KALEVALA
The selected poems of Kalevala
Калевала'99

"Kalevala".


Runo 47

THE HIDING OF THE SUN AND MOON

Old reliable Vainamoinen
For a long time played his harp,
Played and sang, sang and played
Till the very air was joyful.

5 It was heard up at the Moonhouse
And the windows of the Sun.
Moon descended from the Moonhouse,
Settling on a crooked birch tree;
Sun came down from his high mansion
To the crown of an old pine tree, 10
There to hear the minstrel playing,
Spellbound by the rapture of it.

13 Louhi, mistress of Pohjola,
Sparse-tooth matron of far Northland,
Snatched the sun and caught the moon
With her bare hands by her magic,
Moon down from the crooked birch tree,
Sun down from the tall old pine tree;
Took them quickly home with her
To the dark of Pohjola. 20

21 There she sang a spell upon them:
Sang the moon from gleaming golden,
Hid it in a writrock cavern,
And she stopped the sun from shining,
Hid it in a steely mountain.
Put it into words herself:
"Never, Moon, shall you escape me,
Rise again to shine out golden,
Nor you. Sun, show your brightness,
Not unless I come to free you, so
I myself, and with nine stallions,'
All the offspring of one mare."

33 When she brought the moon and sun
Into Pohjola's rock hill,
There inside the iron mountain,
She had stolen the light from Vainola,
Left the houses without fire
And the cabins all unlighted.

41 Now perpetual night had fallen,
Pitchy blackness over all. 40
It was night in Kalevala,
In the homes of Vainola,
Even in the heavens yonder
Where great Ukko sits on high.

47 It is gloomy, hard, and tedious
To be lightless, to be fireless;
It is lonely for the people,
Lonely even for great Ukko.

51 He, the high Creator, wondered,
Felt that something was amiss: 50
What was blotting out the moonlight
Since it was no longer gleaming?
Whafs that fog around the sun
Since it is no longer shining?

59 Then he strode along the heavens
On the border of the sky,
Striding in his sky-blue stockings
And his varicolored heel-boots2
Searching for the sun and moon.
But he could not find the moon, 60
Did not meet the sun up there.

67 With his sword, his lightning blade,
He struck out great scintillations,
Sparking fire from his nails,
With his mighty muscles crackling,
On the heights of heaven sounding
Over trembling constellations.

75 Then he seized the new-struck spark,
Caught the new-created ember,
Stored it in his golden wallet, 70
Hid it in a silver casket;
Gave it to a maid to rock it,
Virgin of the air to nurse it -
That a new moon might grow up
And a new sun start to brighten.

83 On the very hem of heaven,
On a cloud the virgin rocked it,
Rocked the fire and swung the light,
Swung it in a golden cradle,
Swaying it on straps of silver, so

89 So the silver straps were swaying,
And the golden cradle creaking;
Clouds were scudding, sky was screaming,
As the lid of heaven tilted
With the rocking of the fire,
With the swinging of the light.

95 Thus the virgin rocked the fire,
Rocked the fire and swung the light,
Nursed the fire-spark with her fingers,
Sheltered it between her hands; 90
But the stupid maiden dropped it,
Slipping through her careless fingers,
From the hands that should have nursed it,
Fingers that were meant to save it.

103 Then the sky was pierced with holes
And the heavens full of windows.3
Dropped the spark, red ember fell
Through the many-windowed sky,
Slipping swiftly through the clouds,
Through the nine celestial spheres, 100
Through six varicolored domes.

111 Said old Vainamoinen then:
"Come on, brother Ilmarinen,
Let's go out to look and learn
What kind of fire that fire might be,
That weird flame, the light that fell
From the highest of the heavens
Down to earth-let's now discover
If it was the rounded moon
Or the missing disc of day." 110

121 As the two of them set out
They were wondering how to get there,
How to find the very spot
Where that ember might have landed,
Where that bit of brightness fell.

127 Now a river flows before them
Almost as big as any sea.
And at once old Vainamoinen
Set to work to build a vessel,
Banged away there in the backwoods, 120
While the smith made oars and rudder,
Firwood rudder, oars of pine.

135 Soon the boat was fit for launching,
Ready with its oars and oarlocks.
When the boat was on the water,
Then they rowed out here and there,
Up and down the Neva river
Till they rounded the cape of Neva.

141 Ilmatar, the lovely virgin,4
Oldest of creation's daughters, 130
Suddenly appears and asks them:
"Kindly say what men you are;
By what names do they call you?"

147 Said Vainamoinen: "We are seamen;
I am old man Vainamoinen,
The other, craftsman Ilmarinen.
Now inform us of your lineage;
By what name do they call you?"

153 And the woman answered clearly:
"I'm the oldest of all women, 140
Oldest virgin of the air,
Primal mother of all humans
With the beauty of five women,
With the grace of six young brides.
Tell me, men, where are you going;
You must have some destination?"

161 Said Vainamoinen: "We are fireless
Since the light has been extinguished.
For a long time we've been fireless
And we've hidden in the darkness. 150
Now we have it in our minds
To go searching for the fire
Which has fallen out of heaven,
From above the clouds up there."

l7l And the woman made her answer:
"To discover it is toilsome,
To catch hold of it is dangerous.
Fire has played its tricks already,
Flame has spread its devastation.
Quickly slid the fiery ember, 160
Dropped the red ball out of heaven,
From the God-created arc of heaven -
Where great Ukko, he himself,
Struck it out in living fire -
Through the level firmament,
Through the wondrous atmosphere,
Slipping through a sooty smokehole
And along a dried-out ridgepole
On the new-built house of Tuuri,
Roofless house of the Worshipful. 170

187 "When it got there to that dwelling,
To the new-built home of Tuuri,
It began its brutal doings,
Started on its evil works:
Bruised the soft breasts of the daughters,
Nabbed the nipples of young maidens
And the boy's knees badly crippled,
And it burned the master's beard.

195 "Mother suckled her small infant
In a wretched little cradle, 180
After it had gotten to them,
There the fire did its worst:
Burned the baby in its cradle,
And it burned the mother's bosom.
Baby went to Manala,
To Tuonela the innocent,
Destined, foreordained to perish
In red agonies of fire,
In the anguish of the flames.

207 "But the mother, versed in magic, 190
Did not go to Manala;
She had spells against the fire
And she exorcised the flame
Through the fine eye of a needle,
Through the slotted eye of an axehead,
Down along a hot ice chipper,
Par away out on a meadow."

215 Here old Vainamoinen asked her:

"Where then did the fire go to,
Where indeed did the sparks fly 200
From the edge of Tuuri's meadow -
To the forest or the ocean?"

221 This the woman answered, saying:
"In its running, in its rolling,
It burned over vast expanses
Of the dry land, then the marshes;
Finally ran into the water,
Water of Lake Alue,
Almost set the lake to burning
In a fiery burst of sparks. 210

231 "Three times in a night of summer,
Nine times on a night of autumn
It boiled over its embankments,
Foaming level with the fir tops
In the hands of raging fire,
In its overwhelming power.

237 "Water foaming, boiling over,
Hurled the fish upon the shores,
Heaved the perch till they were grounded.
Fish were staring, perch all wondering 220
How to act now, how survive this.
Perch were crying for their larders,
Fish bemoaning their lost home yards
And a ruff its rocky grotto.

245 "Then a hardy perch, the crookneck,
Set out looking for the fire-spark,
Which it found but could not catch.
Then a bluish whitefish caught it,
Snapped it up and gulped it quickly.

251 "Now already the lake water, 230
Draining down from off the land,
Reached its ordinary level
In one single night of summer.

255 "Soon the fish that gulped the fire
Felt a fiery ache within it;
The devourer full of anguish,
Torment in the one who ate it.

259 "Then there was a swimming swamming;5
Swam a day and swam another,
Swam around the whitefish islets, 240
Salmon grounds, a thousand capeheads,
Inlets of a hundred islands.
Every capehead gave advice,
Every island gave its counsel:
There is no one in these waters,
Troubled waters of Lake Alue,
To devour the wretched swallower,
Swallow down that suffering creature
In the awful throes of burning,
By those fiery torments wracked.' 250

273 "But a silver lake trout heard this
And devoured the bluish whitefish.
Soon the swallower of the whitefish
Felt a fiery ache within it;
The devourer full of anguish,
Torment in the one who ate it.

279 "Then there was a swimming swamming
As it swam off, one day, two days
To the coves of salmon islets
And wide acres of the pike, 260
Around a thousand jutting capeheads,
Inlets of a hundred islands.
Every capehead gave advice,
Every island gave its counsel:
'There is no one in these waters,
Troubled waters of Lake Alue,
To devour the wretched fish,
Swallow down that suffering creature
In the awful throes of burning,
By those fiery torments wracked.' 270

293 "But a gray-green pike now heard this
And devoured the silver lake trout.
Soon the swallower of the lake trout
Felt a fiery ache within it;
The devourer full of anguish,
Torment in the one who ate it.

299 "Then there was a swimming swamming
As it swam off, one day, two days;
Swam among the seagull skerries,
Sea mew cliffs, a thousand capeheads, 280
Inlets of a hundred islands.
Every capehead gave advice,
Every island gave its counsel:
'There is no one in these waters,
Troubled waters of Lake Alue,
To devour the wretched fish,
Swallow down that suffering creature
In the awful throes of burning,
By those fiery torments wracked.'

313 Then the staunch old Vainamoinen, 290
With the aid of Ilmarinen,
Weaves a seine of basty fiber
Which they strip from junipers;
Dyed it then in willow juices
With the bark of the great sallow.

319 Vainamoinen called the women,
Took them on to do the seining.
Women come to do the seining,
Sisters come to do the dragging,
Rowing, gliding here and there, 300
Cape to cape and isle to isle,
Salmon skerries, whitefish islands,
Through the russet water grasses
And the beds of graceful rushes.

329 They are trying, fishing, dragging,
Swished the net about so wildly
That they cast it upside down,
Drag it in a wrong direction.
But they did not catch the fish,
The firefish they sorely sought for. 310

335 Then the comrades went themselves,
Went themselves to do the seining.
They too swish and splash about,
Drag the seine between the skerries,
Pull it through the narrow bay mouths
And through Kaleva's great reef rocks.
But they do not catch the fish,
The firefish they so sorely wanted,
For the gray-green pike was absent,
Did not come from smooth bay waters 320
Nor the wide expanse of ocean-
Fish are small, the net mesh wide.

347 Now the fish began complaining:
Pike to pike and ice to whitefish,
Salmon to another salmon:
"Are the great men dead already,
Have the Kaleva lads all vanished,
Flax-net casters, rope-net makers,
Experts of the threshing pole,
Handlers of the monstrous long ones?" 330

357 Hearing this, old Vainamoinen
Gave his answer to them promptly:
"No, the great men are not dead
Nor the Kalevalanders vanished.
One may die, but two are born
Who have threshing poles much better
With their shafts a good span longer -
And their nets are twice as monstrous."

Next...

Use of the text for commercial purpose is forbidden

Table of contents