The Kalevala - Rune VI

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Wainamoinen, old and truthful,
Now arranges for a journey
To the village of the Northland,
To the land of cruel winters,
To the land of little sunshine,
To the land of worthy women;
Takes his light-foot, royal racer,
Then adjusts the golden bridle,
Lays upon his back the saddle,
Silver-buckled, copper-stirruped,
Seats himself upon his courser,
And begins his journey northward;
Plunges onward, onward, onward,
Galloping along the highway,
In his saddle, gaily fashioned,
On his dappled steed of magic,
Plunging through Wainola's meadows,
O'er the plains of Kalevala.
Fast and far he galloped onward,
Galloped far beyond Wainola,
Bounded o'er the waste of waters,
Till he reached the blue-sea's margin,
Wetting not the hoofs in running.
But the evil Youkahainen
Nursed a grudge within his bosom,
In his heart the worm of envy,
Envy of this Wainamoinen,
Of this wonderful enchanter.
He prepares a cruel cross-bow,
Made of steel and other metals,
Paints the bow in many colors,
Molds the top-piece out or copper,
Trims his bow with snowy silver,
Gold he uses too in trimming,
Then he hunts for strongest sinews,
Finds them in the stag of Hisi,
Interweaves the flax of Lempo.
Ready is the cruel cross-bow,
String, and shaft, and ends are finished,
Beautiful the bow and mighty,
Surely cost it not a trifle;
On the back a painted courser,
On each end a colt of beauty,
Near the curve a maiden sleeping
Near the notch a hare is bounding,
Wonderful the bow thus fashioned;
Cuts some arrows for his quiver,
Covers them with finest feathers,
From the oak the shafts be fashions,
Makes the tips of keenest metal.
As the rods and points are finished,
Then he feathers well his arrows
From the plumage of the swallow,
From the wing-quills of the sparrow;
Hardens well his feathered arrows,
And imparts to each new virtues,
Steeps them in the blood of serpents,
In the virus of the adder.
Ready now are all his arrows,
Ready strung, his cruel cross-bow.
Waiting for wise Wainamoinen.
Youkahainen, Lapland's minstrel,
Waits a long time, is not weary,
Hopes to spy the ancient singer;
Spies at day-dawn, spies at evening,
Spies he ceaselessly at noontide,
Lies in wait for the magician,
Waits, and watches, as in envy;
Sits he at the open window,
Stands behind the hedge, and watches
In the foot-path waits, and listens,
Spies along the balks of meadows;
On his back he hangs his quiver,
In his quiver, feathered arrows
Dipped in virus of the viper,
On his arm the mighty cross-bow,
Waits, and watches, and unwearied,
Listens from the boat-house window,
Lingers at the end of Fog-point,
By the river flowing seaward,
Near the holy stream and whirlpool,
Near the sacred river's fire-fall.
Finally the Lapland minstrel,
Youkahainen of Pohyola,
At the breaking of the day-dawn,
At the early hour of morning,
Fixed his gaze upon the North-east,
Turned his eyes upon the sunrise,
Saw a black cloud on the ocean,
Something blue upon the waters,
And soliloquized as follows:
"Are those clouds on the horizon,
Or perchance the dawn of morning?
Neither clouds on the horizon,
Nor the dawning of the morning;
It is ancient Wainamoinen,
The renowned and wise enchanter,
Riding on his way to Northland;
On his steed, the royal racer,
Magic courser of Wainola."
Quickly now young Youkahainen,
Lapland's vain and evil minstrel,
Filled with envy, grasps his cross-bow,
Makes his bow and arrows ready
For the death of Wainamoinen.
Quick his aged mother asked him,
Spake these words to Youkahainen:
"For whose slaughter is thy cross-bow,
For whose heart thy poisoned arrows?"
Youkahainen thus made answer:
"I have made this mighty cross-bow,
Fashioned bow and poisoned arrows
For the death of Wainamoinen,
Thus to slay the friend of waters;
I must shoot the old magician,
The eternal bard and hero,
Through the heart, and through the liver,
Through the head, and through the shoulders,
With this bow and feathered arrows
Thus destroy my rival minstrel."
Then the aged mother answered,
Thus reproving, thus forbidding.
Do not slay good Wainamoinen,
Ancient hero of the Northland,
From a noble tribe descended,
He, my sister's son, my nephew.
If thou slayest Wainamoinen,
Ancient son of Kalevala,
Then alas! all joy will vanish,
Perish all our wondrous singing;
Better on the earth the gladness,
Better here the magic music,
Than within the nether regions,
In the kingdom of Tuoni,
In the realm of the departed,
In the land of the hereafter."
Then the youthful Youkahainen
Thought awhile and well considered,
Ere he made a final answer.
With one hand he raised the cross-bow
But the other seemed to weaken,
As he drew the cruel bow-string.
Finally these words he uttered
As his bosom swelled with envy:
"Let all joy forever vanish,
Let earth's pleasures quickly perish,
Disappear earth's sweetest music,
Happiness depart forever;
Shoot I will this rival minstrel,
Little heeding what the end is."
Quickly now he bends his fire-bow,
On his left knee rests the weapon,
With his right foot firmly planted,
Thus he strings his bow of envy;
Takes three arrows from his quiver,
Choosing well the best among them,
Carefully adjusts the bow-string,
Sets with care the feathered arrow,
To the flaxen string he lays it,
Holds the cross-bow to his shoulder,
Aiming well along the margin,
At the heart of Wainamoinen,
Waiting till he gallops nearer;
In the shadow of a thicket,
Speaks these words while he is waiting
"Be thou, flaxen string, elastic;
Swiftly fly, thou feathered ash-wood,
Swiftly speed, thou deadly missile,
Quick as light, thou poisoned arrow,
To the heart of Wainamoinen.
If my hand too low should hold thee,
May the gods direct thee higher;
If too high mine eye should aim thee,
May the gods direct thee lower."
Steady now he pulls the trigger;
Like the lightning flies the arrow
O'er the head of Wainamoinen;
To the upper sky it darteth,
And the highest clouds it pierces,
Scatters all the flock of lamb-clouds,
On its rapid journey skyward.
Not discouraged, quick selecting,
Quick adjusting, Youkahainen,
Quickly aiming shoots a second.
Speeds the arrow swift as lightning;
Much too low he aimed the missile,
Into earth the arrow plunges,
Pierces to the lower regions,
Splits in two the old Sand Mountain.
Nothing daunted, Youkahainen,
Quick adjusting shoots a third one.
Swift as light it speeds its journey,
Strikes the steed of Wainamoinen,
Strikes the light-foot, ocean-swimmer,
Strikes him near his golden girdle,
Through the shoulder of the racer.
Thereupon wise Wainamoinen
Headlong fell upon the waters,
Plunged beneath the rolling billows,
From the saddle of the courser,
From his dappled steed of magic.
Then arose a mighty storm-wind,
Roaring wildly on the waters,
Bore away old Wainamoinen
Far from land upon the billows,
On the high and rolling billows,
On the broad sea's great expanses.
Boasted then young Youkahainen,
Thinking Waino dead and buried,
These the boastful words be uttered:
"Nevermore, old Wainamoinen,
Nevermore in all thy life-time,
While the golden moonlight glistens,
Nevermore wilt fix thy vision
On the meadows of Wainola,
On the plains of Kalevala;
Full six years must swim the ocean,
Tread the waves for seven summers,
Eight years ride the foamy billows,
In the broad expanse of water;
Six long autumns as a fir-tree,
Seven winters as a pebble;
Eight long summers as an aspen."
Thereupon the Lapland minstrel
Hastened to his room delighting,
When his mother thus addressed him
"Hast thou slain good Wainamoinen,
Slain the son of Kalevala?"
Youkahainen thus made answer:
"I have slain old Wainamoinen,
Slain the son of Kalevala,
That he now may plow the ocean,
That he now may sweep the waters,
On the billows rock and slumber.
In the salt-sea plunged he headlong,
In the deep sank the magician,
Sidewise turned he to the sea-shore
On his back to rock forever,
Thus the boundless sea to travel,
Thus to ride the rolling billows."
This the answer of the mother:
"Woe to earth for this thine action,
Gone forever, joy and singing,
Vanished is the wit of ages!
Thou hast slain good Wainamoinen.
Slain the ancient wisdom-singer,
Slain the pride of Suwantala,
Slain the hero of Wainola,
Slain the joy of Kalevala."

© Elias Lönnrot