The selected poems of Kalevala


Runo 5


So the word had been delivered
And the news was known abroad
How the young maid fell asleep,
How the beautiful had vanished.

5 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Was afflicted by the tidings:
Wept at evening, wept at morning,
Nightly was his woe most grievous
For the fate of his own fair one,
For the maiden who was sleeping 10
Underneath the restless rollers,
Down beneath the seawaves deep.

13 Sighing, grieving in his sorrow,
With a sinking heart he wandered,
Wandered to the blue-sea shore,
Spoke to Untamo, the dreamer:
"Tell me now what you have dreamed
Lying stretched out on the ground:
Where now is the realm of Ahto
Where play the maids of Vellamo?" 20

21 Untamo then told his dream
Seen while stretched out on the ground:
Yonder is the realm of Ahto
Where play the maids of Vellamo,
On that misty point of land
At the head of Foggy Island,
Underneath the seawaves deep
On the black ooze at the bottom.

29 "There the realm of Ahto is
Where dwell the maids of Vellamo, 30
Playing in a little grotto
In a narrow little chamber,
In the hollow of a writrock
In the shelter of a boulder."

35 Then the staunch old Vainamoinen
Went to where his boat was moored.
There inspected all his lines
And examined all his hooks;
Put a hook into his pocket,
Barb of iron in his backpack. 40
Thereupon he paddles out
To the tip-end of an island,
To that misty point of land
At the head of Foggy Island.

45 There he started on his fishing,
Carefully casting out his line
And dipping with his small-eyed hand net.
Sank the gorge' into the sea.
There he netted and he angled
Till his copper fish rod quivered 50
As his silver line went zinging
And the golden cord vibrating.

53 After several days of fishing,
After many a catchless morning,
He got a bite, and there it was!
A salmon-trout upon the hook.
He pulled it up into the boat
And dropped it on the bottom boards.

59 Turned it over, looked it over
As he made this observation: 60
"That fish for sure is like a fish
Though I do not recognize it!
It's too smooth to be a whitefish,
It is lighter than a lake trout,
Paler than a pike should be,
Rather finless for a roe-fish;
It's too odd to be a human,
Without a headband it's no maiden
And unbelted ifs no naiad,
Earless it's no little chicken. 70
It looks mostly like a salmon
Or perhaps a deep-sea perch."

73 On his belt he wore a knife
In its scabbard silver-hilted.
From his side he drew the knife,
From its sheath the silver-hafted
To dismember his first catch
And prepare the salmon slices
For his breakfast, morning snacks,
Salmon dinners and big suppers. 80

83 He began to cut the salmon,
Slice the fish up with his knife.
Suddenly the beauty sprang
And it flipped into the sea
From the bottom of the red boat,
From the boat of Vainamoinen.

89 And from there it raised its head
And a smooth right shoulder lifted
On the fifth gust of the wind
And upon the sixth high roller. 90
Then it raised a right hand up
And a left foot too appeared
On the seventh billow's back,
Riding on the ninth high roller.

97 Then it spoke up in clear words
And berated Vainamoinen:
"O you, you old Vainamoinen!
I did not intend to come here
To be sliced up for a salmon,
To serve myself as cuts of fish 100
For your breakfast, morning snacks,
Salmon dinners or big suppers."

107 Said old Vainamoinen meekly:
"Why then did you come at all?"

109 "I had come to be your chicken,
Sheltered underneath your armpit,
There to stay with you forever,
Always as your lifelong helpmate:
To make your bed and smooth your pillow,
Clean your cabin, sweep your floor, 110
Light your fires, bake your fat loaves,
Bake you even honey bread,
Serve you with great stoups of ale
And to set your meals before you.

123 "I was not a simple salmon,
Nor am I a deep-sea perch.
I was maid and virgin too,
Sister of young Joukahainen
Whom you hunted for so long
And desired all your lifetime. 120

129 "Oho you, you old duffer,
Hark, you stupid Vainamoinen:
You had not the sense to hold me,
Vellamo's young water maiden,
Ahto's favorite, little Aino."

134 Said old Vainamoinen meekly,
Head bowed down in deep dejection:
"Ah, it's Joukahainen's sister!
Do come back to me again!"

138 But she did not come back ever, 130
Never did she come again.
She receded, sank away,
Vanished from the ocean's surface,
Disappeared inside a writrock
Through a liver-colored crevice.

144 Old reliable Vainamoinen
Mulled the question in his mind:
How to live or how survive.
Then he wove a silken dragnet,
With it trawled the waters criss-cross, 140
Along the gulf, across the gulf;
Trawled around the quiet waters,
Grottoes of the salmon skerries,
Vaino's waters, Kaleva's causeways,
Dark abysses, wide expanses,
Joukahainen's river courses
And the shores of Lapland Bay.

158 He caught other fish aplenty,
Every kind that swims the waters,
But he did not get that fish, 150
Not the special fish he wanted-
Vellamo's own water maiden,
Ahto's favorite, little Aino.

164 Thereupon old Vainamoinen,
Head bowed down in deep dejection
And his high-peaked hat all crooked,
Well expressed his self-disgust:
"Oh, a madman in my madness,
Dimwit with my vaunted manhood!
Once I had some common sense, 160
Well-endowed with powers of thinking,
Gifted with a good heart also-
But that was once upon a time;
Now in evil days like these,
In this miserable generation,
My mind is only mediocre
And my thoughts completely worthless,
All my actions gone astray.

180 "Thus the one I always wanted
And awaited half a lifetime -170
Vellamo's young water maiden,
Last-bom of the water children-
To become my friend forever
And to be my lifelong helpmate,
Found her way on to my angle
And she landed in my boat.
I had not the sense to keep her,
Take her home upon my sleigh,
But I let her slip away,
Slip away beneath a billow, 180
Underneath the seawaves deep."

192 Sadly then he started homeward,
Grieving, sighing on his way,
While he spoke his sorrows thus:
"When my erstwhile cuckoos cried,
Joybirds of the olden time,
They cried joy, joy in the morning,
Joy at midday, joy at sunset!
What now stills the joyous rapture,
That great voice so beautiful? 190
Sorrow stills the clear-voiced greeter,
Grief subdues the loving rapture.
Now the evening song is still,
And the cuckoo calls no more
For my evening's deep delight
Nor the promise of the morrow.

208 "Now I do not even know
How to live or how survive,
How to live upon this earth
Or to travel in these lands. 200
Were my mother living now,
My dear mother still awake,
She could surely counsel me
How to hold myself erect
Undefeated by bereavement
And uncrushed now by my cares
In these days of bad misfortune
And this mood of melancholy."

220 From the deeps she understood him,3
From beneath the waves she answered: 210
"Still your mother is alive,
Your loving mother quite awake,
Who can surely counsel you
How to hold yourself erect
Undefeated by bereavement
And uncrushed now by your cares
In these days of bad misfortune
And this mood of melancholy.
Go up for the Northland daughters:
There the girls are really stunning, 220
Damsels twice as beautiful,
Five times, six times livelier-
Not like Jouko's idle gossips
Nor the hoydens out of Lapland.

236 "Wed yourself a wife, dear son,
From the best of northern daughters,
One whose features are well-formed
And who's beautiful to look at.
Get a girl who's quick of movement,
Always ready on her feet." 230


Use of the text for commercial purpose is forbidden

Table of contents