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The Kalevala - Rune Xvi - Poem by Elias Lönnrot


Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
The eternal wisdom-singer,
For his boat was working lumber,
Working long upon his vessel,
On a fog-point jutting seaward,
On an island, forest-covered;
But the lumber failed the master,
Beams were wanting for his vessel,
Beams and scantling, ribs and flooring.
Who will find for him the lumber,
Who procure the timber needed
For the boat of Wainamoinen,
For the bottom of his vessel?
Pellerwoinen of the prairies,
Sampsa, slender-grown and ancient,
He will seek the needful timber,
He procure the beams of oak-wood
For the boat of Wainamoinen,
For the bottom of his vessel.
Soon he starts upon his journey
To the eastern fields and forests,
Hunts throughout the Northland mountain
To a second mountain wanders,
To a third he hastens, searching,
Golden axe upon his shoulder,
In his hand a copper hatchet.
Comes an aspen-tree to meet him
Of the height of seven fathoms.
Sampsa takes his axe of copper,
Starts to fell the stately aspen,
But the aspen quickly halting,
Speaks these words to Pellerwoinen:
'Tell me, hero, what thou wishest,
What the service thou art needing?'
Sampsa Pellerwoinen answers:
'This indeed, the needed service
That I ask of thee, O aspen:
Need thy lumber for a vessel,
For the boat of Wainamoinen,
Wisest of the wisdom-singers.'
Quick and wisely speaks the aspen,
Thus its hundred branches answer:
'All the boats that have been fashioned
From my wood have proved but failures;
Such a vessel floats a distance,
Then it sinks upon the bottom
Of the waters it should travel.
All my trunk is filled with hollows,
Three times in the summer seasons
Worms devour my stem and branches,
Feed upon my heart and tissues.'
Pellerwoinen leaves the aspen,
Hunts again through all the forest,
Wanders through the woods of Northland,
Where a pine-tree comes to meet him,
Of the height of fourteen fathoms.
With his axe he chops the pine-tree,
Strikes it with his axe of copper,
As he asks the pine this question:
'Will thy trunk give worthy timber
For the boat of Wainamoinen,
Wisest of the wisdom-singers?'
Loudly does the pine-tree answer:
'All the ships that have been fashioned
From my body are unworthy;
I am full of imperfections,
Cannot give thee needed timber
Wherewithal to build thy vessel;
Ravens live within ray branches,
Build their nests and hatch their younglings
Three times in my trunk in summer.'
Sampsa leaves the lofty pine-tree,
Wanders onward, onward, onward,
To the woods of gladsome summer,
Where an oak-tree comes to meet him,
In circumference, three fathoms,
And the oak he thus addresses:
'Ancient oak-tree, will thy body
Furnish wood to build a vessel,
Build a boat for Wainamoinen,
Master-boat for the magician,
Wisest of the wisdom-singers?'
Thus the oak replies to Sampsa:
'I for thee will gladly furnish
Wood to build the hero's vessel;
I am tall, and sound, and hardy,
Have no flaws within my body;
Three times in the months of summer,
In the warmest of the seasons,
Does the sun dwell in my tree-top,
On my trunk the moonlight glimmers,
In my branches sings the cuckoo,
In my top her nestlings slumber.'
Now the ancient Pellerwoinen
Takes the hatchet from his shoulder,
Takes his axe with copper handle,
Chops the body of the oak-tree;
Well he knows the art of chopping.
Soon he fells the tree majestic,
Fells the mighty forest-monarch,
With his magic axe and power.
From the stems he lops the branches,
Splits the trunk in many pieces,
Fashions lumber for the bottom,
Countless boards, and ribs, and braces,
For the singer's magic vessel,
For the boat of the magician.
Wainamoinen, old and skilful,
The eternal wonder-worker,
Builds his vessel with enchantment,
Builds his boat by art of magic,
From the timber of the oak-tree,
From its posts, and planks, and flooring.
Sings a song, and joins the frame-work;
Sings a second, sets the siding;
Sings a third time, sets the row-locks;
Fashions oars, and ribs, and rudder,
Joins the sides and ribs together.
When the ribs were firmly fastened,
When the sides were tightly jointed,
Then alas! three words were wanting,
Lost the words of master-magic,
How to fasten in the ledges,
How the stern should be completed,
How complete the boat's forecastle.
Then the ancient Wainamoinen,
Wise and wonderful enchanter,
Heavy-hearted spake as follows:
'Woe is me, my life hard-fated!
Never will this magic vessel
Pass in safety o'er the water,
Never ride the rough sea-billows.'
Then he thought and long considered,
Where to find these words of magic,
Find the lost-words of the Master:
'From the brains of countless swallows,
From the heads of swans in dying,
From the plumage of the gray-duck?'
For these words the hero searches,
Kills of swans a goodly number,
Kills a flock of fattened gray-duck,
Kills of swallows countless numbers,
Cannot find the words of magic,
Not the lost-words of the Master.
Wainamoinen, wisdom-singer,
Still reflected and debated:
'I perchance may find the lost-words
On the tongue of summer-reindeer,
In the mouth of the white squirrel.'
Now again he hunts the lost-words,
Hastes to find the magic sayings,
Kills a countless host of reindeer,
Kills a rafterful of squirrels,
Finds of words a goodly number,
But they are of little value,
Cannot find the magic lost-word.
Long he thought and well considered:
'I can find of words a hundred
In the dwellings of Tuoni,
In the Manala fields and castles.'
Wainamoinen quickly journeys
To the kingdom of Tuoni,
There to find the ancient wisdom,
There to learn the secret doctrine;
Hastens on through fen and forest,
Over meads and over marshes,
Through the ever-rising woodlands,
Journeys one week through the brambles,
And a second through the hazels,
Through the junipers the third week,
When appear Tuoni's islands,
And the Manala fields and castles.
Wainamoinen, brave and ancient,
Calls aloud in tones of thunder,
To the Tuonela deeps and dungeons,
And to Manala's magic castle:
'Bring a boat, Tuoni's daughter,
Bring a ferry-boat, O maiden,
That may bear me o'er this channel,
O'er this black and fatal river.'
Quick the daughter of Tuoni,
Magic maid of little stature,
Tiny virgin of Manala,
Tiny washer of the linen,
Tiny cleaner of the dresses,
At the river of Tuoni,
In Manala's ancient castles,
Speaks these words to Wainamoinen,
Gives this answer to his calling:
'Straightway will I bring the row-boat,
When the reasons thou hast given
Why thou comest to Manala
In a hale and active body.'
Wainamoinen, old and artful.,
Gives this answer to the maiden:
'I was brought here by Tuoni,
Mana raised me from the coffin.'
Speaks the maiden of Manala:
'This a tale of wretched liars;
Had Tuoni brought thee hither,
Mana raised thee from the coffin,
Then Tuoni would be with thee,
Manalainen too would lead thee,
With Tuoni's hat upon thee,
On thy hands, the gloves of Mana;
Tell the truth now, Wainamoinen,
What has brought thee to Manala?'
Wainamoinen, artful hero,
Gives this answer, still finessing:
'Iron brought me to Manala,
To the kingdom of Tuoni.'
Speaks the virgin of the death-land,
Mana's wise and tiny daughter:
'Well I know that this is falsehood,
Had the iron brought thee hither,
Brought thee to Tuoni's kingdom,
Blood would trickle from thy vesture,
And the blood-drops, scarlet-colored.
Speak the truth now, Wainamoinen,
This the third time that I ask thee.'
Wainamoinen, little heeding,
Still finesses to the daughter:
'Water brought me to Manala,
To the kingdom of Tuoui.'
This the tiny maiden's answer:
'Well I know thou speakest falsely;
If the waters of Manala,
If the cataract and whirlpool,
Or the waves had brought thee hither,
From thy robes the drops would trickle,
Water drip from all thy raiment.
Tell the truth and I will serve thee,
What has brought thee to Manala?'
Then the wilful Wainamoinen
Told this falsehood to the maiden:
'Fire has brought me to Manala,
To the kingdom of Tuoni.'
Spake again Tuoni's daughter:
'Well I know the voice of falsehood.
If the fire had brought thee hither,
Brought thee to Tuoni's empire,
Singed would be thy locks and eyebrows,
And thy beard be crisped and tangled.
O, thou foolish Wainamoinen,
If I row thee o'er the ferry,
Thou must speak the truth in answer,
This the last time I will ask thee;
Make an end of thy deception.
What has brought thee to Manala,
Still unharmed by pain or sickness,
Still untouched by Death's dark angel
Spake the ancient Wainamoinen:
'At the first I spake, not truly,
Now I give thee rightful answer:
I a boat with ancient wisdom,
Fashioned with my powers of magic,
Sang one day and then a second,
Sang the third day until evening,
When I broke the magic main-spring,
Broke my magic sledge in pieces,
Of my song the fleetest runners;
Then I come to Mana's kingdom,
Came to borrow here a hatchet,
Thus to mend my sledge of magic,
Thus to join the parts together.
Send the boat now quickly over,
Send me, quick, Tuoni's row-boat,
Help me cross this fatal river,
Cross the channel of Manala.'
Spake the daughter of Tuoni,
Mana's maiden thus replying:
'Thou art sure a stupid fellow,
Foresight wanting, judgment lacking,
Having neither wit nor wisdom,
Coming here without a reason,
Coming to Tuoni's empire;
Better far if thou shouldst journey
To thy distant home and kindred;
Man they that visit Mana,
Few return from Maria's kingdom.'
Spake the good old Wainamoinen:
'Women old retreat from danger,
Not a man of any courage,
Not the weakest of the heroes.
Bring thy boat, Tuoni's daughter,
Tiny maiden of Manala,
Come and row me o'er the ferry.'
Mana's daughter does as bidden,
Brings her boat to Wainamoinen,
Quickly rows him through the channel,
O'er the black and fatal river,
To the kingdom of Manala,
Speaks these words to the magician:
'Woe to thee! O Wainamoinen!
Wonderful indeed, thy magic,
Since thou comest to Manala,
Comest neither dead nor dying.'
Tuonetar, the death-land hostess,
Ancient hostess of Tuoni,
Brings him pitchers filled with strong-beer,
Fills her massive golden goblets,
Speaks these measures to the stranger:
'Drink, thou ancient Wainamoinen,
Drink the beer of king Tuoni!'
Wainamoinen, wise and cautious,
Carefully inspects the liquor,
Looks a long time in the pitchers,
Sees the spawning of the black-frogs,
Sees the young of poison-serpents,
Lizards, worms, and writhing adders,
Thus addresses Tuonetar:
'Have not come with this intention,
Have not come to drink thy poisons,
Drink the beer of Tuonela;
Those that drink Tuoni's liquors,
Those that sip the cups of Mana,
Court the Devil and destruction,
End their lives in want and ruin.'
Tuonetar makes this answer:
'Ancient minstrel, Wainamoinen,
Tell me what has brought thee hither,
Brought thee to the, realm of Mana,
To the courts of Tuonela,
Ere Tuoni sent his angels
To thy home in Kalevala,
There to cut thy magic life-thread.'
Spake the singer, Wainamoinen:
'I was building me a vessel,
At my craft was working, singing,
Needed three words of the Master,
How to fasten in the ledges,
How the stern should be completed,
How complete the boat's forecastle.
This the reason of my coming
To the empire of Tuoni,
To the castles of Manala:
Came to learn these magic sayings,
Learn the lost-words of the Master.'
Spake the hostess, Tuonetar:
'Mana never gives these sayings,
Canst not learn them from Tuoni,
Not the lost-words of the Master;
Thou shalt never leave this kingdom,
Never in thy magic life-time,
Never go to Kalevala,
To Wainola's peaceful meadows.
To thy distant home and country.'
Quick the hostess, Tuonetar,
Waves her magic wand of slumber
O'er the head of Wainamoinen,
Puts to rest the wisdom-hero,
Lays him on the couch of Mana,
In the robes of living heroes,
Deep the sleep that settles o'er him.
In Manala lived a woman,
In the kingdom of Tuoni,
Evil witch and toothless wizard,
Spinner of the threads of iron,
Moulder of the bands of copper,
Weaver of a hundred fish-nets,
Of a thousand nets of copper,
Spinning in the days of summer,
Weaving in the winter evenings,
Seated on a rock in water.
In the kingdom of Tuoni
Lived a man, a wicked wizard,
Three the fingers of the hero,
Spinner he of iron meshes,
Maker too of nets of copper,
Countless were his nets of metal,
Moulded on a rock in water,
Through the many days of summer.
Mana's son with crooked fingers,
Iron-pointed, copper fingers,
Pulls of nets, at least a thousand,
Through the river of Tuoni,
Sets them lengthwise, sets them crosswise,
In the fatal, darksome river,
That the sleeping Wainamomen,
Friend and brother of the waters,
May not leave the isle of Mana,
Never in the course of ages,
Never leave the death-land castles,
Never while the moonlight glimmers
On the empire of Tuoni.
Wainamoinen, wise and wary,
Rising from his couch of slumber,
Speaks these words as he is waking:
'Is there not some mischief brewing,
Am I not at last in danger,
In the chambers of Tuoni,
In the Manala home and household?'
Quick he changes his complexion,
Changes too his form and feature,
Slips into another body;
Like a serpent in a circle,
Rolls black-dyed upon the waters;
Like a snake among the willows,
Crawls he like a worm of magic,
Like an adder through the grasses,
Through the coal-black stream of death-land,
Through a thousand nets of copper
Interlaced with threads of iron,
From the kingdom of Tuoni,
From the castles of Manala.
Mana's son, the wicked wizard,
With his iron-pointed fingers,
In the early morning hastens
To his thousand nets of copper,
Set within the Tuoni river,
Finds therein a countless number
Of the death-stream fish and serpents;
Does not find old Wainamoinen,
Wainamoinen, wise and wary,
Friend and fellow of the waters.
When the wonder-working hero
Had escaped from Tuonela,
Spake he thus in supplication:
'Gratitude to thee, O Ukko,
Do I bring for thy protection!
Never suffer other heroes,
Of thy heroes not the wisest,
To transgress the laws of nature;
Never let another singer,
While he lives within the body,
Cross the river of Tuoni,
As thou lovest thy creations.
Many heroes cross the channel,
Cross the fatal stream of Mana,
Few return to tell the story,
Few return from Tuonela,
From Manala's courts and castles.'
Wainamoinen calls his people,
On the plains of Kalevala,
Speaks these words of ancient wisdom,
To the young men, to the maidens,
To the rising generation:
'Every child of Northland, listen:
If thou wishest joy eternal,
Never disobey thy parents,
Never evil treat the guiltless,
Never wrong the feeble-minded,
Never harm thy weakest fellow,
Never stain thy lips with falsehood,
Never cheat thy trusting neighbor,
Never injure thy companion,
Lest thou surely payest penance
In the kingdom of Tuoni,
In the prison of Manala;
There, the home of all the wicked,
There the couch of the unworthy,
There the chambers of the guilty.
Underneath Manala's fire-rock
Are their ever-flaming couches,
For their pillows hissing serpents,
Vipers green their writhing covers,
For their drink the blood of adders,
For their food the pangs of hunger,
Pain and agony their solace;
If thou wishest joy eternal,
Shun the kingdom of Tuoui!'

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