Kalevala: Forging the Sampo

This story is part of the Kalevala unit. Story source: Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot, translated by W. F. Kirby (1907).

Runo 10: Forging the Sampo
Runo 8 Summary: On his journey Väinämöinen encounters the magnificently-clad Maiden of Pohja and makes advances to her. The maiden at length consents to his wishes if he will make a boat from the splinters of her spindle and move it into the water without touching it. Väinämöinen sets to work, but wounds his knee severely with his axe, and cannot stanch the flow of blood. He goes in search of some magic remedy and finds an old man who promises to stop the bleeding.

Runo 9 Summary: Väinämöinen repeats to the old man the legend of the origin of iron. The old man reviles the iron and repeats spells for the stopping of blood, and the flow of blood is stayed. The old man directs his son to prepare a salve, and dresses and binds up the wound. Väinämöinen is cured, and thanks Jumala for his merciful assistance.

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Took his horse of chestnut colour,
And between the shafts he yoked him,
Yoked before the sledge the chestnut,
On the sledge himself he mounted,
And upon the seat he sat him;
Quickly then his whip he flourished,
Cracked his whip, all bead-embroidered,
Quick he sped upon his journey,
Lurched the sledge, the way was shortened,
Loudly rang the birchwood runners,
And the rowan cumber rattled;
On he rushed with speed tremendous,
Through the swamps and open country,
O'er the heaths, so wide extending.

Thus he drove a day, a second,
And at length, upon the third day,
Reached the long bridge-end before him
Kalevala's extended heathlands,
Bordering on the field of Osmo;
Then he spoke the words which follow,
And expressed himself in this wise:
"Wolf, do thou devour the dreamer,
Seize the Laplander, O sickness,
He who said that I should never
In my lifetime reach my homestead,
Nor again throughout my lifetime,
Nor as long as shines the moonlight,
Neither tread Väinölä's meadows;
Kalevala's extended heathlands."

Then the aged Väinämöinen,
Spoke aloud his songs of magic,
And a flower-crowned birch grew upward,
Crowned with flowers, and leaves all golden,
And its summit reached to heaven,
To the very clouds uprising,
In the air the boughs extended,
And they spread themselves to heaven;
Then he sang his songs of magic,
And he sang a moon all shining,
On the pine-tree's golden summit,
And the Great Bear in the branches.

On he drove with speed tremendous,
Straight to his beloved homestead,
Head bowed down, and thoughts all gloomy,
And his cap was tilted sideways,
For the great smith Ilmarinen,
He the great primeval craftsman,
He had promised as his surety,
That his own head he might rescue
Out of Pohjola's dark regions,
Sariola for ever misty.

Presently his horse he halted
At the new-cleared field of Osmo,
And the aged Väinämöinen,
In the sledge his head uplifted,
Heard the noise within the smithy,
And the clatter in the coal-shed;
Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Then himself the smithy entered,
And he found smith Ilmarinen,
Wielding mightily his hammer.

Said the smith, said Ilmarinen,
"O thou aged Väinämöinen,
Where have you so long been staying.
Where have you so long been living?"

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow:
"There have I so long been staying,
There have I so long been living,
In the gloomy land of Pohja,
Sariola for ever misty;
Long I coursed on Lapland snowshoes,
With the world-renowned magicians."

Then the smith, e'en Ilmarinen,
Answered in the words which follow:
"O thou aged Väinämöinen,
Thou the great primeval sorcerer,
Tell me of your journey thither,
Tell me of your homeward journey."

Said the aged Väinämöinen,
"Much indeed have I to tell you:
Lives in Pohjola a maiden,
In that village cold a virgin,
Who will not accept a suitor,
Mocks the very best among them;
Half of all the land of Pohja
Praises her surpassing beauty:
From her temples shines the moonlight,
From her breasts the sun is shining,
And the Great Bear from her shoulders,
From her back the starry Seven.
Thou thyself, smith Ilmarinen,
Thou, the great primeval craftsman,
Go thyself to woo the maiden,
And behold her shining tresses;
If you can but forge a Sampo,
With its many-coloured cover,
You will then receive the maiden,
And the fair maid be your guerdon."

Said the smith, e'en Ilmarinen,
"O thou aged Väinämöinen,
You have perhaps already pledged me
To the gloomy land of Pohja,
That your own head you might rescue,
And might thus secure your freedom;
Not in course of all my lifetime,
While the golden moon is shining,
Hence to Pohjola I'll journey,
Huts of Sariola so dreary,
Where the people eat each other,
And they even drown the heroes."

Then the aged Väinämöinen
Answered in the words which follow:
"There is wonder after wonder;
There's a pine with flowery summit,
Flowery summit, leaves all golden,
Near where Osmo's field is bordered.
On the crown the moon is shining,
In the boughs the Bear is resting."

Said the smith, e'en Ilmarinen,
"This I never can believe in,
If I do not go to see it,
And my own eyes have not seen it."

Said the aged Väinämöinen,
"If you cannot then believe it,
We will go ourselves and witness
Whether true or false the story."

Then they both went forth to see it,
View the pine with flowery summit,
First walked aged Väinämöinen,
And smith Ilmarinen second.

When they reached the spot they sought for,
On the edge of Osmo's cornfield,
Then the smith his steps arrested,
In amazement at the pine-tree,
With the Great Bear in the branches,
And the moon upon its summit.

Then the aged Väinämöinen,
Spoke the very words which follow:
"Now thou smith, my dearest brother,
Climb and fetch the moon above us,
Bring thou, too, the Great Bear shining
On the pine-tree's golden summit."

Then the smith, e'en Ilmarinen,
Climbed aloft into the pine-tree,
Up he climbed into the daylight,
Climbed to fetch the moon above him,
And the Great Bear, shining brightly,
On the pine-tree's golden summit.

Said the pine-tree's golden summit,
Said the widely-branching pine-tree,
"Mighty man, of all most foolish,
O most thoughtless of the heroes!
In my branches, fool, thou climbest,
To my summit, as a boy might,
And would'st grasp the moon's reflection,
And the false stars thou beholdest!"

Then the aged Väinämöinen,
Lifted up his voice in singing.
As he sang uprose a tempest,
And the wind rose wildly furious,
And he spoke the words which follow.
And expressed himself in thiswise:
"In thy boat, O wind, convey him,
In thy skiff, O breeze, convey him,
Bear him to the distant regions
Of the gloomy land of Pohja."

Then there rose a mighty tempest,
And the wind so wildly furious
Carried off smith Ilmarinen,
Hurried him to distant regions,
To the gloomy land of Pohja,
Sariola for ever misty.

(1200 words)

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