The Kalevala - Rune XLI

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Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
The eternal wisdom-singer,
Laves his hands to snowy whiteness,
Sits upon the rock of joyance,
On the stone of song be settles,
On the mount of silver clearness,
On the summit, golden colored;
Takes the harp by him created,
In his hands the harp of fish-bone,
With his knee the arch supporting,
Takes the harp-strings in his fingers,
Speaks these words to those assembled:
"Hither come, ye Northland people,
Come and listen to my playing,
To the harp's entrancing measures,
To my songs of joy and gladness."
Then the singer of Wainola
Took the harp of his creation,
Quick adjusting, sweetly tuning,
Deftly plied his skillful fingers
To the strings that he had fashioned.
Now was gladness rolled on gladness,
And the harmony of pleasure
Echoed from the hills and mountains:
Added singing to his playing,
Out of joy did joy come welling,
Now resounded marvelous music,
All of Northland stopped and listened.
Every creature in the forest,
All the beasts that haunt the woodlands,
On their nimble feet came bounding,
Came to listen to his playing,
Came to hear his songs of joyance.
Leaped the squirrels from the branches,
Merrily from birch to aspen;
Climbed the ermines on the fences,
O'er the plains the elk-deer bounded,
And the lynxes purred with pleasure;
Wolves awoke in far-off swamp-lands,
Bounded o'er the marsh and heather,
And the bear his den deserted,
Left his lair within the pine-wood,
Settled by a fence to listen,
Leaned against the listening gate-posts,
But the gate-posts yield beneath him;
Now he climbs the fir-tree branches
That he may enjoy and wonder,
Climbs and listens to the music
Of the harp of Wainamoinen.
Tapiola's wisest senior,
Metsola's most noble landlord,
And of Tapio, the people,
Young and aged, men and maidens,
Flew like red-deer up the mountains
There to listen to the playing,
To the harp, of Wainamoinen.
Tapiola's wisest mistress,
Hostess of the glen and forest,
Robed herself in blue and scarlet,
Bound her limbs with silken ribbons,
Sat upon the woodland summit,
On the branches of a birch-tree,
There to listen to the playing,
To the high-born hero's harping,
To the songs of Wainamoinen.
All the birds that fly in mid-air
Fell like snow-flakes from the heavens,
Flew to hear the minstrel's playing,
Hear the harp of Wainamoinen.
Eagles in their lofty eyrie
Heard the songs of the enchanter;
Swift they left their unfledged young ones,
Flew and perched around the minstrel.
From the heights the hawks descended,
From the, clouds down swooped the falcon,
Ducks arose from inland waters,
Swans came gliding from the marshes;
Tiny finches, green and golden,
Flew in flocks that darkened sunlight,
Came in myriads to listen '
Perched upon the head and shoulders
Of the charming Wainamoinen,
Sweetly singing to the playing
Of the ancient bard and minstrel.
And the daughters of the welkin,
Nature's well-beloved daughters,
Listened all in rapt attention;
Some were seated on the rainbow,
Some upon the crimson cloudlets,
Some upon the dome of heaven.
In their hands the Moon's fair daughters
Held their weaving-combs of silver;
In their hands the Sun's sweet maidens
Grasped the handles of their distaffs,
Weaving with their golden shuttles,
Spinning from their silver spindles,
On the red rims of the cloudlets,
On the bow of many colors.
As they hear the minstrel playing,
Hear the harp of Wainamoinen,
Quick they drop their combs of silver,
Drop the spindles from their fingers,
And the golden threads are broken,
Broken are the threads of silver.
All the fish in Suomi-waters
Heard the songs of the magician,
Came on flying fins to listen
To the harp of Wainamoinen.
Came the trout with graceful motions,
Water-dogs with awkward movements,
From the water-cliffs the salmon,
From the sea-caves came the whiting,
From the deeper caves the bill-fish;
Came the pike from beds of sea-fern,
Little fish with eyes of scarlet,
Leaning on the reeds and rushes,
With their heads above the surface;
Came to bear the harp of joyance,
Hear the songs of the enchanter.
Ahto, king of all the waters,
Ancient king with beard of sea-grass,
Raised his head above the billows,
In a boat of water-lilies,
Glided to the coast in silence,
Listened to the wondrous singing,
To the harp of Wainamoinen.
These the words the sea-king uttered:
"Never have I heard such playing,
Never heard such strains of music,
Never since the sea was fashioned,
As the songs of this enchanter,
This sweet singer, Wainamoinen."
Satko's daughters from the blue-deep,
Sisters of the wave-washed ledges,
On the colored strands were sitting,
Smoothing out their sea-green tresses
With the combs of molten silver,
With their silver-handled brushes,
Brushes forged with golden bristles.
When they hear the magic playing,
Hear the harp of Wainamoinen,
Fall their brushes on the billows,
Fall their combs with silver handles
To the bottom of the waters,
Unadorned their heads remaining,
And uncombed their sea-green tresses.
Came the hostess of the waters,
Ancient hostess robed in flowers,
Rising from her deep sea-castle,
Swimming to the shore in wonder,
Listened to the minstrel's playing,
To the harp of Wainamoinen.
As the magic tones re-echoed,
As the singer's song out-circled,
Sank the hostess into slumber,
On the rocks of many colors,
On her watery couch of joyance,
Deep the sleep that settled o'er her.
Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
Played one day and then a second,
Played the third from morn till even.
There was neither man nor hero,
Neither ancient dame, nor maiden,
Not in Metsola a daughter,
Whom he did not touch to weeping;
Wept the young, and wept the aged,
Wept the mothers, wept the daughters
Wept the warriors and heroes
At the music of his playing,
At the songs of the magician.
Wainamoinen's tears came flowing,
Welling from the master's eyelids,
Pearly tear-drops coursing downward,
Larger than the whortle-berries,
Finer than the pearls of ocean,
Smoother than the eggs of moor-hens,
Brighter than the eyes of swallows.
From his eves the tear-drops started,
Flowed adown his furrowed visage,
Falling from his beard in streamlets,
Trickled on his heaving bosom,
Streaming o'er his golden girdle,
Coursing to his garment's border,
Then beneath his shoes of ermine,
Flowing on, and flowing ever,
Part to earth for her possession,
Part to water for her portion.
As the tear-drops fall and mingle,
Form they streamlets from the eyelids
Of the minstrel, Wainamoinen,
To the blue-mere's sandy margin,
To the deeps of crystal waters,
Lost among the reeds and rushes.
Spake at last the ancient minstrel:
"Is there one in all this concourse,
One in all this vast assembly
That can gather up my tear-drops
From the deep, pellucid waters?"
Thus the younger heroes answered,
Answered thus the bearded seniors:
"There is none in all this concourse,
None in all this vast assembly,
That can gather up thy tear-drops
From the deep, pellucid waters."
Spake again wise Wainamoinen:
"He that gathers up my tear-drops
From the deeps of crystal waters
Shall receive a beauteous plumage."
Came a raven, flying, croaking,
And the minstrel thus addressed him:
"Bring, O raven, bring my tear-drops
From the crystal lake's abysses;
I will give thee beauteous plumage,
Recompense for golden service."
But the raven failed his master.
Came a duck upon the waters,
And the hero thus addressed him:
"Bring O water-bird, my tear-drops;
Often thou dost dive the deep-sea,
Sink thy bill upon the bottom
Of the waters thou dost travel;
Dive again my tears to gather,
I will give thee beauteous plumage,
Recompense for golden service."
Thereupon the duck departed,
Hither, thither, swam, and circled,
Dived beneath the foam and billow,
Gathered Wainamoinen's tear-drops
From the blue-sea's pebbly bottom,
From the deep, pellucid waters;
Brought them to the great magician,
Beautifully formed and colored,
Glistening in the silver sunshine,
Glimmering in the golden moonlight,
Many-colored as the rainbow,
Fitting ornaments for heroes,
Jewels for the maids of beauty.
This the origin of sea-pearls,
And the blue-duck's beauteous plumage.

© Elias Lönnrot