The Kalevala/Rune XIX

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The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot, translated by John Martin Crawford
Rune XIX

Rune XIX. Ilmarinen's Wooing.[edit]

ILMARINEN, hero-blacksmith,
The eternal metal-worker,
Hastens forward to the court-room
Of the hostess of Pohyola,
Of the master of the Northland,
Hastens through the open portals
Into Louhi's home and presence.
Servants come with silver pitchers,
Filled with Northland's richest brewing;
Honey-drink is brought and offered
To the blacksmith of Wainola,
Ilmarinen thus replying:
"I shall not in all my life-time
Taste the drink that thou hast brought me,
Till I see the Maid of Beauty,
Fairy Maiden of the Rainbow;
I will drink with her in gladness,
For whose hand I journey hither."
Spake the hostess of Pohyola:
"Trouble does the one selected
Give to him that wooes and watches;
Not yet are her feet in sandals,
Thine affianced is not ready.
Only canst thou woo my daughter,
Only canst thou win the maiden,
When thou hast by aid of magic
Plowed the serpent-field of Hisi,
Plowed the field of hissing vipers,
Touching neither beam nor handles.
Once this field was plowed by Piru,
Lempo furrowed it with horses,
With a plowshare made of copper,
With a beam of flaming iron;
Never since has any hero
Brought this field to cultivation."

Ilmarinen of Wainola
Straightway hastens to the chamber
Of the Maiden of the Rainbow,
Speaks these words in hesitation:
"Thou of Night and Dawn the daughter,
Tell me, dost thou not remember
When for thee I forged the Sampo,
Hammered thee the lid in colors?
Thou didst swear by oath the strougest,
By the forge and by the anvil,
By the tongs and by the hammer,
In the ears of the Almighty,
And before omniscient Ukko,
Thou wouldst follow me hereafter,
Be my bride, my life-companion,
Be my honored wife forever.
Now thy mother is exacting,
Will not give to me her daughter,
Till by means of magic only,
I have plowed the field of serpents,
Plowed the hissing soil of Hisi."

The affianced Bride of Beauty
Gives this answer to the suitor:
"O, thou blacksmith, Ilmarinen,
The eternal wonder-forger,
Forge thyself a golden plowshare,
Forge the beam of shining silver,
And of copper forge the handles;
Then with ease, by aid of magic,
Thou canst plow the field of serpents,
Plow the hissing soil of Hisi."

Ilmarinen, welcome suitor,
Straightway builds a forge and smithy,
Places gold within the furnace,
In the forge he lays the silver,
Forges then a golden plowshare,
Forges, too, a beam of silver,
Forges handles out of copper,
Forges boots and gloves of iron,
Forges him a mail of metal,
For his limbs a safe protection,
Safe protection for his body.
Then a horse of fire selecting,
Harnesses the flaming stallion,
Goes to plow the field of serpents,
Plow the viper-lands of Hisi.
In the field were countless vipers,
Serpents there of every species,
Crawling, writhing, hissing, stinging,
Harmless all against the hero,
Thus he stills the snakes of Lempo:
"Vipers, ye by God created,
Neither best nor worst of creatures,
Ye whose wisdom comes from Ukko,
And whose venom comes from Hisi,
Ukko is your greater Master,
By His will your heads are lifted;
Get ye hence before my plowing,
Writ-he ye through the grass and stubble,
Crawl ye to the nearest thicket,
Keep your heads beneath the heather,
Hunt our holes to Mana's kingdom
If your poison-heads be lifted,
Then will mighty Ukko smite them
'With his iron-pointed arrows,
With the lightning of his anger."

Thus the blacksmith, Ilmarinen,
Safely plows the field of serpents,
Lifts the vipers in his plowing,
Buries them beneath the furrow,
Harmless all against his magic.
When the task had been completed,
Ilmarinen, quick returning,
Thus addressed Pohyola's hostess:
"I have plowed the field of Hisi,
Plowed the field of hissing serpents,
Stilled and banished all the vipers;
Give me, ancient dame, thy daughter,
Fairest maiden of the Northland.
Spake the hostess of Pohyola:
"Shall not grant to thee my daughter,
Shall not give my lovely virgin,
Till Tuoni's bear is muzzled,
Till Manala's wolf is conquered,
In the forests of the Death-land,
In the boundaries of Mana.
Hundreds have been sent to hunt him,
So one yet has been successful,
All have perished in Manala."

Thereupon young Ilmarinen
To the maiden's chamber hastens,
Thus addresses his affianced:
"Still another test demanded,
I must go to Tuonela,
Bridle there the bear of Mana,
Bring him from the Death-land forests,
From Tuoni's grove and empire!
This advice the maiden gives him:
"O thou artist, Ilmarinen,
The eternal metal-worker,
Forge of steel a magic bridle,
On a rock beneath the water,
In the foaming triple currents;
Make the straps of steel and copper,
Bridle then the bear of Mana,
Lead him from Tuoni's forests."

Then the blacksmith, Ilmarinen,
Forged of steel a magic bridle,
On a rock beneath the water,
In the foam of triple currents;
Made the straps of steel and copper,
Straightway went the bear to muzzle,
In the forests of the Death-land,
Spake these words in supplication:
"Terhenetar, ether-maiden,
Daughter of the fog and snow-flake,
Sift the fog and let it settle
O'er the bills and lowland thickets,
Where the wild-bear feeds and lingers,
That he may not see my coming,
May not hear my stealthy footsteps!"

Terhenetar hears his praying,
Makes the fog and snow-flake settle
On the coverts of the wild-beasts;
Thus the bear he safely bridles,
Fetters him in chains of magic,
In the forests of Tuoni,
In the blue groves of Manala.

When this task had been completed,
Ilmarinen, quick returning,
Thus addressed the ancient Louhi:
"Give me, worthy dame, thy daughter,
Give me now my bride affianced,
I have brought the bear of Mana
From Tuoni's fields and forests."
Spake the hostess of Pohyola
To the blacksmith, Ilmarinen:
"I will only give my daughter,
Give to thee the Maid of Beauty,
When the monster-pike thou catchest
In the river of Tuoni,
In Manala's fatal waters,
Using neither hooks, nor fish-nets,
Neither boat, nor fishing-tackle;
Hundreds have been sent to catch him,
No one yet has been successful,
All have perished in Manala."

Much disheartened, Ilmarinen
Hastened to the maiden's chamber,
Thus addressed the rainbow-maiden:
"Now a third test is demanded,
Much more difficult than ever;
I must catch the pike of Mana,
In the river of Tuoni,
And without my fishing-tackle,
Hard the third test of the hero!
This advice the maiden gives him:
"O thou hero, Ilmarinen,
Never, never be discouraged:
In thy furnace, forge an eagle,
From the fire of ancient magic;
He will catch the pike of Mana,
Catch the monster-fish in safety,
From the death-stream of Tuoni,
From Manala's fatal waters."

Then the suitor, Ilmarinen,
The eternal artist-forgeman,
In the furnace forged an eagle
From the fire of ancient wisdom;
For this giant bird of magic
Forged he talons out of iron,
And his beak of steel and copper;
Seats himself upon the eagle,
On his back between the wing-bones,
Thus addresses he his creature,
Gives the bird of fire, this order:
"Mighty eagle, bird of beauty,
Fly thou whither I direct thee,
To Tuoni's coal-black river,
To the blue deeps of the Death-stream,
Seize the mighty fish of Mana,
Catch for me this water-monster."

Swiftly flies the magic eagle,
Giant-bird of worth and wonder,
To the river of Tuoni,
There to catch the pike of Mana;
One wing brushes on the waters,
While the other sweeps the heavens;
In the ocean dips his talons,
Whets his beak on mountain-ledges.

Safely landing, Ilmarinen,
The immortal artist-forger,
Hunts the monster of the Death-stream,
While the eagle hunts and fishes
In the waters of Manala.
From the river rose a monster,
Grasped the blacksmith, Ilmarinen,
Tried to drag him to his sea-cave;
Quick the eagle pounced upon him,
With his metal-beak he seized him,
Wrenched his head, and rent his body,
Hurled him back upon the bottom
Of the deep and fatal river,
Freed his master, Ilmarinen.

Then arose the pike of Mana,
Came the water-dog in silence,
Of the pikes was not the largest,
Nor belonged he to the smallest;
Tongue the length of double hatchets,
Teeth as long as fen-rake handles,
Mouth as broad as triple streamlets,
Back as wide as seven sea-boats,
Tried to snap the magic blacksmith,
Tried to swallow Ilmarinen.
Swiftly swoops the mighty eagle,
Of the birds was not the largest,
Nor belonged he to the smallest;
Mouth as wide as seven streamlets,
Tongue as long as seven javelins,
Like five crooked scythes his talons;
Swoops upon the pike of Mana.
Quick the giant fish endangered,
Darts and flounders in the river,
Dragging down the mighty eagle,
Lashing up the very bottom
To the surface of the river;
When the mighty bird uprising
Leaves the wounded pike in water,
Soars aloft on worsted pinions
To his home in upper ether;
Soars awhile, and sails, and circles,
Circles o'er the reddened waters,
Swoops again on lightning-pinions,
Strikes with mighty force his talons
Into the shoulder of his victim;
Strikes the second of his talons
On the flinty mountain-ledges,
On the rocks with iron hardened;
From the cliffs rebound his talons,
Slip the flinty rocks o'erhanging,
And the monster-pike resisting
Dives again beneath the surface
To the bottom of the river,
From the talons of the eagle;
Deep, the wounds upon the body
Of the monster of Tuoni.
Still a third time soars the eagle,
Soars, and sails, and quickly circles,
Swoops again upon the monster,
Fire out-shooting from his pinoins,
Both his eyeballs flashing lightning;
With his beak of steel and copper
Grasps again the pike of Mana
Firmly planted are his talons
In the rocks and in his victim,
Drags the monster from the river,
Lifts the pike above the waters,
From Tuoni's coal-black river,
From the blue-back of Manala.

Thus the third time does the eagle
Bring success from former failures;
Thus at last the eagle catches
Mana's pike, the worst of fishes,
Swiftest swimmer of the waters,
From the river of Tuoni;
None could see Manala's river,
For the myriad of fish-scales;
Hardly could one see through ether,
For the feathers of the eagle,
Relicts of the mighty contest.

Then the bird of copper talons
Took the pike, with scales of silver,
To the pine-tree's topmost branches,
To the fir-tree plumed with needles,
Tore the monster-fish in pieces,
Ate the body of his victim,
Left the head for Ilmarinen.
Spake the blacksmith to the eagle:
"O thou bird of evil nature,
What thy thought and what thy motive?
Thou hast eaten what I needed,
Evidence of my successes;
Thoughtless eagle, witless instinct,
Thus to mar the spoils of conquest!"

But the bird of metal talons
Hastened onward, soaring upward,
Rising higher into ether,
Rising, flying, soaring, sailing,
To the borders of the long-clouds,
Made the vault of ether tremble,
Split apart the dome of heaven,
Broke the colored bow of Ukko,
Tore the Moon-horns from their sockets,
Disappeared beyond the Sun-land,
To the home of the triumphant.

Then the blacksmith, Ilmarinen,
Took the pike-head to the hostess
Of the ever-dismal Northland,
Thus addressed the ancient Louhi:
"Let this head forever serve thee
As a guest-bench for thy dwelling,
Evidence of hero-triumphs;
I have caught the pike of Mana,
I have done as thou demandest,
Three my victories in Death-land,
Three the tests of magic heroes;
Wilt thou give me now thy daughter,
Give to me the Maid of Beauty?"
Spake the hostess of Pohyola:
"Badly is the test accomplished,
Thou has torn the pike in pieces,
From his neck the head is severed,
Of his body thou hast eaten,
Brought to me this worthless relic!
These the words of Ilmarinen:
"When the victory is greatest,
Do we suffer greatest losses!
From the river of Tuoni,
From the kingdom of Manala,
I have brought to thee this trophy,
Thus the third task is completed.
Tell me is the maiden ready,
Wilt thou give the bride affianced?
Spake the hostess of Pohyola:
"I will give to thee my daughter,
Will prepare my snow-white virgin,
For the suitor, Ilmarinen;
Thou hast won the Maid of Beauty,
Bride is she of thine hereafter,
Fit companion of thy fireside,
Help and joy of all thy lifetime."

On the floor a child was sitting,
And the babe this tale related.
"There appeared within this dwelling,
Came a bird within the castle,
From the East came flying hither,
From the East, a monstrous eagle,
One wing touched the vault of heaven,
While the other swept the ocean;
With his tail upon the waters,
Reached his beak beyond the cloudlets,
Looked about, and eager watching,
Flew around, and sailing, soaring,
Flew away to hero-castle,
Knocked three times with beak of copper
On the castle-roof of iron;
But the eagle could not enter.

"Then the eagle, looking round him,
Flew again, and sailed, and circled,
Flew then to the mothers' castle,
Loudly rapped with heavy knocking
On the mothers' roof of copper;
But the eagle could not enter.

"Then the eagle, looking round him,
Flew a third time, sailing, soaring,
Flew then to the virgins' castle,
Knocked again with beak of copper,
On the virgins' roof of linen,
Easy for him there to enter;
Flew upon the castle-chimney,
Quick descending to the chamber,
Pulled the clapboards from the studding,
Tore the linen from the rafters,
Perched upon the chamber-window,
Near the walls of many colors,
On the cross-bars gaily-feathered,
Looked upon the curly-beaded,
Looked upon their golden ringlets,
Looked upon the snow-white virgins,
On the purest of the maidens,
On the fairest of the daughters,
On the maid with pearly necklace,
On the maiden wreathed in flowers;
Perched awhile, and looked, admiring,
Swooped upon the Maid of Beauty,
On the purest of the virgins,
On the whitest, on the fairest,
On the stateliest and grandest,
Swooped upon the rainbow-daughter
Of the dismal Sariola;
Grasped her in his mighty talons,
Bore away the Maid of Beauty,
Maid of fairest form and feature,
Maid adorned with pearly necklace,
Decked in feathers iridescent,
Fragrant flowers upon her bosom,
Scarlet band around her forehead,
Golden rings upon her fingers,
Fairest maiden of the Northland."

Spake the hostess of Pohyola,
When the babe his tale had ended:
"Tell me bow, my child beloved,
Thou hast learned about the maiden,
Hast obtained the information,
How her flaxen ringlets nestled,
How the maiden's silver glistened,
How the virgin's gold was lauded.
Shone the silver Sun upon thee,
Did the moonbeams bring this knowledge?"
From the floor the child made answer:
"Thus I gained the information,
Moles of good-luck led me hither,
To the home, of the distinguished,
To the guest-room of the maiden,
Good-name bore her worthy father,
He that sailed the magic vessel;
Better-name enjoyed the mother,
She that baked the bread of barley,
She that kneaded wheaten biscuits,
Fed her many guests in Northland.

"Thus the information reached me,
Thus the distant stranger heard it,
Heard the virgin had arisen:
Once I walked within the court-yard,
Stepping near the virgin's chamber,
At an early hour of morning,
Ere the Sun had broken slumber
Whirling rose the soot in cloudlets,
Blackened wreaths of smoke came rising
From the chamber of the maiden,
From thy daughter's lofty chimney;
There the maid was busy grinding,
Moved the handles of the millstone
Making voices like the cuckoo,
Like the ducks the side-holes sounded,
And the sifter like the goldfinch,
Like the sea-pearls sang the grindstones.

"Then a second time I wandered
To the border of the meadow
In the forest was the maiden
Rocking on a fragrant hillock,
Dyeing red in iron vessels,
And in copper kettles, yellow.

"Then a third time did I wander
To the lovely maiden's window;
There I saw thy daughter weaving,
Heard the flying of her shuttle,
Heard the beating of her loom-lathe,
Heard the rattling of her treddles,
Heard the whirring of her yarn-reel."
Spake the hostess of Pohyola:
"Now alas! beloved daughter,
I have often taught this lesson:
'Do not sing among the pine-trees,
Do not call adown the valleys,
Do not hang thy head in walking,
Do not bare thine arms, nor shoulders,
Keep the secrets of thy bosom,
Hide thy beauty and thy power.'

"This I told thee in the autumn,
Taught thee in the summer season,
Sang thee in the budding spring-time,
Sang thee when the snows were falling:
'Let us build a place for hiding,
Let us build the smallest windows,
Where may weave my fairest daughter,
Where my maid may ply her shuttle,
Where my joy may work unnoticed
By the heroes of the Northland,
By the suitors of Wainola.'"

From the floor the child made answer,
Fourteen days the young child numbered;
"Easy 'tis to hide a war-horse
In the Northland fields and stables;
Hard indeed to hide a maiden,
Having lovely form and features!
Build of stone a distant castle
In the middle of the ocean,
Keep within thy lovely maiden,
Train thou there thy winsome daughter,
Not long hidden canst thou keep her.
Maidens will not grow and flourish,
Kept apart from men and heroes,
Will not live without their suitors,
Will not thrive without their wooers;
Thou canst never hide a maiden,
Neither on the land nor water."

Now the ancient Wainamoinen,
Head down-bent and heavy-hearted,
Wanders to his native country,
To Wainola's peaceful meadows,
To the plains of Kalevala,
Chanting as he journeys homeward:
"I have passed the age for wooing,
Woe is me, rejected suitor,
Woe is me, a witless minstrel,
That I did not woo and marry,
When my face was young and winsome,
When my hand was warm and welcome!
Youth dethrones my age and station,
Wealth is nothing, wisdom worthless,
When a hero goes a-wooing
With a poor but younger brother.
Fatal error that a hero
Does not wed in early manhood,
In his youth does not be master
Of a worthy wife and household."

Thus the ancient Wainamoinen
Sends the edict to his people:
"Old men must not go a-wooing,
Must not swim the sea of anger,
Must not row upon a wager,
Must not run a race for glory,
With the younger sons of Northland."