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The Kalevala - NORWEGIAN 2 fl SEA 00 yogi(ll h o BARENTS...

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Unformatted text preview: NORWEGIAN 2:? fl SEA 00 yogi/(ll? ' h o [- BARENTS SEA Shading indicates the main areas where Elias Lonnrot and his contemporaries collected Kalevala poetry. 0 200 400 600 km r—wI—l . 400 miles 200 OXFORD WORLD’S CLASSICS The Kalevahz ' AN EPIC POEM AFTER ORAL TRADITION BY ELIAS LONNROT Translated flom the Finnish with m Introduction and Notes by KEITH BOSLEY and (1 Foreword by ALBERT B. LORD OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS lvi SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY In Finnish Kalevala (Helsinki, always in print). The school edition of the Finnish Literature Society (Suomalaisen Kiriallisuuden Seura, SKS) gives the plain text with Lonnrot’s 1849 preface. There are many other editions, some illustrated. Vaino Kaukonen (ed), Elias Lb'nnrotin Kalevalan Toinen Painos [‘The Second Edition of Elias Lonnrot’s Kalevala’] (Helsinki, 1956, still in print). With an introduction, a history of the text, a commentary that includes background on Lonnrot’s predecessors and contemporaries, and Ahl- qvist’s concordance. Aimo Turunen, Kalevalan Sana: ja niiden taustal [‘The Words of the Kalevala and their background’] (Lappeenranta, 1979). The standard work on the epic’s vocabulary. Toivo Vuorela, Kansanperinteen Sanakirja [‘Dictionary of the Folk Tradition’] (Helsinki, 1979). Matti Kuusi and Pertti Anttonen, Kalevala—Lipas [‘The Kale— vala Box’] (Helsinki, 1985). A popular survey, full of useful and curious information. I. In the Beginning I have a good mind take into my head to start off singing begin reciting reeling off a tale of kin and singing a tale of kind. The words unfreeze in my mouth and the phrases are tumbling upon my tongue they scramble along my teeth they scatter. Brother dear, little brother fair one who grew up with me start off now singing with me begin reciting with me since we have got together smce we have come from two ways! We seldom get together and meet each other on these poor borders the luckless lands of the North. Let’s strike hand to hand* fingers into finger-gaps that we may sing some good things set some of the best things forth for those darling ones to hear for those with a mind to know among the youngsters rising among the people growing—— those words we have got tales we have kindled from old Vainamoinen’s belt up from Ilmarinen’s forge from the tip of Farmind’s brand I.‘ 34~IO 5 from the path of Joukahainen’s bow from the North’s furthest fields, from the heaths of Kalevala.* My father used to sing them as he cut an axe handle; my mother taught them turning her distaff and I a child on the floor fidgeting before her knee a milk-bearded scamp a curd-mouthed toddler. The Sampo did not lack words nor did Louhi spells: the Sampo grew old with words and Louhi was lost with spells and with tales Vipunen died and Lemminkainen with games. There are yet other words too and mysteries learned— snatched from the roadside plucked from the heather torn from the brushwood tugged from the saplings rubbed from a grass—head ripped from a footpath as I went herding as a child in the pastures on the honey-sweet hummocks on the golden knolls following black Buttercup beside Bouncy the brindled. The cold told a tale to me the rain suggested poems:* another tale the winds brought the sea’s* billows drove; the birds added words the treetops phrases. IN THE BEGINNING I wound them into a ball and arranged them in a coil slipped the ball into my sled and the coil into my sledge; I took it home in the sled in the sledge towards the kiln* put it up in the shed loft* in a little copper box. Long my tale’s been in the cold for ages has lain hidden: shall I take the tales out of the cold scoop the songs out of the frost bring my little box indoors the casket to the seat end under the famous roof beam under the fair roof shall I open the word-chest and unlock the box of tales unwind the top of the ball untie the knot of the coil? I will sing quite a good tale quite a fair one I’ll beat out after some rye bread and some barley beer. If beer is not brought and ale not offered I’ll sing from a leaner mouth after water I will hit to cheer this evening of ours to honour the famous day or to amuse the morrow and to start the new morning. * * * I heard it recited thus I knew how the tale was made: With us the nights come alone 1306-1 78 the days dawn alone, so was Vainamoinen born alone the eternal bard appeared from the woman who bore him from Air—daughter his mother. There was a lass, an air-girl a nice nature-daughter:* she long remained holy for ever girlish in the air’s long yards on its level grounds. Her times grew weary and her life felt strange from being always alone living as a lass in the air’s long yards in the empty wastes. So now she steps further down launched herself upon the waves on the clear high seas upon the open expanse. There came a great gust of wind from the east nasty weather lashed the sea to foam whipped it into waves. The wind lulled the maid and the billow drove the lass about the blue main and the froth-capped waves; and the wind blew her womb full the sea makes her fat. She bore a hard womb a difficult bellyful seven hundred years nine ages of man; but no birth was born IN THE BEGINNING no creature was created. The lass rolled as the water—mother: she swims east, swims west swims north—west and south swims all the Skylines in fiery birth-pangs in hard belly—woes; but no birth was born no creature was created. She weeps and whimpers; she uttered a word, spoke thus: ‘Woe, luckless me, for my days poor child, for my way of life: now I have come to something— for ever under the sky by the wind to be lulled, by billows driven on these wide waters upon these vast waves! Better ’twould have been to live as lass of the air than just now to toss about as water—mother: it is chilly for me to be here woeful for me to shiver in billows for me to dwell in the water to wallow. 0 Old Man, chief god upholder of all the sky come here when you are needed come this way when you are called: free a wench from a tight spot a woman from belly—throes; come quickly, arrive promptly most promptly where the need is!’ A little time passed a moment sped by. 1:179—249 Came a scaup, straightforward bird and it flaps about in search of a nesting-place working out somewhere to live. It flew east, flew west flew north-west and south but it finds no room not even the worst spot where it might build its nest take up residence. It glides, it hovers it thinks, considers: ‘Shall I build my cabin on the wind my dwelling on the billows? The wind will fell the cabin the billow will bear off my dwelling.’ So then the water-mother the water-mother, air—lass raised her knee out of the sea her shoulderblade from the wave for the scaup a nesting—place sweet land to live on. That scaup, pretty bird glides and hovers; it spied the water-mother’s knee on the bluish main; thought it was a grass hummock a clump of fresh sward. It flutters, it glides and it lands on the kneecap. There it builds its nest laid its golden eggs: six eggs were of gold an iron egg the seventh. It began to hatch the eggs to warm the kneecap: IN THE BEGINNING it hatched one day, it hatched two soon it hatched a third as well. At that the water-mother the water—mother, air-lass feels that she is catching fire that her skin is smouldering; she thought her knee was ablaze all her sinews were melting. And she jerked her knee and she shook her limbs: the eggs rolled in the water sink into the sea’s billow; the eggs smashed to bits broke into pieces. The eggs don’t fall in the mud the fragments in the water. The bits changed into good things the pieces into fair things: an egg’s lower half became mother earth below an egg’s upper half became heaven above; the upper half that was yolk became the sun for shining the upper half that was white became the moon for gleaming; what in an egg was mottled became the stars in the sky what in an egg was blackish became the clouds of the air. The ages go on the years beyond that as the new sun shines as the new moon gleams. Still the water-mother swims 1:2 50—322 the water-mother, air—lass on those mild waters on the misty waves before her the slack water and behind her the clear sky. Now in the ninth year in the tenth summer she raised her head from the sea she lifts up her poll: she began her creation forming her creatures on the clear high seas upon the open expanse. Where she turned her hand around there she arranged the headlands; where her foot touched the bottom there she dug out the fish troughs; where else she bubbled there she hollowed out the depths. She turned her side to the land: there she brought forth the smooth shores; she turned her feet to the land: there she formed the salmon haunts; with her head she reached the land: there she shaped the bays. Then she swam further from land paused upon the main; formed the crags in the water grew the hidden reefs to be places for shipwreck the dispatch of sailors’ heads. Now the islands were arranged and the crags formed in the sea the sky’s pillars set upright the lands and mainlands called up patterns* cut upon the rocks IN THE BEGINNING lines drawn on the cliffs; but still Vainamoinen was not born nor fledged the eternal bard. Steady old Vainamoinen went round in his mother’s womb for thirty summers and as many winters too on those mild waters on the misty waves. He thinks, considers how to be, which way to live ‘ in his dark hideout in his narrow dwelling where he has never seen the moon nor beheld the sun. He says with this word ‘ he spoke with this speech: Moon, unloose, and sun, set free and Great Bear,* still guide a man out from the strange doors from the foreign gates from these little nests and narrow dwellings! Bring the traveller to land man’s child into the open to look at the moon in heaven to admire the sun observe the Great Bear and study the stars!’ When the moon did not loose him nor did the sun set him free all his times felt strange his life felt irksome: he shifted the stronghold* gate with his ring finger slid the lock of bone with his left toe, came 10 1323—232 with his nails from the threshold with his knees from the doorway. Then he tripped head first seaward hands first he tumbled waveward; the man stays in the sea’s care the fellow in the billows. He lolled there five years both five years and six seven years and eight. He stood on the main at last on a headland with no name on a mainland with no trees. With his knees he tensed upward with his arms pulled himself round: he rose to look at the moon to admire the sun observe the Great Bear and study the stars. That was Vainamoinen’s birth how the bold bard came to be from the woman who bore him from Air—daughter his mother. 2. Felling and Sowing At that Vainamoinen rose planted both feet on the heath on the island on the main on the mainland with no trees. He lingered there many years continued living on the island with no words on the mainland with no trees. He thinks, considers and long he ponders: who is to sow lands and make crops fruitful? Pellervoinen, the field’s son Sampsa,* tiny boy— he is to sow lands and make crops fruitful! He got down to sowing lands he sowed lands, sowed swamps he sowed sandy glades he has boulders set. Hills he sowed for pines sowed mounds for spruces and heaths for heather and hollows for young saplings. On lowlands he sowed birches alders in light soils sowed bird cherries in new soils and goat willows in fresh soils and rowans on holy ground and willows on rising ground junipers on barren lands and oaks on the banks of streams. 666 50600-620 phrases from further away. Others were all schooled; I could not be spared from home helping my matchless mother fussing round the lonely one: I had to be schooled at home underneath my own shed beam at my own mother’s distaffs on my brother’s wood shavings and I was small too, tiny a scamp in a ragged shirt. Be that as it may I’ve skied a trail for singers skied a trail, snapped a treetop lopped off boughs and shown the way: that is where the way goes now where a new track leads for more versatile singers more abundant bards among the youngsters rising among the people growing. . NOTES 1:21 Let’s strike hand to hand: the traditional gesture when two men sat down to sing. See the Introduction, which these Notes supplement. English words not in the COD are glossed. 1:36 Kalevala: primarily a place name meaning (according to Lonnrot) the abode of Kaleva, an obscure gigantic ances— tor like Greek Titans. Lacking articles, Finnish makes no distinction between the place name and the title of the epic; the English article before the latter is conventional. The ending -1a (or —liz', according to vowel harmony) is a ‘locality formative’. Tapiola is the abode of Tapio, lord of the forests, Tuonela that of Tuoni, lord of the dead; Sibelius named his house Ainola after his wife Aino (named after the girl in canto 4); kahvila is a café, from kahvi ‘coffee’. The present translation renders —la/—liz' ‘-land’ (e.g. Vz‘z‘infilc'i ‘Vaino-land’, 3:3), except for Kale- vala itself, and Tapiola and Tuonela which, thanks to Sibelius, are already familiar. 1:66 poems: runoja. Runo is of old Germanic origin, and cognate with English ‘rune’, but they are not equivalent: a rune is a letter or inscription (not necessarily a poem), whereas 3 mm in the Kalevala tradition can only be oral, referring to both poem (as here) and bard (e.g. 12:456). Lonnrot also uses the word for the fifty sections of the epic, but the ‘poems’ do not correspond with the ‘old poems’ of his title, so the word is there rendered ‘canto’. Scholars often translate runo as ‘song’, but the usual word for song (laulu) is also used in the epic (e.g. 1:82). The bards themselves called an epic-style narrative poem virsi (modern Finnish ‘hymn’), which is rendered ‘tale’ (e.g. 1:5). 1:68 sea: the word clearly refers in the epic mainly to large lakes, ‘lake’ to smaller ones. 1:76 kiln: riihi, a building where grain is dried in mild heat and threshed. 668 NOTES 1:77 shed loft: memory. 1:112 nice nature-daughter: korea (modern Finnish ‘showy’) usually means ‘proudly handsome’, but here and in canto 5o describing Marjatta it has sexual overtones. ‘Nature— daughter’ is luonnotar, formed of luonto ‘nature, created world’ plus the feminine suffix —tar/-tiir; cf. Kanteletar, ‘female spirit, muse, of the kantele’, and tarjoilija, ‘waiter’, tarjoilijatar, ‘waitress’. 1:285 patterns: kirja and related words refer to patterns both natural and man—made, often with a magical significance. (In modern Finnish kirja and kirjoittaa mean ‘book’ and ‘to write’, but the old meaning survives in kirjaoa, ‘many— coloured, mottled, speckled, brindled’.) As the first element of compounds, kirja- or kirjo- has usually been rendered ‘bright’. 1:304 Great Bear: the constellation Ursa major, alias the Plough, alias Charles’s Wain. For the cult of the Great Bear see note to 46:13. 1:319 stronghold: used here metaphorically, linna (modern Finnish ‘castle’, colloquially ‘jail’) is equivalent to Anglo- Saxon burh, but ‘borough’ or ‘burgh’ is too elaborate for the epic, where the word usually refers to no more than a secure dwelling. 2:14 - Sampsa: Sampsa Pellervoinen, an agriculture spirit whose first name is probably derived from Samson on account of his strength (see note to 11:311 below), his second from pelto, cognate with, and meaning, ‘field’. 22255—6 clearing . . . fire: slash-and-burn (or burn-beat) agri- culture, in which the ashes are ploughed in as fertilizer. 2:372 tin—breast: used here metaphorically, tinartnta refers to an unmarried girl wearing trinkets of semi-precious metal. 3:45 sang: bewitched. The verb often connotes magic. When its object is a person it is sometimes rendered ‘sing at’ (e. g. 3:57); when the object is a thing, this is being called into existence, as in 302 ff. and 27:221 ff. 3:86 wise man: tietdjd, literally ‘knower’ of secret lore, i.e. magician, wizard, shaman. In the Finnish Bible the word NOTES 669 is used for the ‘wise men’ from the east in the Christmas story. 3:179 Home: province of south—west Finland. 3:181 Vnoksi: river in south-east Finland flowing from the Saimaa lakes to Lake Ladoga in Russia. 3:182 Imatra: here the once spectacular rapids where the Vuokst runs off the granite table-land; now the site of a town, Finland’s largest paper mill and a hydroelectric power station. 3:403E4 with clear water . . . ramps: they are glossy and well ed. 3:471 er sits on the rock of joy: this and the following line mean little more than ‘he starts singing’. ‘Joy’ often means music in the epic, as here: the translation keeps the ambiguity, partly because there is another word for mUSic—though this in turn usually refers to an instru- ment, the kantele; see especially canto 4o. 3:536 brother—in—law: merely to parallel ‘son—in-law’ in the previous line. Such parallelisms are common—~cf. ‘fourth/ . . . fifth’ (4:307-8). 4:4 bath-whisks: the accepted but misleading English equiva- lent for leafy birch twigs used to stimulate sweat in the sauna. 4:25 cog'ware: ‘a coarse cloth, resembling-frieze, made of the poorest wool’ (OED, latest use 1483), presumably related to cog’, an early cargo boat. Rendering haahen halja— koista, literally ‘about vessel-jackets’, i.e. imported clothes. 4:38 farm: kartano (modern Finnish ‘manor’, cognate with English ‘garden’) is one of many more or less synony- mous words for a dwelling, choice depending more on alliteration than on size or status. 4:94 the Great One: referring to Vainamoinen. The original invokes him here in terms of illustrious but obscure ancestorSWOsmoinen . . . Kalevainen ‘the descendant of Osmo . . . of Kaleva’ (see note to 1:36). 4:334 untimely died: literally ‘died an excessive surma’, this being one of the two basic Finnish words for death. ...
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