Translated by John Martin Crawford
Mastered by desire impulsive, By a mighty inward urging, I am ready now for singing, Ready to begin the chanting Of our nation's ancient folk-song Handed down from by-gone ages. In my mouth the words are melting, From my lips the tones are gliding, From my tongue they wish to hasten; When my willing teeth are parted, When my ready mouth is opened, Songs of ancient wit and wisdom Hasten from me not unwilling.
Golden friend, and dearest brother, Brother dear of mine in childhood, Come and sing with me the stories, Come and chant with me the legends, Legends of the times forgotten, Since we now are here together, Come together from our roamings. Seldom do we come for singing, Seldom to the one, the other, O'er this cold and cruel country, O'er the poor soil of the Northland. Let us clasp our hands together That we thus may best remember. Join we now in merry singing, Chant we now the oldest folk-lore, That the dear ones all may hear them, That the well-inclined may hear them, Of this rising generation. These are words in childhood taught me, Songs preserved from distant ages, Legends they that once were taken From the belt of Wainamoinen, From the forge of Ilmarinen, From the sword of Kaukomieli, From the bow of Youkahainen, From the pastures of the Northland, From the meads of Kalevala. These my dear old father sang me When at work with knife and hatchet These my tender mother taught me When she twirled the flying spindle, When a child upon the matting By her feet I rolled and tumbled.
Incantations were not wanting Over Sampo and o'er Louhi, Sampo growing old in singing, Louhi ceasing her enchantment. In the songs died wise Wipunen, At the games died Lemminkainen. There are many other legends, Incantations that were taught me, That I found along the wayside, Gathered in the fragrant copses, Blown me from the forest branches, Culled among the plumes of pine-trees, Scented from the vines and flowers, Whispered to me as I followed Flocks in land of honeyed meadows, Over hillocks green and golden, After sable-haired Murikki, And the many-colored Kimmo. Many runes the cold has told me, Many lays the rain has brought me, Other songs the winds have sung me; Many birds from many forests, Oft have sung me lays in concord; Waves of sea, and ocean billows, Music from the many waters, Music from the whole creation, Oft have been my guide and master. Sentences the trees created, Rolled together into bundles, Moved them to my ancient dwelling, On the sledges to my cottage, Tied them to my garret rafters, Hung them on my dwelling-portals, Laid them in a chest of boxes, Boxes lined with shining copper. Long they lay within my dwelling Through the chilling winds of winter, In my dwelling-place for ages.
Shall I bring these songs together From the cold and frost collect them? Shall I bring this nest of boxes, Keepers of these golden legends, To the table in my cabin, Underneath the painted rafters, In this house renowned and ancient? Shall I now these boxes open, Boxes filled with wondrous stories? Shall I now the end unfasten Of this ball of ancient wisdom, These ancestral lays unravel? Let me sing an old-time legend, That shall echo forth the praises Of the beer that I have tasted, Of the sparkling beer of barley. Bring to me a foaming goblet Of the barley of my fathers, Lest my singing grow too weary, Singing from the water only. Bring me too a cup of strong-beer, It will add to our enchantment, To the pleasure of the evening, Northland's long and dreary evening, For the beauty of the day-dawn, For the pleasure of the morning, The beginning of the new-day.
Often I have heard them chanting, Often I have heard them singing, That the nights come to us singly, That the Moon beams on us singly, That the Sun shines on us singly; Singly also, Wainamoinen, The renowned and wise enchanter, Born from everlasting Ether Of his mother, Ether's daughter.
In primeval times, a maiden, Beauteous Daughter of the Ether, Passed for ages her existence In the great expanse of heaven, O'er the prairies yet enfolded. Wearisome the maiden growing, Her existence sad and hopeless, Thus alone to live for ages In the infinite expanses Of the air above the sea-foam, In the far outstretching spaces, In a solitude of ether, She descended to the ocean, Waves her coach, and waves her pillow. Thereupon the rising storm-wind Flying from the East in fierceness, Whips the ocean into surges, Strikes the stars with sprays of ocean Till the waves are white with fervor. To and fro they toss the maiden, Storm-encircled, hapless maiden; With her sport the rolling billows, With her play the storm-wind forces, On the blue back of the waters; On the white-wreathed waves of ocean, Play the forces of the salt-sea, With the lone and helpless maiden; Till at last in full conception, Union now of force and beauty, Sink the storm-winds into slumber; Overburdened now the maiden Cannot rise above the surface; Seven hundred years she wandered, Ages nine of man's existence, Swam the ocean hither, thither, Could not rise above the waters, Conscious only of her travail; Seven hundred years she labored Ere her first-born was delivered. Thus she swam as water-mother, Toward the east, and also southward, Toward the west, and also northward; Swam the sea in all directions, Frightened at the strife of storm-winds, Swam in travail, swam unceasing, Ere her first-born was delivered.
Then began she gently weeping, Spake these measures, heavy-hearted: "Woe is me, my life hard-fated! Woe is me, in this my travail! Into what have I now fallen? Woe is me, that I unhappy, Left my home in subtle ether, Came to dwell amid the sea-foam, To be tossed by rolling billows, To be rocked by winds and waters, On the far outstretching waters, In the salt-sea's vast expanses, Knowing only pain and trouble! Better far for me, O Ukko! Were I maiden in the Ether, Than within these ocean-spaces, To become a water-mother! All this life is cold and dreary, Painful here is every motion, As I linger in the waters, As I wander through the ocean. Ukko, thou O God, up yonder, Thou the ruler of the heavens, Come thou hither, thou art needed, Come thou hither, I implore thee, To deliver me from trouble, To deliver me in travail. Come I pray thee, hither hasten, Hasten more that thou art needed, Haste and help this helpless maiden!"
When she ceased her supplications, Scarce a moment onward passes, Ere a beauteous duck descending, Hastens toward the water-mother, Comes a-flying hither, thither, Seeks herself a place for nesting. Flies she eastward, flies she westward, Circles northward, circles southward, Cannot find a grassy hillock, Not the smallest bit of verdure; Cannot find a spot protected, Cannot find a place befitting, Where to make her nest in safety. Flying slowly, looking round her, She descries no place for resting, Thinking loud and long debating, And her words are such as follow: "Build I in the winds my dwelling, On the floods my place of nesting? Surely would the winds destroy it, Far away the waves would wash it."
Then the daughter of the Ether, Now the hapless water-mother, Raised her shoulders out of water, Raised her knees above the ocean, That the duck might build her dwelling, Build her nesting-place in safety. Thereupon the duck in beauty, Flying slowly, looking round her, Spies the shoulders of the maiden, Sees the knees of Ether's daughter, Now the hapless water-mother, Thinks them to be grassy hillocks, On the blue back of the ocean. Thence she flies and hovers slowly, Lightly on the knee she settles, Finds a nesting-place befitting, Where to lay her eggs in safety. Here she builds her humble dwelling, Lays her eggs within, at pleasure, Six, the golden eggs she lays there, Then a seventh, an egg of iron; Sits upon her eggs to hatch them, Quickly warms them on the knee-cap Of the hapless water-mother; Hatches one day, then a second, Then a third day sits and hatches. Warmer grows the water round her, Warmer is her bed in ocean, While her knee with fire is kindled, And her shoulders too are burning, Fire in every vein is coursing. Quick the maiden moves her shoulders, Shakes her members in succession, Shakes the nest from its foundation, And the eggs fall into ocean, Dash in pieces on the bottom Of the deep and boundless waters. In the sand they do not perish, Not the pieces in the ocean; But transformed, in wondrous beauty All the fragments come together Forming pieces two in number, One the upper, one the lower, Equal to the one, the other. From one half the egg, the lower, Grows the nether vault of Terra: From the upper half remaining, Grows the upper vault of Heaven;
From the white part come the moonbeams, From the yellow part the sunshine, From the motley part the starlight, From the dark part grows the cloudage; And the days speed onward swiftly, Quickly do the years fly over, From the shining of the new sun From the lighting of the full moon.
Still the daughter of the Ether, Swims the sea as water-mother, With the floods outstretched before her, And behind her sky and ocean. Finally about the ninth year, In the summer of the tenth year, Lifts her head above the surface, Lifts her forehead from the waters, And begins at last her workings, Now commences her creations, On the azure water-ridges, On the mighty waste before her. Where her hand she turned in water, There arose a fertile hillock; Wheresoe'er her foot she rested, There she made a hole for fishes; Where she dived beneath the waters, Fell the many deeps of ocean; Where upon her side she turned her, There the level banks have risen; Where her head was pointed landward, There appeared wide bays and inlets; When from shore she swam a distance, And upon her back she rested, There the rocks she made and fashioned, And the hidden reefs created, Where the ships are wrecked so often, Where so many lives have perished.
Thus created were the islands, Rocks were fastened in the ocean, Pillars of the sky were planted, Fields and forests were created, Checkered stones of many colors, Gleaming in the silver sunlight, All the rocks stood well established; But the singer, Wainamoinen, Had not yet beheld the sunshine, Had not seen the golden moonlight, Still remaining undelivered.
Wainamoinen, old and trusty, Lingering within his dungeon Thirty summers altogether, And of winters, also thirty, Peaceful on the waste of waters, On the broad-sea's yielding bosom, Well reflected, long considered, How unborn to live and flourish In the spaces wrapped in darkness, In uncomfortable limits, Where he had not seen the moonlight, Had not seen the silver sunshine. Thereupon these words he uttered, Let himself be heard in this wise: "Take, O Moon, I pray thee, take me, Take me, thou, O Sun above me, Take me, thou, O Bear of heaven, From this dark and dreary prison, From these unbefitting portals, From this narrow place of resting, From this dark and gloomy dwelling, Hence to wander from the ocean, Hence to walk upon the islands, On the dry land walk and wander, Like an ancient hero wander, Walk in open air and breathe it, Thus to see the moon at evening, Thus to see the silver sunlight, Thus to see the Bear in heaven, That the stars I may consider."
Since the Moon refused to free him, And the Sun would not deliver, Nor the Great Bear give assistance, His existence growing weary, And his life but an annoyance, Bursts he then the outer portals Of his dark and dismal fortress; With his strong, but unnamed finger, Opens he the lock resisting; With the toes upon his left foot, With the fingers of his right hand, Creeps he through the yielding portals To the threshold of his dwelling; On his knees across the threshold, Throws himself head foremost, forward Plunges into deeps of ocean, Plunges hither, plunges thither, Turning with his hands the water; Swims he northward, swims he southward, Swims he eastward, swims he westward, Studying his new surroundings.
Thus our hero reached the water, Rested five years in the ocean, Six long years, and even seven years, Till the autumn of the eighth year, When at last he leaves the waters, Stops upon a promontory, On a coast bereft of verdure; On his knees he leaves the ocean, On the land he plants his right foot, On the solid ground his left foot, Quickly turns his hands about him, Stands erect to see the sunshine, Stands to see the golden moonlight, That he may behold the Great Bear, That he may the stars consider. Thus our hero, Wainamoinen, Thus the wonderful enchanter Was delivered from his mother, Ilmatar, the Ether's daughter.