Kalevala: Väinämöinen and the Mistress of Pohjola (cont.)

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

Runo 7: Väinämöinen and the Mistress of Pohjola (cont.)
(see previous page for audio)

There stood Väinämöinen weeping,
There stood weeping and lamenting,
On the borders of the ocean,
On a land whose name he knew not,
With a hundred wounds upon him,
By a thousand winds belaboured,
And his beard was much disordered,
And his hair was all entangled.

Thus he wept for two, and three nights,
For as many days stood weeping,
For the country round he knew not,
And no path could he discover,
Which perchance might lead him homeward,
Back to a familiar country,
To his own, his native country,
Where he passed his days aforetime.

But the little maid of Pohja,
Fair-haired damsel of the household,
With the sun had made agreement,
And both sun and moon had promised,
They would always rise together,
And they would awake together;
She herself arose before them,
Ere the sun or moon had risen,
Long before the time of cockcrow,
Or the chirping of a chicken.

From five sheep she shore the fleeces,
Clipped the wool from off six lambkins,
In her loom she wove the fleeces,
And the whole with care she carded,
Long before the dawn of morning,
Long before the sun had risen;
After this she washed the tables,
Swept the wide-extended flooring,
With the broom of twigs all leafless,
Then with broom of leafy branches;
Then the sweepings she collected
In the dustpan made of copper;
Out of doors she took the rubbish,
To the field beyond the farmyard,
To the field's extremest limit,
Where the lowest fence has opening.

There she stood upon the sweepings,
And she turned around, and listened;
From the lake she heard a weeping,
Sounds of woe across the river.

Quickly then she hastened homeward,
And she hurried to the parlour.
As she came, she told her tidings,
In such words as those which follow:
"From the lake I hear a weeping,
Sounds of woe across the river."

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Old and gap-toothed dame of Pohja,
Hastened forth into the farmyard,
Hurried to the fence's opening,
Where she bent her ear to listen,
And she spoke the words which follow:
"This is not like childhood's weeping
Nor like women's lamentation,
But a bearded hero weeping;
Thus weep men whose chins are bearded."

Three planks high, the boat was builded,
Which she pushed into the water,
And herself began to row it,
And she rowed, and hastened onward
To the spot where Väinämöinen,
Where the hero was lamenting.

There was Väinämöinen weeping,
There Uvanto's swain lamented,
By the dreary clumps of willow,
By the tangled hedge of cherry;
Moved his mouth, his beard was shaking,
But his lips he did not open.

Then did Pohjola's old Mistress,
Speak unto, and thus addressed him:
"O thou aged man unhappy,
Thou art in a foreign country!"

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Lifted up his head and answered
In the very words that follow:
"True it is, and well I know it,
I am in a foreign country,
Absolutely unfamiliar;
I was better in my country,
Greater in the home I came from."

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Answered in the words which follow:
"In the first place you must tell me,
If I may make bold to ask you,
From what race you take your lineage,
And from what heroic nation?"

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow:
"Well my name was known aforetime,
And in former days was famous,
Ever cheerful in the evening,
Ever singing in the valleys,
There in Väinölä's sweet meadows,
And on Kalevala's broad heathlands,
But my grief is now so heavy
That I know myself no longer."

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Answered in the words which follow:
"Rise, O man, from out the marshes,
Hero, seek another pathway:
Tell me now of thy misfortunes,
And relate me thy adventure."

Thus she made him cease his weeping,
Made the hero cease lamenting,
And into her boat she took him,
Bade him at the stern be seated,
And herself resumed the oars,
And she then began to row him
Unto Pohjola, o'er water,
And she brought him to her dwelling.

Then she fed the famished stranger,
And she dried his dripping garments;
Then she rubbed his limbs all stiffened,
And she warmed him and shampooed him,
Till she had restored his vigour,
And the hero had recovered.

(700 words)

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