzle thick.

151 Lemminkainen took the ox, 140
Took the great ox from the pasture,
Plow too from the meadow's edge;
With it plowed the Sampo's roots up,
Fastenings of the ciphered cover.
Then the Sampo started moving
As the ciphered cover loosened.

157 First of all old Vainamoinen,
And smith Ilmarinen, second,
Third, the wayward Lemminkainen,
Carried off the magic Sampo 150
Out of Pohjola's stone fortress,
From inside the copper mountain,
And they bore it to their vessel,
Quickly stowed it in their ship.

165 When the Sampo was secured,
Safely stowed there in the hull,
They pushed the boat out on the water,
Hundred-planker on the seawaves.
It went plunging in the water,
Sailing straight out on the billows. 160

171 Then smith Ilmarinen asked:
"Where now shall we take the Sampo,
Where transport the ciphered cover
Far off from these evil places,
From benighted Pohjola?"

177 And old Vainamoinen answered:
"We will take the Sampo yonder
And convey the ciphered cover
To that misty point of land
At the head of Foggy Island, 170
There to keep it for good fortune,
To abide thereon forever.
There's a little space there still,
Just a little place of refuge,
All unpillaged and unharried
Where no swordsman ever comes."

189 Vainamoinen sailed away,
Steering with a cheerful mind,
Happy to be going homeward
As he thus addressed the vessel: 180
"Turn away from Pohjola,
Turn your prow straight homeward now
With these alien lands behind you.

197 "Rock, 0 wind, the vessel gently,
Row the boat, 0 water smoothly,
Help the oars, ease the rudder
On these far'extending waters,
Out upon the open ocean.

203 "Should the oars be tiny oars,
Should the rowers be feeble rowers 190
And the steersmen only dwarflings,
All the skippers only children,
Lend us, Ahto, your own oars
And the power of your vessel.
Give us new and better oars,
Another and a stouter rudder.
You yourself take up the oars,
You yourself assist our rowing.
Let the wooden boat run on,
The iron-oarlock boat plunge forward, 200
Cutting through the foamy water,
Through heavy seas and white-capped billows."

217 Vainamoinen steers at ease,
Ilmarinen rowing first,
Lemminkainen rowing second.
They are rowing on indeed,
Rowing, rowing easily,
Rowing on the clear sea surface,
On the ocean's endless billows.

225 Said the wayward Lemminkainen: 210
"Custom was in former days,
As the rowers rowed the water
So the singers sang their chantey,
But at present in these days
That is never heard at all,
That old chanting in the vessel,
Chantey-singing on the billows."

233 But old Vainamoinen answered:
"On the sea's no place for singing
Nor for ballads on the billows! 220
Singing only lulls you lazy,
Ballads only slow the rowing,
And the golden day would wane
While the night would overtake us
On these far-extending waters,
On the ocean's endless billows."

243 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:
"Time will travel anyway
And the gladsome day depart.
Twilight hastens, night comes quickly 230
Even if we do not sing,
If we do not chant at all."

251 Vainamoinen went on steering,
Sailing on the blue sea surface.
Sailed a day and sailed a second;
On the third day Lemminkainen
Asked him for the second time:
"Why not sing now, Vainamoinen,
Chant, good man of Quiet Water,
Now that you have got the Sampo 240
And our way is clear before us?"

261 But old Vainamoinen answered:
"Ifs too soon as yet for singing,
Early for such jubilation.
Singing will befit the time
And rejoicing will be called for
When our own home doors appear
And their hinges creak out greetings."

269 Said the wayward Lemminkainen:
"If I were sitting in the stern, 250
I would sing with all my power
And would cuckoo to my limit.
Later we may not be able
Ever again to do it fitly.
Since you do not feel like singing
I myself will start a chantey."

277 So the wayward Lemminkainen,
He the handsome man far-minded,
Pursed his mouth and pitched his tone,
And the vain man started chanting 260
And began to play the cuckoo,
Croaking with a cranky voice,
Roaring from a raspy throat.

285 Sang the wayward Lemminkainen,
Howled the handsome man far-minded;
Worked his mouth, his black beard shaking
As his chin was wagging wryly.
Far away the song was heard,
Far away across the water,
Echoed through six villages, 270
Far off over seven seas.

293 A crane was standing on a stump
At the end of a wet tussock,
Busy counting out his toe bones,
Lifting up each foot in turn.
Suddenly the bird was frightened
By young Lemminkainen's bawling.

299 It let out a wondrous squawking,
Startled by the awful singing.
On the instant it went flying, 280
Flew across to Pohjola.
Then when it arrived there safely,
Reached the fen of Pohjola,
It was squawking madly still,
Uttering angry gutturals
And aroused all Pohjola,
Woke that evil power alert.

309 Then the mistress of Pohjola,
Thus awakened from her sleep,
Hurried to the cattle yard 290
And inspected all her cattle.
Then she ran out to the granary,
Counting over all her living,
But there were no cattle missing,
Nor had any grain been stolen.

317 Then she hurried to the fortress,
To the copper mountain's gate,
Where she cried out on arriving:
"O poor me, my wretched days!
Strangers have been here already 300
And have loosened all the locks,
Broken through the fortress gates
And burst the iron hinges.
Have they carried off the Sampo,
Taken it like highway robbers?"

327 Yes, the Sampo had been stolen:
Gone the many-ciphered cover
Out of Pohjola's stone fortress,
From inside the Copper Mountain,
So secure behind nine locks 310
And an inner bolt the tenth.

333 Louhi, matriarch of Northland,
Was disturbed, enraged by this:
Saw in it a loss of power
And a loss of reputation.
She began to pray to the Mistmaid:
"Mistmaid, keeper of the fogs!
Sift out vapor through your sieve,
Hang out veils of spreading vapor,
Foggy curtains from the sky, 320
Hazy hangings in the air
Spreading on the clear sea surface,
Out upon the open ocean
To confuse old Vainamoinen,
That the man of Quiet Water
Cannot find his bearings out there.

347 "But if nothing comes of this,
Eternal Turso, son of Ancient,
Raise your head above the water,
Lift your crown above the wave. 330
Drown the men ofKalevala,
Sink the men of Quiet Water
And destroy these awful people
Underneath the deepest billows!
Get the Sampo back to Northland
Without its rolling off the vessel!

357 "If these prayers are not enough,
Ukko, thou of gods the highest,
Golden king of all the heavens,
Silver ruler, raise a storm wind, 340
Raise a violent hurricane.
Create a wind and send a wave
Straight against old Vaino's vessel
So that he cannot escape us,
Quiet Water not elude us."

367 Then the Mistmaid, fog dispenser,
Breathes a vapor on the sea,
And the air is filled with fog
Which delays old Vainamoinen,
Holds him there for three whole nights, 350
Halted on the blue sea surface,
Keeps him from his destination
Or from traveling anywhere.

375 After standing for three nights,
Moveless on the blue sea surface,
Vainamoinen spoke out firmly:
"There is not a man so feeble,
Not the most incompetent,
Who must yield to cloudy weather
Or be overcome by fog." 360

383 With his sword he struck the water,
Slashed the blue sea with his iron;
There a jet of mead rose gushing
And a flow of honey followed.
Then the mist rose up to heaven,
And the fog dissolved in air.
So the sea was clear of mist
And the billows free of fog.
There the sea lay widely open
And the world was big again. 370

393 After a bit of time had passed
Like a tiny rash of rain,
Then they heard a wild commotion
Down beside the red boat's planking.
Foaming waves were roaring high,
Rolling in on Vaino's vessel.

399 Thereupon smith Ilmarinen
Was so fearfully affrighted
That the blood drained from his features
And his ruddy cheeks turned ashen. 380
Then he drew a woolen blanket
Quickly over head and ears,
Covered his face up very neatly,
Tied his eyes up even tighter.

407 Vainamoinen, looking over,
Glancing down beside the vessel,
Saw the oddest little creature
In the sea beside the red boat.
Eternal Turso, son of Ancient,
Raised his head above the water, 390
Pushed his crown up through the billow.

415 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Caught the creature by the ears,
Heaved him up and questioned him:
"Eternal Turso, son of Ancient,
Why do you rise up from the sea,
Lift yourself above the billow
And reveal yourself to humans,
Even to a Kalevalander?"

425 Eternal Turso, son of Ancient, 400
Was not happy with such treatment
Nor so greatly frightened by it,
So he does not even answer.

429 Vainamoinen asked again,
Asked a second and a third time:
"Eternal Turso, son of Ancient,
Why now rise up from the sea,
Lift yourself above the billows?"

435 Eternal Turso, son of Ancient,
On the third time gave his answer: 41 o
"This is the reason why I came,
Why I came up from the sea,
Raised myself above the billow:
I intended to destroy you,
Kill the clan of Kalevala,
Take the Sampo back to Pohjola.
But if you release me now,
Lower me back into the billow,
Grant me thus my wretched life,
Never again will I return 420
Or come in the sight of humans."

447 Then old Vainamoinen dropped him,
Threw the wretch into the seawave
As he gave him this stern caution:
"Eternal Turso, son of Ancient,
Do not rise up from the sea,
Lift your head above the billow,
Never in the sight of humans,
Never after this day's doings."

455 Never has he risen, since, 430
Nor will he rise up from the water,
Never in the sight of humans,
Not as long as sun and moon
And the cheerful daylight brighten
Or the sight of sky delight us.

461 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Calmly steered his vessel onward.
After a bit of time had passed
Like a tiny rash of rain,
Ukko, Jumala the highest, 440
He the ruler of the air,
Ordered all the winds to blow,
Vehement storms to rage with fury.

469 Then the winds began to blow,
Vehement storms to rage with fury.
High the west wind lashed the water,
And the southwest with more fury;
Even stronger blew the south wind,
While the east wind whistled madly;
Awesomely the southeast howling, 450
And the north wind weirdly wailing.

477 Trees were stripped of all their foliage,
Firs denuded of their needles;
Heather bared of all its blossoms
And the grasses of their sheaths.
Black ooze from the bottom rose
To ensoil the lucid waters.

483 Furiously the winds were blasting,
Waves were banging at the vessel.
The pikebone harp was blown away, 460
Overboard the fish-fin harp
To the folk of Vellamo,
Lasting joy to Ahto's kingdom.
On the billows Ahto saw it,
On the water his children saw it;
Took the graceful instrument,
Bore it to their watery home.
In the eyes of Vainamoinen
Tears were brimming as he spoke:
"There my handiwork has gone, 470
Gone my precious instrument,
Lost the everlasting joy.
I will never know the like of it,
Never in my lifetime
Know the joy of pike-tooth music,
Hear the clear notes of the fishbones."

503 Now the craftsman Ilmarinen
Was indeed in great distress,
And he said so in these words:
"Woe to me and all my days! 480
Since I set out on these waters,
Out upon the open ocean,
Trod these planks that roll beneath me
Where the timbers shake and shiver.
Now my hair has known the wind,
Every hair the awful weather;
Evil days my beard befallen,
Suffered all upon these waters.
Seldom has the like been known,
Seldom have such winds been seen, 490
Such fierce foamings of the water
Or such heaving of the white-capped billows.
Now the wind must be my refuge
And the sea my only mercy."

521 Vainamoinen thinks it over:
"There's no crying on a boat,
Never any whimpering.
'Weeping will not ward off danger,
Crying cancel evil chances.'2"

527 Then he prayed to the elements: 500
"0 thou water, curb thy son,
Thou, O wave, hold back thy child;
Thou, O Ahto, calm the breakers,
Vellamo, subdue the waters
That they do not overwhelm us,
Oversplashing rib and gunwale.

535 "Rise, O wind, as high as heaven,
Blow yourself up to the clouds,
To your tribe and to your family,
To your clan and to your kindred. 510
Do not sink the wooden vessel
Nor capsize the boat of firewood.
Sooner fell the trees for clearings,
Overturn the firs on hillocks,"

543 Said the wayward Lemminkainen,
He the handsome man far-minded:
"Come, thou Eagl, out of Finnmark,
Bring us three of your own feathers,
Three of eagle, two of raven
As protection for our boat, 520
Bulwark for our feeble vessel."

551 He himself built up the gunwale,
Adding planking to the freeboard,
Heightened it with extra planking
Till it rose full fathom high
So no wave could overtop it
Or come splashing on one's beard.

557 Now the bulwarks were sufficient
And the sideboards high enough
To withstand the fiercest wind 530
And the strongest push of seawave
As they travel through the foamers,
Sailing over hill-high billows.


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