Kalevala: Joukahainen and Väinämöinen

If you are listening to the audio, you will hear the "argument" (summary) at the beginning of each new runo.

[Notes by LKG]

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
Väinämöinen, old and steadfast
Passed the days of his existence
Where lie Väinölä's sweet meadows,
Kalevala's extended heathlands:
There he sang his songs of sweetness
Sang his songs and proved his wisdom.

Day by day he sang unwearied,
Night by night discoursed unceasing,
Sang the songs of by-gone ages,
Hidden words of ancient wisdom,
Songs which all the children sing not,
All beyond men's comprehension,
In these ages of misfortune,
When the race is near Its ending.

Far away the news was carried,
Far abroad was spread the tidings
Of the songs of Väinämöinen,
Of the wisdom of the hero;
In the south was spread the rumour;
Reached to Pohjola the tidings.

Here dwelt youthful Joukahainen,
He, the meagre youth of Lapland;
And, when visiting the village,
Wondrous tales he heard related,
How there dwelt another minstrel,
And that better songs were carolled.

Far in Väinölä's sweet meadows,
Kalevala's extended heathlands,
Better songs than he could compass,
Better than his father taught him.

This he heard with great displeasure,
And his heart was filled with envy
That the songs of Väinämöinen
Better than his own were reckoned.

Then he went to seek his mother;
Sought her out, the aged woman,
And declared that he would journey,
And was eager to betake him,
Unto Väinölä's far dwellings,
That he might contend with Väinö.

But his father straight forbade him,
Both his father and his mother,
Thence to Väinölä to journey,
That he might contend with Väinö.

"He will surely sing against you,
Sing against you, and will ban you,
Sink your mouth and head in snow-drifts,
And your hands in bitter tempest:
Till your hands and feet are stiffened,
And incapable of motion."

Said the youthful Joukahainen,
"Good the counsel of my father,
And my mother's counsel better;
Best of all my own opinion.

"I will set myself against him,
And defy him to a contest;
I myself my songs will sing him;
I myself will speak my mantras,
Sing until the best of minstrels
Shall become the worst of singers.

"Shoes of stone will I provide him,
Wooden trousers on his haunches,
On his breast a stony burden,
And a rock upon his shoulders;
Stony gloves his hands shall cover,
And his head a stony helmet."

Then he went his way unheeding,
Went his way and fetched his gelding,
From whose mouth the fire was flashing,
'Neath whose legs the sparks were flying.

Then the fiery steed he harnessed;
To the golden sledge he yoked him;
In the sledge himself he mounted,
And upon the seat he sat him,
O'er the horse his whip he brandished;
With the beaded whip he smote him;
From the place the horse sprang quickly,
And he darted lightly forwards.

On he drove with thundering clatter,
As he drove a day, a second,
Driving also on the third day,
And at length upon the third day,
Came to Väinölä's sweet meadows,
Kalevala's extended heathlands.

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
He, the oldest of magicians,
As it chanced was driving onward,
Peacefully his course pursuing
On through Väinölä's sweet meadows,
Kalevala's extended heathlands.

Came the youthful Joukahainen
Driving on the road against him,
And the shafts were wedged together,
And the reins were all entangled,
And the collar jammed with collar,
And the runners dashed together.

Thus their progress was arrested,
Thus they halted and reflected;
Sweat dropped down upon the runners;
From the shafts the steam was rising.

Asked the aged Väinämöinen,
"Who are you, and what your lineage,
You who drive so reckless onward,
Utterly without reflection?

"Broken are the horses' collars,
And the wooden runners likewise;
You have smashed my sledge to pieces,
Broke the sledge in which I travelled."

Then the youthful Joukahainen
Answered in the words which follow:

"I am youthful Joukahainen;
But yourself should also tell me
What your race, and what your nation,
And from what vile stock you issue."

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Told his name without concealment,
And began to speak as follows:

"Youth, if you are Joukahainen,
You should move aside a little,
For remember: you are younger."

(700 words)

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