The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 44


Vainamoinen is considering,
In his mind the thought is growing:
"Now would be the time for music,
This the time for high rejoicing
For this good new life of ours
In our beautiful new homesteads.
But the five-stringed harp has vanished
And my own joy lost forever,
Sunken down among the fishes,
In the grottoes of the salmon, 10
To the spirits of the deep,
Vellamo's immortal sea folk.
It will never be relinquished,
Ahto never will return it.

15 "Come, you good smith Ilmarinen!
As you hammered long ago,
Hammered even yesterday,
Hammer for me now today:
Hammer out a rake of iron
With the rake teeth close together, 20
Close-set teeth and long, long handle
So that I can rake the biltows,
Rake the waves up into windrows,
Scrape the shore and comb the seaweed
To recover the five-stringed harp,
To get back the joyance giver
From the fishy sea abysses,
From the grottoes of the salmon."

29 Ilmarinen, smith eternal,
Hammered out a rake of iron so
With a handle made of copper,
Teeth a hundred fathoms long
And the handle full five hundred.

35 Old reliable Vainamoinen
With the iron rake in hand
Walked along a little way,
Stepped along a little distance
Over to the steely rollers,
To the copper landing stage.

41 There were one boat, two boats waiting, 40
Ready on the steely rollers,
At the copper landing stage.
One was old, the other new.

47 Said Vainamoinen to the new one:
"Start now out upon the water,
Launch yourself upon the billows
Quite without an arm to guide you,
And without a thumb to touch you."

53 So it set out on the water,
Launched itself upon the billows. 50
Old reliable Vainamoinen
Sat himself there at the stern
And began to comb the sea,
Searchingly to sweep the billows;
Swept up heaps of water lilies,
Raked out piles of shore-drift rubbish,
Strands of seaweed, bits of rushes;
Grappled down in every grotto,
Harrowed every deep and shallow,
Raked up windrows from the reefs. 60
But he did not find it there,
His lost pike-bone instrument,
His forever vanished gladness,
That lost harp, the joyance giver.

69 Vainamoinen, turning homeward,
Head bowed down in deep dejection
With his pointed hat all crooked,
Puts his feelings into words:
"Ifs not there-no, nevermore!
That pike-tooth harp, that thing of joy, 70
That melodious fishbone ringer."

77 He was walking through a clearing
On the border of a forest
When he heard a birch tree crying,
Heard a curly birch1 complaining.

83 He approached it, went up nearer,
Said: "Why crying, lovely birch,
Why lamenting, tree so green,
You, white-girdled one, complaining?
You have not been called to war so
Nor are needed in the battle."

89 Artfully the birch tree answered:
"Several say so, many think so,
That I live a life all joyful,
Elated in some ecstasy;
And of course, a slender tree,
I'm elated with my worries,
Rejoicing in anxieties,
Complaining in my days of trouble,
Moaning here to ease my sorrow. 90

99 "I, poor hopeless, mourn my dullness;
I bemoan my own shortcomings.
I, poor thing, am so unlucky,
Utterly without defenses
In bad places on broad pastures.

105 "While the fortunate and lucky
Eagerly await the summer,
Long and warming days of summer,
I, poor stupid, wait in trembling
Lest my bark be stripped from me 100
And my leafy boughs denuded.

113 "Often in the brief spring season
Boys and girls approach with knives,
Come at me, the wretched one,
With five knives to carve my belly,
To let out the sap within me.
In the summer wicked shepherds
Strip away my smooth white mantle,
Which they fashion into knife sheaths,
Drinking scoops and berry baskets. 110

123 "Often girls encamp beneath me
Making merry, dancing round me,
Cutting off my leafy twigs,
Binding them for sauna slappers.

129 "Often I, unfortunate,
Often I, the wretched creature,
Am cut down to slash on clearings
Or cut up for common firewood.
Thrice already in this summer,
In this most delightful summer, 120
Men have been beneath my branches,
Sharpening up their ready axes,
Menacing my wretched head
And endangering my poor life.

135 "That was the sum of summer joy,
My rejoicing in sweet summer.
Wintertime is no improvement,
Snow time no more merciful.

143 "So indeed and always early
Sorrow changes my appearance, 130
And my head is bowed down badly.
And my face grows pale and paler
When I think of those black days,
Ponder on those evil times.

149 "Then the wind brings on great troubles
And the cold more poignant cares:
With the wind my green coat goes,
With the cold, my lovely dress.
I, poor me, the wretched birch tree,
Stand in utter nakedness, 140
Altogether without raiment,
Shivering in the bitter weather,
Crying in the cold of winter."

159 Said reliable Vainamoinen:
"Do not weep now, tree so green,
Leaf-bedecked and girdled white!
You will have a merry future,
New and joyous life awaits you.
Soon now you will weep for gladness
And sing out in ecstasy." 150

167 Then he carved the weeping birch tree,
Whittled out an instrument;
On a summer's day he carved it,
Shaped it to a fiv,e-stringed harp
On that misty point of land
At the head of Foggy Island.
Whittled out the framework of it,
Body of the new joy giver,
Framework from the tough old birch tree,
Body from the curly birchwood.2 160

177 Said old Vainamoinen then:
"There's the body of the harp,
The eternal joyance giver.
Where to get the pegs to tune it,
Whence the screws to set the tone?"

183 In the barnyard grew an oak tree,
Tall old oak tree at the yard end.
On the oak are level branches,
On each branch an acorn growing,
On each acorn a golden wheel, 170
On each golden wheel a cuckoo.

189 When the cuckoo there is calling,
His five-noted song is singing,
From his throat bright gold is welling,
From his beak the silver pouring,
Pouring on a golden hillock,
Down upon a hill of silver.
From this oak will come the harp pegs,
Screws to fit the curly-birch frame.

197 Said old Vainamoinen then: 180
"Now I have the harp pegs ready,
Screws to fit the curly-birch frame.
But a small thing still is lacking:
Five tongues for the joyance giver.
Where to get the strings for it,
Tongues to make the joyful music?"

205 Then he went to seek the strings.
He is walking through a clearing,
In the clearing sat a virgin,
She was sitting in a hollow, 190
But the maiden was not weeping
Nor was she rejoicing either,
Only singing to herself;
Sang to while away the evening,
Hoping that her lover's coming,
Musing on her sweet beloved.

215 Old reliable Vainamoinen,
Stealthily approached barefooted
With no wrappings on his feet,
And when he was there by her side, 200
He began to ask for hairs,
And he did so in these words:
"Give me, virgin, of your hair,
Of your hair a few long tresses,
Strands to string my joyance giver,
Tongues of gladness everlasting."

225 And she gave him of her tresses,
Of her long, luxuriant tresses,
Five, six, even seven strands,
And they made the joyful harpstrings, 210
Tongues of gladness everlasting.

231 When the instrument was ready,
Then the staunch old Vainamoinen
Sat down on a solid rock,
On a boulder at the door.

235 Took the harp into his hands,
Drew the joyance giver to him,
Turned the neck up toward the heavens,
With the base propped on his knees.
Then he tuned the instrument 220
And adjusted it for playing.

241 When he got the pitch adjusted
And his instmment full toned,
He laid it crosswise on his knees,
Lowered ten fingers to the strings,
Each five fingers skipping lightly,
Nimbly plucking out a tune.

249 There the staunch old Vainamoinen,
As he played upon his harp
With small hands and slender fingers, 230
Thumbs bent outward, all made music:
There the curly birch was speaking,
Leafy sapling lovely sounding;
There the golden cuckoo calling,
And the virgin's hair rejoicing.

257 Vainamoinen's fingers played,
With its tongues the harp resounded:
Mountains echoed, boulders crackled,
All the crags and cliffs were quaking;
In the waves the rocks were splashing, 240
Gravel swirling on the waters;
Tall old pine trees jubilating,
Tree stumps dancing on the heaths.

265 In the midst of their embroidery,
Sisters-in-law, Kaleva women,
Ran like rivers, came in streams,
Young ones laughing, matrons joyful
To hearken to the harmony
And to wonder at the joyance.

273 All the men stood hat in hand, 250
All the women hand on cheek,
All the girls with tearful eyes,
Boys all kneeling on the ground,
Listening to the joyance giver,
All astonished at the joyance.
Speaking with a single tongue,
In one voice they all declared:
"Never was anything like this heard,
Never before such sweet music,
Never in the whole wide world 260
While the moonlight's glimmered golden."

287 Far the wondrous playing echoes,
Heard throughout six villages.
There was not a woodland creature
That did not come out to listen
To the clear-voiced instrument,
To the thrilling of the harp.

293 Every wild.beast of the woodland
Crouched upon its paws to listen,
Hearken to the music maker 270
And to wonder at the joyance.
Birds came flying through the air,
Settling down on twig and sapling,
And fish of every species
Crowded up against the shore.
Even worms beneath the earth
Crept and crawled up to the surface,
Curling up and coiling hearkened
To the sweet-voiced instrument,
To the ever joyous harp, 280
To the play of Vainamoinen.

307 There old Vainamoinen played,
Surely played so beautifully.
Wondrously the music echoed.
Played a day and played a second
With but one meal in the morning,
And he changed his belt but once,
Only once he changed his shirt.

315 When he played in his own cabin,
In his simple home of pine logs, 290
Rafters rattled, floorboards bounded,
Ceilings singing, doors hallooing,
With the windows wide rejoicing,
Even all the hearthstones stirring
And the birchen uprights whooping.

323 When he sauntered in the fir woods,
Roaming among the evergreens,
Spruces bowed down there before him,
Pine trees turned upon the hill;
Cones were rolling on the ground, 300
And the needles showering down.

329 When he roamed the leafy groves
Or he walked the open clearing,
All the leafy groves were merry
And the clearings always joyous,
While the flowers waked to frolic
And the seedlings set to dancing.


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