Kalevala: Joukahainen and Väinämöinen (cont.)

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

Runo 3: Joukahainen and Väinämöinen (cont.)
(see previous page for audio)

But the youthful Joukahainen
Answered in the words which follow:
"Here of youthfulness we reck not;
Nought doth youth or age concern us:
He who highest stands in knowledge,
He whose wisdom is the greatest,
Let him keep the path before him,
And the other yield the passage.
If you are old Väinämöinen,
And the oldest of the minstrels,
Let us give ourselves to singing,
Let us now repeat our sayings,
That the one may teach the other.
And the one surpass the other."

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow:
"What can I myself accomplish
As a wise man or a singer?
I have passed my life in quiet,
Here among these very moorlands,
On the borders of my home-field
I have heard the cuckoo calling.
But apart from this at present,
I will ask you to inform me:
What may be your greatest wisdom
And the utmost of your knowledge?"

Said the youthful Joukahainen,
"Many things I know in fulness,
And I know with perfect clearness,
And my insight shows me plainly:
In the roof we find the smoke-hole,
And the fire is near the hearthstone;
Joyful life the seal is leading,
In the waves there sports the sea-dog,
And he feeds upon the salmon,
And the powans round about him;
Smooth the water loved by powans,
Smooth the surface, too, for salmon;
And in frost the pike is spawning,
Slimy fish in wintry weather;
Sluggish is the perch, the humpback,
In the depths it swims in autumn,
But it spawns in drought of summer,
Swimming slowly to the margin.
If this does not yet suffice you,
I am wise in other matters,
And of weighty things can tell you:
In the north they plough with reindeer,
In the south the mare is useful,
And the elk In furthest Lapland;
Trees I know on Pisa mountain,
Firs upon the rocks of Horna,
Tall the trees on Pisa mountain,
And the firs on rocks of Horna;
Three great waterfalls I know of,
And as many lakes extensive,
And as many lofty mountains,
Underneath the vault of heaven;
Halläpyörä is in Hame,
Karjala has Kaatrakoski,
But they do not match the Vuoksi,
There where Imatra is rushing."

Said the aged Väinämöinen,
"Childish tales, and woman's wisdom,
But for bearded men unsuited,
And for married men unfitted.
Tell me words of deepest wisdom.
Tell me now of things eternal."

Then the youthful Joukahainen
Answered in the words which follow:
"Well I know whence comes the titmouse,
That the titmouse is a birdie,
And a snake the hissing viper,
And the ruffe a fish in water,
And I know that hard is iron,
And that mud when black is bitter;
Painful, too, is boiling water,
And the heat of fire is hurtful;
Water is the oldest medicine;
Cataract's foam a magic potion;
The Creator's self a sorcerer,
Jumala the Great Magician;
From the rock springs forth the water,
And the fire from heaven descendeth,
And from ore we get the iron,
And in hills we find the copper;
Marshy country is the oldest,
And the first of trees the willow;
Pine-roots were the oldest houses,
And the earliest pots were stone ones."

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow:
"Is there more that you can tell me,
Or is this the end of nonsense?"

Said the youthful Joukahainen,
"Many little things I wot of,
And the time I well remember
When 'twas I who ploughed the ocean,
Hollowed out the depths of ocean,
And I dug the caves for fishes,
And I sunk the deep abysses,
When the lakes I first created,
And I heaped the hills together.
And the rocky mountains fashioned;
Then I stood with six great heroes!
I myself the seventh among them;
When the earth was first created,
And the air above expanded,
For the sky I fixed the pillars
And I reared the arch of heaven,
To the moon assigned his journey,
Helped the sun upon his pathway,
To the Bear his place appointed,
And the stars in heaven I scattered."

Said the aged Väinämöinen,
"Ay, indeed, a shameless liar!
You at least were never present
When the ocean first was furrowed,
And the ocean depths were hollowed,
And the caves were dug for fishes,
And the deep abysses sunken,
And the lakes were first created,
When the hills were heaped together,
And the rocky mountains fashioned;
No one ever yet had seen you,
None had seen you, none had heard you,
When the earth was first created
And the air above expanded,
When the posts of heaven were planted,
And the arch of heaven exalted,
When the moon was shown his pathway
And the sun was taught to journey,
When the Bear was fixed in heaven
And the stars in heaven were scattered."

But the youthful Joukahainen
Answered in the words which follow:
"If I fail in understanding,
I will seek it at the sword-point:
O thou aged Väinämöinen,
O thou very broad-mouthed minstrel,
Let us measure swords together,
Let the blade decide between us."

Said the aged Väinämöinen,
"I have little cause to fret me
Either for your sword or wisdom,
For your sword-point or your judgment,
But, apart from this at present,
I will draw no sword upon you,
So contemptible a fellow,
And so pitiful a weakling."

(900 words)

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