The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 46


When the news reached Pohjola,
When it got to that cold village,
News of Vainola's recovery,
Kalevala freed of sickness,
Of her pestilential magic,
Dread diseases conjured by her,

7 It so angered mistress Louhi,
Sparse-tooth dame of Pohjola,
That she cried in envious fury:
"I remember other magic, 10
Know my way by other roads:
From the heath I'll rouse the bear,
From the wilderness old curve-claw,
Let him loose on Vaino's living,
Aye, on Kalevala's cattle."

17 From the heath she roused the bear,
Roused old bruin from the barrens,
Let him loose on Vaino's clearings,
Kalevala's cattle pastures.

21 Said the staunch old Vainamoinen: 20
"Now, good brother Ilmarinen,
Beat me out a brand new spearhead,
Shape it with three cutting edges,
Fit it with a shaft of copper.
There's a bear to be captured
And a prize fur to be taken
Lest he come to hurt my geldings,
Hungering after my fine mares,
Come to kill my herded cattle,
Scattering my cows astray." so

33 Ilmarinen forged it for him,
Made it neither short nor long,
But of middling length he made it.
On the blade a wolf was standing,
With a bear beside the spearhead,
Leaping elk upon the ferrule;
On the shaft a colt was trotting,
On the hilt a deer was kicking.

41 It was autumn, snow was falling,
Fine new snow was drifting down, 40
Light as wool of autumn ewe,
Fine as fur, of winter hare.

45 Vainamoinen made a prayer,
Chanted the bear hunter's charm:

47 "I am wanting, I am yearning
To go out into the forest\
Where the woodland girls are waiting,
To the playgrounds of the wood nymphs.

51 "To the woods I go from men,
To my labors out of doors. 50
Now receive me as your man,
One of your own people, Tapio.
Give me luck, good hunting give me
For the bear, that forest beauty.

57 "Pleasant mistress of the woodland,
Topic's good wife, Tellervo,1
Tie your dogs, and keep your mongrels
Close behind a woodbine hedge
Or tied in an oaken shed.1

63 "Little Otso, woodland apple, 60
Honeypaw, you dear stout fellow,
When you hear this good man coming,
Hear me stepping softly near you,
Knot your claws up in your fur
And your teeth inside your gums
So that they can do no harm
Even when you're on the prowl.

71 "0 my bearkin, you my only,
Honeypaw, my little beauty,
Just lie down on turfy tussock, 70
Go to sleep on a lovely rock
Where the tall pines sway above you
And you hear the fir trees humming.
There, my Otso, roll about,
Twist and turn, my honeypaw
Like a hazel grouse on her nest,
Like a wild goose in her brooding."

81 Then old Vainamoinen heard it,
Heard the barking of his dog,
Heard the baying of his hound so
In the dooryard of old Small-Eye
In the barnyard of old Blunt-Nose.
And he wondered to himself:
"Thought I heard a cuckoo calling
Or the joybird4 sweetly singing,
But I heard no cuckoo calling
And no joybird softly cooing.
It's my own dog I hear barking,
Handsome hound, the lucky creature;
Here he is in Otso's dooryard, 90
At the doorway of the beauty."

95 There the staunch old Vainamoinen
Now at last encountered Otso;5
Overturned his satin beds,
Tumbling out his golden couches.6
Then he voiced his high thanksgiving:
"Thanks be to thee, 0 Jumala,
Praise to thee, thou sole creator!
Thanks for Otso as my portion,
Gold of the forest as my booty!" 100

105 Long he gazed upon that booty,
And he spoke with honeyed caution:
"My own Otso, you my only,
Good old Honeypaw, the handsome!
Be not angry without reason;
I am not the one who slew you,7
You yourself rolled off a shaft-bow,8
You yourself down from a pine bough;
Tore your wooden trousers through,
Ripped your piny coat across-110
But then autumn weather is slippery
And these cloudy days are dark.

117 "Golden cuckoo of the woodland,
You, the handsome shaggy one!
Leave your home, your dwelling place,
Let it stay there cold and empty;
Leave this hut of birchen branches,
Shanty made of willow twigs.
Let us travel, step out briskly,
Pride of woodland, splendid fellow; 120
Onward, Lightfoot, trip it Bluesock,
From these yards, these narrow trails
To the company of people,
The society of men.
There they will not treat you badly
And the living there is generous.
Honey will be dished out to you,
And fresh mead drink will be offered
To all strangers who arrive,
To anyone who wants to come. 130

137 "Set out from here as you must,
From this little nest of yours,
Come with me beneath a rooftree,
Underneath a splendid ceiling.
Glide across the snow now softly
Like a lily on a pond;
Sway along now on your pine bough9
Like a squirrel on a fir branch."

145 Vainamoinen, singer immortal,
Strode across the clearings playing, 140
Playing till the moorlands echoed,
Marching with his shaggy bundle,
With his celebrated guest.
In the house the music's heard,
Under the roof the echo sounds.10

153 All at once the people stirred
And the handsome gathering whispered:
"Hear that sound; it's magic music,"
Charmings of the backwoods minstrel,
Like the warbling of a crossbill, 150
Like the fluting of a wood nymph."

159 Vainamoinen reached the farmyard.
From the house the people hurried
And the handsome crowd inquired:
"Is the gold already moving
And the silver circulating,
Lovely money coming to us,
Are the kopeks on the road?"
Did the forest give you Honeypaw
Or a lynx as Tapio's bounty 160
Since you come so gaily singing,
Gliding on your skis rejoicing?"

171 Old reliable Vaino answered:
"Incantations caught the otter,
Jumala's game by words of magic.
That is why we come on singing,
Gliding on our skis rejoicing.

177 "But our game is not an otter,
It is neither lynx nor otter,
But the prize himself is coming, 170
Glory of the backwoods marching,
The old man himself approaching,
Good old Broadcloth-Coat parading.
If our visitor is welcome,
Bang your doors wide open for him;
If he happens to be hated,
Slam your doors shut securely."

187 But the people answering shouted,
And the goodly gathering replied:
"Health, O Otso, on your coming, 180
For your visit, Honeypaw;
Welcome to these clean-kept farmyards,
To these lovely homesteads here.

193 "This I looked for all my lifetime,
Waited for throughout my growth-time:
For the sound of Tapio's horn,
For the woodpipe's clarion message
That the forest gold was coming,
That we'd get the woodland silver
Coming to these little farmsteads, 190
Down along these narrow pathways. ,

201 "Hoped as for a good crop year
Or the coming of the summer;
As a ski for snow new-fallen,
Left ski for a fast new ski-trail;
As a maiden for a lover,
As a red-cheek for a partner.

207 "Sat at twilight by the windows,
Mornings on the storehouse doorsteps,
Weeks at gates and months at lane ends, 200
And whole winters in cold barnyards.
Stayed while loose snow turned to hardpack,
Till the hardpack turned to slush,
Slush to mud and mud to gravel,
Gravel to a loamy soil,
Till the loamy soil was greening.
Every morning I would wonder,
And keep asking every day:
Where has Otso gone so long,
Where the forest darling idling? 210
Has he wandered off to Viro,
Somehow run away from Finland?"

223 Here old Vaino interrupted:
"Where now shall I take my guest,
Where conduct my golden treasure?
Shall I house him in the hay barn,
Lay him in the litter room?"

229 Readily the people answered:
"Take our guest there over yonder,
There conduct our golden treasure 220
Underneath that lofty rooftree,
Underneath that splendid ceiling.
There the food has been laid out,
Drinks all ready for the drinking,
Floors all swept and floorboards,scoured,
All the women in clean clothing,
Handsome with their bright headdresses,
In their whitely washen raiment."

243 Now old Vainamoinen spoke,
To the bear addressed himself: 230
"O my little bearkin, birdling,
Honeypaw, my precious bundle,
There is still some way to travel,
A little stretch of heath to cover.

249 "Let us move on, step out briskly,
Striding boldly forward, Blacksock;
Hustle forward, Broadcloth-britches,
On the leadways of the titmouse,
On the flyways of the sparrow
Till you're under five fine rafters, 240
Under a six-fold raftered rooftree.

257 "Look out now, you poor women,
That your cattle are not frightened
Or your little flocks stampeded,
Livestock of the mistress injured
When old Otso comes to visit,
When old Hairy-muzzle crowds in.

263 "Out, boys, from the entry way
And you housemaids from the doorjambs!
He is coming to the cabin, 250
The fine fellow marching in.

267 "Otso, apple of the forest,
Woodland beauty, good stout fellow!
Don't be frightened by the housemaids
With their ornamented hair;
Do not let the women scare you
With their stockings all awry.
All the women of the household
Move into the chimney corner
When the man comes in the cabin, 260
When the great boy marches in."13

277 Said the staunch old Vainamoinen:
"Welcome here, 0 Jumala,
Underneath this famous rooftree,
Underneath this splendid ceiling.
Where now shall I put my dear one,
Where lay down my furry bundle?"

283 And the people shouted gladly:
"Welcome, welcome on your coming!
Lead your birdling over there, 270
Take your dear one to the bench end.
On the iron bench end lay him
Where his coat may be examined,
Quality of fur inspected.

291 "Do not mind these details, Otso,
Do not be offended by them.
When the time comes for your fur test,
The assaying of your fur gold,
Your fine coat will not be damaged
Nor will your fur be looked upon 280
As the tatters of the wretched,
As the rags of ragamuffins."

299 Then the staunch old Vainamoinen
Stripped the fur coat off the bear
And laid it in the storehouse loft;
Put the bear meat in the stew pot,
In the brightly burnished copper,
In the copper-bottomed boiler.

305 Pots were on the fire already,
On the blaze the copper kettles 290
Filled up to the brim with bear meat,
Collops of the bear meat cooking,
Seasoned with salt from distant regions,
Carried here from German country,
From the head of Dvina's waters.
It was rowed here through the Saltsound
And unloaded from the vessel.

315 When the potpourri was done
And the kettles off the fire,
Then the booty was escorted, 300
Yea, the crossbill grandly guided
To the head of a. long pine table
Where full golden bowls of mead
And a bumper full of beer
Are set before him for his pleasure.

323 Pinewood table, copper dishes,
Silver spoons and golden knives
Were the setting for the banquet.
Bowls were brimming, platters loaded
With the bounty of the forest, 310
Golden harvest of the woodland.

331 There old Vainamoinen said:
"Gold breast, old man of the knoll,
Master in the House of Tapio;
Honeyed matron of the woodland,
Kindly mistress of the forest;
Fair-skinned lad, son of Tapio,
Red-cap guardian of the woodlands;
Tapio's daughter, Tellervo,
And all the other woodland folk! 320

341 "Come here to your ox's wedding,
To the banquet of the long fur.
There is meat enough to eat,
Food aplenty, drink aplenty,
Food enough here for yourselves
And enough to give your neighbors."

347 Now the people gladly answered
And the handsome crowd responded:
"Tell us, where was Otso born,14
Where did money-fur grow up? 330
Was he born upon a straw-bed,
Brought up in a sauna corner?"

353 So old Vainamoinen told them
And related Otso's birth:
"Otso was not born on straw
Nor on chaff of threshing floor.
Yonder Honeypaw was born,
There our Otso given birth-
Up there yonder by the Moon
And the navel of the Sun, 340
On the shoulders of the Great Bear
Where dwell the virgins of the air
And the daughters of creation.

363 "On the rim of the horizon,
Round the very pole of heaven
And along a cloudy border
Walked a maiden in the sky,
Walked a virgin in blue stockings
And in shoes of many colors
Carrying a kit of wool, 350
Kit of fur beneath her arm.
Tossed a wool tuft on the water,
Tuft of fur upon the billows.
It was cradled by the wind,
Rocked by breaths of lively air
And the spirit of the water;
Carried shoreward on a billow,
Landed on a honeyed headland,
Stranded on a honeyed cape shore.

379 "Mielikki, the forest mistress, 360
Careful housewife of the woodland,
Snatched the wool tuft from the water,
Bits of fine wool from the billows.

383 "Then she bound them all together,
Wrapped the bundle neatly swaddled;
Laid it in a maple hamper,
In a lovely swinging cradle;
Bore it by the cradle straps,
By the golden strings she bore it
To the broadest of the branches, 370
To the leafiest of the boughs.

391 "There she gently swung her dear one,
In the cradle rocked her precious
Underneath a flower-crowned fir tree,
Underneath a spreading pine tree.
There she brought up little Otso,
Reared the noble-coated fur one,
Reared him in a honey, thicket,
In a honey-fragrant forest.

399 "Stout and handsome grew our Otso 380
Though his legs were short and bandy.
He grew snub-nosed and broad-headed
With a muzzle soft and stubby,
And his fur grew fine and shaggy,
But he had no teeth, no claws,
As yet toothless, clawless, helpless.

407 "So kind Mielikki suggested:
'I would fashion claws for him,
Try to get him teeth as well,
If he would not do bad deeds, 390
Not resort to ugly actions.'

413 "So young Otso gave his promise
At the knees of Mielikki,
In the sight of Jumala,
In the face of the Almighty
That he would not do bad deeds,
Not resort to ugly actions.16

419 "On her search went Mielikki,
Sought for teeth and sought for claws,
Questioning the trees in turn, 400
Deep-rooted rowan and tough juniper,
Tangled roots and pitchy pine stumps-
But no tooth, no claw discovered.

429 "On the heath a pine was growing,
On a knoll a fir was standing;
On the pine a silver branch,
On the fir a golden bough.
With bare hands she broke the branches.
From the pine she made him claws
Which she fastened to his paws; 410
From the fir branch made him teeth
Which she set into his jawbone
And implanted in his gums.

437 "Then she let her dolly go,
Sent her precious far away,
Sent him out to roam the marshes,
Run through copses and through clearings
And to haunt the barren heathlands.
Told him he should walk sedately
And be graceful in his movements, 420
To enjoy the days of pleasure,
Spend his best days on vast marshes
At the farthest poles of earth
On the edge of playing fields;
To go barefoot in the summer,
Without stockings in the autumn;
How to live through all the bad times
And be lazy in the winter
Huddled in a chokecherry hut,
Sheltered by a piny fortress, 430
Or beneath a spreading fir tree,
In a bush of juniper,
Underneath five woolen mantles,
Covered over by eight blankets.

459 "It is there I got my booty,
It is there I caught my quarry."

461 Then the younger people ask him
And the old folk keep repeating:
"What was it pleased the forest,
Made the wilderness propitious, 440
What enticed the woodland master
To become so very generous
That he sacrificed his dear one,
Yielded up his Honey-Otso?
Was it by the force of weapons,
Was it by the spear or arrow?"

471 Staunch old Vainamoinen answered:
"Yes, the forest was forthcoming
And the wilderness propitious,
Well-pleased the woodland master, 450
And he was so very generous.

477 "Mielikki, the forest mistress,
Tellervo, the maid of Tapio,
Forest maiden, formed in beauty,
Little woodland serving maid,
Went ahead to show the way:
Cut the blazes on the tree trunks,
Set up signs to mark the trails
And directed the whole journey;
Blazed a trail across the country, 460
Setting signs upon the hills
To the doors of noble Otso
On the edge of Money Island.

489 "When I got there, found his lair,
Spear or arrow was not needed.
He himself rolled off a shaft-bow,
Tumbled from a crooked pine bough,
And the branches cracked his breastbone,
Brushwood tore his belly open."

497 Then he said: "My dear Otso, 470
Little Otso, you my only,
Let me take your headgear18 off.
First your biters, your sparse teeth;
Open up your jaws now, wider.
Do not be offended either
At whatever happens to us,
Breaking bones or cracking skulls
Or loud clattering of teeth.

509 "Now I take the nose from Otso
As a help to my own nose. 480
I don't take it as unsharing19
Since it will not be alone.

513 "Now I take an ear from Otso
Thus to strengthen my own ear.
I don't take it as unsharing
Since it will not be alone.

517 "Now I take an eye from Otso
Thus to strengthen my own vision.
I don't take it as unsharing
Since it will not be alone. 490

521 "Now I take the forehead from him
Thus to strengthen my own forehead.
I don't take it as unsharing
Since it will not be alone.

525 "Now I take the muzzle from him
Thus to strengthen my own muzzle.
I don't take it as unsharing
Since it will not be alone.

529 "Now I take the tongue from Otso
Thus to strengthen my own tongue. 500
I don't take it as unsharing
Since it will not be alone.

533 "I would take him for a man,
Take him for a worthy fellow
Who could loose the bony locks,
Who could conjure tooth from jawbone,
Loose the set from steely jaws,
Pluck them with a fist of iron."

539 No such man as that came forward,
No one there was equal to it. 510
He himself performed the magic
As he conjured tooth from jawbone,
Charmed the set from steely jaws
Held between his bony knees,
Tight within his fist of iron.

545 Taking Otso's teeth, he said:
"Little apple, woodland bearkin,
Forest beauty, stout old fellow!
There's a journey now before you,
A trip to make unhesitating 520
From this hut, this humble shelter
To a better, higher home,
To a far more spacious dwelling.

555 "Now, my golden, let us go.
Set out in your lovely fur,
Step out briskly on the pig run
And across the trail of piglets,
Quickly by the hill of saplings
To the mountains high before us,
To the bushy-headed pine tree, 530
To the hundred-branching fir tree.
It's a place that's good to live in
And to while away the time in
Listening to the cadent bells,
To the clanking of the cowbells
And the tinkling of the small bells."

567 When Vainamoinen got back home,
There the younger people asked him:
"Where now did you leave your booty,
Where dispose the golden quarry - 540
Maybe left him on some ice pack,
Maybe in the slush you sank him;
Drowned him in some muddy swamp hole,
Buried him beneath the heather?"

577 But old Vainamoinen answered:
"On no ice pack have I left him,
Did not sink him in the slush;
There the dogs would worry him,
Evil birds would flap about him.
In no swamp hole did I drown him, 550
Bury him beneath the heather;
There the grub worms would devour him,
Or the black ants would consume him.

587 "Took my booty, my small portion,
To the top of a golden hillock
On a copper-shouldered ridge;
Left him in a sound, clean tree,
On a hundred-branching fir tree
On the broadest of the branches,
On the leafiest of the boughs 560
As a joy to all the people,
As an honor to all travelers.

597 "I arranged him on the bough,
Gums turned eastward, eyes southwestward;
Did not set him on the tree tip.
Had I put him on the tree tip,
Ahava, the cold spring wind,
Would have treated him with violence.
Nor did I leave him on the ground.
Had I left him on the ground, 570
Pigs would nuzzle him about,
Rooting snouts would overturn him."

607 When his story here was ended,
Vainamoinen started singing
For the honor of the evening,
For the joy the day had brought them.

611 "Hold your lights up, all ye sconces,
So that I can see while singing.
Now the time has come for music,
Eager is my mouth for singing." 580

617 There he sang, sang and played
For the joyance of the evening.
When his song had ended, said,
Spoke at last a final prayer:
"Grant us, God, another time
In the future, firm Creator,
To assemble here rejoicing,
To enjoy the same once more
At the banquet of the roly-poly,
At the feasting of the long-fur. 590

627 "Grant us this at least, 0 Lord,
In the future, true Creator,
That the way be clear with markers,
Blazes cut along the pathway
Pointing in the right direction
For this staunch and manly nation.10

633 "Grant, 0 Lord, thou true Creator,
That again these narrow meadows
And these unpretentious acres
Shall hear again the horn of Tapio, 600
Far and wide the wood note sounded.

639 "May the days flow on with music
And the nights with merrymaking
On these acres, in this country,
On these spacious farms of Finland
For the rising younger people,
For the coming generations."


Use of the text for commercial purpose is forbidden

Table of contents