Finnish Legends for English Children
by R. Eivind
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(Others in the Press.)






The following stories cover almost all of the songs of the Kalevala, the epic of the Finnish people. They will lead the English child into a new region in the fairy world, yet one where he will recognise many an old friend in a new form. The very fact that they do open up a new portion of the world of the marvellous, will, it is hoped, render them all the more acceptable, and perhaps, when the child who reads them grows up to manhood, will inspire an actual interest in the race that has composed them.

And this race and their land will repay study, for nowhere will one find a more beautiful land than Finland, nor a braver, truer, and more liberty-loving people than the Finns, although, alas, their love for liberty may soon be reduced to an apparently hopeless longing for a lost ideal. For the iron hand of Russian despotism has already begun to close on Finland with its relentless grasp, and, in spite of former oaths and promises from the Russian Tsars, the future of Finland looks blacker and blacker as time goes on. Yet it is often the unforeseen that happens, and let us trust that this may be so in Finland's case, and that a brighter future may soon dawn, and the dark clouds that now are threatening may be once more dispersed.

* * * * *

In these stories Mr. T. M. Crawford's metrical translation of the Kalevala has been quite closely followed, even to the adoption of his Anglicised, or rather Anglo-Swedish, forms for proper names, though in some instances the original Finnish form has been reverted to. This was done reluctantly, but the actual Finnish forms would seem formidable to children in many instances, and would probably be pronounced even farther from the original than as they are given here. It is to be hoped, moreover, that those who may now read these stories will later on read an actual translation of the Kalevala, and this is an additional reason for adopting the terminology of the only English translation as yet made.[1]

[1] A Finnish newspaper recently states that Mr. C. is now at work on an improved translation.

As this book is only intended for children, it would be out of place to discuss the age, etc., of the Kalevala. Only it would seem proper to state, that while the incantations and some other portions of the text are certainly very old, some of them no doubt dating from a period prior to the separation of the Finns and Hungarians, yet, as Professor Yrjoe Koskinen remarks, "The Kalevala in its present state is without doubt the work of the Karelian tribe of Finns, and probably dates from after their arrival in Northern and North-Western Russia." This will of itself largely justify the making Kalevala synonymous with the present Finland, Pohjola with the present Lapland, Karjala with the present Karjala (Anglice, Karelia) in South-Eastern Finland, etc. But even if this were not so, yet the advantage of such localisation in a book for children is of itself obvious.

As the land and people with which the stories are concerned is so unknown to English children, it has seemed best to have some sort of introduction and framework in which to present them, and therefore "Father Mikko" was chosen as the story-teller.

If this little volume may in any degree awake some interest in the Finnish people its author will be amply satisfied, and its end will have been attained.


April 1893.









































Ahti (ach'-tee). Another name for Lemminkainen.

Ahto (ach'-to). God of the sea.

Ainikki (ae'nik-kee). Sister of Lemminkainen.

Aino (ae'no). Sister of Youkahainen.

Annikki (an'-nik-kee). Sister of Ilmarinen.

Hisi (hee'-see). Evil spirit; also called Lempo.

Iku Turso (ee'-koo-tur'-so). A sea-monster.

Ilmarinen (il'-ma-ree'-nen). The famous smith.

Ilmatar (il'-ma-tar). A daughter of the ether, mother of Wainamoinen.

Imatra (ee'-ma-tra). Celebrated waterfall on the river Wuoksi, near Viborg.

Kalerwoinen (kal'-er-woi'-nen) (or Kalervo). Father of Kullervo.

Kalevala (ka'-lay-va'-la). The land of heroes. The home of the Finns. The name of the Finnish epic poem.

Karjala (kar'-ya-la). The home of a Finnish tribe—a portion of Finland (called also Karelen in Swedish).

Kullervo (kul'-ler-vo). Slayer of the Rainbow-maiden.

Kura (ku'-ra). Ahti's companion to the Northland.

Lakko (lak'-ko). Ilmarinen's mother.

Lemminkainen (lem'-min-kae'-nen). Also called Ahti. Son of Lempo.

Lempo (lem'-po). Same as Hisi; also the father of Lemminkainen.

Louhi (loo'-chee). Mistress of Pohjola.

Lowjatar (low'-ya-tar). Tuoni's daughter; mother of the nine diseases.

Lylikki (ly'-lik-kee). Maker of snow-shoes in Pohjola.

Mana (ma'-na). Also called Tuoni; god of death.

Manala (ma'-na-la). Also called Tuonela; the abode of Mana; the Deathland.

Mariatta (Mar'-iat'-ta). The virgin mother of Wainamoinen's conqueror.

Mielikki (meay'-lik-kee). The forest-goddess.

Osmotar (os'-mo-tar). The wise maiden who first made beer.

Otso (ot'-so). The bear.

Piltti (pilt'-tee). Mariatta's maid-servant.

Pohjola (poch'-yo-la). The Northland.

Ruotus (ru-o'-tus). A man who gives Mariatta shelter in his stable.

Sampo (sam'-po). The magic mill forged by Ilmarinen, which brought wealth and happiness to its possessor.

Suonetar (swo'-ne-tar). The goddess of the veins.

Suoyatar (swo'-ya-tar). The mother of the serpent.

Tapio (ta'-pe-o). The forest-god.

Tuonela (tuo'-nay-la). The abode of Tuoni; the Deathland; Manala.

Tuonetar (tuo'-nay-tar). The goddess of Tuonela.

Tuoni (tuo'-nee). The god of the Deathland; Mana.

Ukko (uk'-k(o). The greatest god of the Finns.

Untamo (un'-ta-mo). Kalervo's brother.

Wainamoinen (wae'-na-moy'-nen). The chief hero of the Kalevala; son of Kape.

Wipunen (wi'-pu-nen). The dead magician from whom Wainamoinen obtained the three lost words.

Wirokannas (wee'-ro-kan'-nas). The priest who baptized Mariatta's son.

Wuoksi (wuok'-see). A river in South-Eastern Finland, connecting Lakes Saima and Ladoga.

Youkahainen (yoo'-ka-chae'-nen). A great minstrel and magician of Pohjola.

* * * * *

Remarks.—The Finnish h is pronounced as a guttural; nearly as Ger. ch in ich. This is represented by ch in the above list.

Every vowel should be pronounced by itself—not run together so as to make a totally different resultant sound, e.g. Aino should be pronounced not i-no, but a'-ee-no, the a and ee being close together, with the greatest stress upon the a, etc.

i corresponds to English y in year.


FINNISH KOTA Frontispiece








Far up in the ice-bound north, where the sun is almost invisible in winter, and where the summer nights are bright as day, there lies a land which we call Finland; but the people who live there call it Suomenmaa now, and long, long ago they used to call it Kalevala (which means the land of heroes). And north of Finland lies Lapland, which the Finns now call Lappi, but in the olden days they called it Pohjola (that is, Northland). There the night lasts for whole weeks and months about Christmas, and in the summer again they have no night at all for many weeks. For more than half the year their country is wrapped in snow and frost, and yet they are both of them a kind-hearted people, and among the most honest and truthful in the world.

* * * * *

One dark winter's day an old man was driving in a sledge through the fir forest in the northern part of Finland. He was so well wrapped up in sheep-skin robes that he looked more like a huge bundle of rugs, with a cord round the middle, than anything else, and the great white sheep-skin cap which he wore hid all the upper part of his face, while the lower part was buried in the high collar of his coat. All one could see was a pair of bright blue eyes with frost-fringed eyelashes, blinking at the snow that was thrown up every now and then by his horse's feet.

He was a travelling merchant from away up in the north-western part of Russia, and had been in southern Finland to sell his wares, at the winter fairs that are held every year in the Finnish towns and villages. Now he was on his way home, and had come up through Kuopio, and had got on past Kajana already, but now it had just begun to snow, and as the storm grew worse, he pressed on to reach the cabin of a friend who lived not far ahead; and he intended to stay there until the storm should subside and the weather be fit for travelling once more.

It was not long before he reached the cabin, and getting out of his sledge slowly, being stiff from the cold and the cramped position, he knocked on the door with his whip-handle. It was opened at once, and he was invited in without even waiting to see who it was, and was given the welcome that is always given in that country to a wearied traveller. But when he had taken his wraps off there was a general cry of recognition, and a second even more hearty welcome.

'Welcome, Father Mikko!'

'What good fortune has brought you hither?'

'Come up to the fire,' and a chorus of cries from two little children, who greeted 'Pappa Mikko' with delight as an old and welcome acquaintance. Then the father of the family went out and attended to Father Mikko's horse and sledge, and in a few minutes was back again and joined the old man by the fire. Next his wife brought out the brandy-bottle and two glasses, and after her husband had filled them, he and Father Mikko drank each other's health very formally, for that is the first thing one must do when a guest comes in that country. You must touch your glass against your friend's, and say 'good health,' and raising it to your lips drink it straight off, and all the time you must look each other straight in the eyes.

When this important formality was finished the four members of the family and Father Mikko made themselves comfortable around the fire, and they began to ask him how things had prospered with him since they had seen him last, and to tell him about themselves—how Erik, the father of the family, had been sick, and the harvest had been extra good that year, and one of the cows had a calf, and all the things that happen to people in the country.

And then he told them of what was going on in the towns where he had been, and how every one was beginning to get ready for Christmas. And he turned to the two little children and told them about the children in the towns—how they had had such a lovely time at 'Little Christmas,'[2] at the house he was staying in. How the little ones had a tiny little tree with wee wax candles on it exactly like the big tree they were to have at Christmas, and how, when he left, all the children had begun to be impatient for Christmas Eve, with its presents and Christmas fish and porridge.

[2] A children's festival about one week before the real Christmas.

After the old man had ended his account it was dinner-time, and they all ate with splendid appetites, while Father Mikko declared that the herring and potatoes and rye-bread and beer made a far better dinner than any he had had in the big cities in the south—not even in Helsingfors had he had a better. Then when dinner was over, and they had all gathered round the fire again, little Mimi climbed up into 'Pappa Mikko's' lap, and begged him to tell them 'all the stories he had ever heard, from the very beginning of the world all the way down.' And her father and mother joined with her in her request, for in their land even the grown-up people have not become too grand to listen to stories. As for the little boy, Antero, he was too shy to say anything; but he was so much interested to hear 'Pappa Mikko' that he actually forgot to nibble away at a piece of candy which 'Pappa Mikko' had brought from St. Michel.

The old man smiled, for he was always asked for stories wherever he went—he was a famous story-teller—and, stroking little Mimi's hair gently, he looked at the group around the fire before replying. There was Erik, the father, a broad-shouldered man, with a dark, weather-beaten face and rather a sad look, as so many of his countrymen have. His face showed that his struggle in the world had not been easy, for he had to be working from the time he got up until he went to bed; and then when the harvest had been bad, and the winter much longer than usual, and everything seemed to go wrong—ah! it was so hard then to see the mother and the little ones have only bark-bread to eat, and not always enough of that, and one winter they had had nothing else for months. Erik wouldn't have minded for himself, but for them ...! Ah well, that was all over now; he had been able at last to save up a little sum of money, and the harvests were extra good this year, and he had bought Mother Stina a cloak for Christmas! Just think of it—a fine cloak, all the way from the fair at Kuopio!

And next to Erik sat his wife Stina, a short, fat little woman, with such a merry face and happy-looking eyes that you could hardly believe that she had lived on anything but the best herring and potatoes and rye-bread all her life. Close by her side was her little boy Antero, who was only seven years old, and in his eagerness for the stories to commence he still held his piece of candy in his hand without tasting it.

Then there was little Mimi in Father Mikko's lap. She was nearly ten years old, and was not a pretty little girl; but she had very lovely soft brown eyes and curly flaxen hair, and a quiet, demure manner of her own, and her mother declared that when she grew up she would be able to spin and weave and cook better than any other girl in the parish, and that the young man that should get her Mimi for a wife would get a real treasure.

And lastly, there was Father Mikko himself, an old man over sixty, yet strong and hearty, with a long gray beard and gray hair, and eyes that fairly twinkled with good humour. You could hardly see his mouth for his beard and moustache, and certainly his nose was a little too small and turned up at the end to be exactly handsome, and his cheek-bones did stand out a little too high; but yet everybody, young and old, liked him, and his famous stories made him a welcome guest wherever he came.

So Father Mikko lit his queer little pipe, and settled down comfortably with Mimi in his lap, and a glass of beer at his side to refresh himself with when he grew weary of talking. There was only the firelight in the room, and as the flames roared up the chimney they cast a warm, cosy light over the whole room, and made them all feel so comfortable that they thanked God in their hearts in their simple way, because they had so many blessings and comforts when such a storm was raging outside that it shook the house and drifted the snow up higher than the doors and windows.

Then Father Mikko began, and this is the first story that he told them.

* * * * *


Long, long ago, before this world was made, there lived a lovely maiden called Ilmatar, the daughter of the Ether. She lived in the air—there were only air and water then—but at length she grew tired of always being in the air, and came down and floated on the surface of the water. Suddenly, as she lay there, there came a mighty storm-wind, and poor Ilmatar was tossed about helplessly on the waves, until at length the wind died down and the waves became still, and Ilmatar, worn out by the violence of the tempest, sank beneath the waters.

Then a magic spell overpowered her, and she swam on and on vainly seeking to rise above the waters, but always unable to do so. Seven hundred long weary years she swam thus, until one day she could not bear it any longer, and cried out: 'Woe is me that I have fallen from my happy home in the air, and cannot now rise above the surface of the waters. O great Ukko,[3] ruler of the skies, come and aid me in my sorrow!'

[3] The chief god of the Finns before they became Christians.

No sooner had she ended her appeal to Ukko than a lovely duck flew down out of the sky, and hovered over the waters looking for a place to alight; but it found none. Then Ilmatar raised her knees above the water, so that the duck might rest upon them; and no sooner did the duck spy them than it flew towards them and, without even stopping to rest, began to build a nest upon them.

When the nest was finished, the duck laid in it six golden eggs, and a seventh of iron, and sat upon them to hatch them. Three days the duck sat on the eggs, and all the while the water around Ilmatar's knees grew hotter and hotter, and her knees began to burn as if they were on fire. The pain was so great that it caused her to tremble all over, and her quivering shook the nest off her knees, and the eggs all fell to the bottom of the ocean and broke in pieces. But these pieces came together into two parts and grew to a huge size, and the upper one became the arched heavens above us, and the lower one our world itself. From the white part of the egg came the moonbeams, and from the yolk the bright sunshine.

At last the unfortunate Ilmatar was able to raise her head out of the waters, and she then began to create the land. Wherever she put her hand there arose a lovely hill, and where she stepped she made a lake. Where she dived below the surface are the deep places of the ocean, where she turned her head towards the land there grew deep bays and inlets, and where she floated on her back she made the hidden rocks and reefs where so many ships and lives have been lost. Thus the islands and the rocks and the firm land were created.

After the land was made Wainamoinen was born, but he was not born a child, but a full-grown man, full of wisdom and magic power. For seven whole years he swam about in the ocean, and in the eighth he left the water and stepped upon the dry land. Thus was the birth of Wainamoinen, the wonderful magician.

* * * * *

'Ah!' said little Mimi, with a sigh of relief, 'I was afraid you weren't going to tell us about Wainamoinen at all.'

And then Father Mikko went on again.


Wainamoinen lived for many years upon the island on which he had first landed from the sea, pondering how he should plant the trees and make the mighty forests grow. At length he thought of Sampsa, the first-born son of the plains, and he sent for him to do the sowing. So Sampsa came and scattered abroad the seeds of all the trees and plants that are now on the earth,—firs and pine-trees on the hills, alders, lindens, and willows in the lowlands, and bushes and hawthorn in the secluded nooks.

Soon all the trees had grown up and become great forests, and the hawthorns were covered with berries. Only the acorn lay quiet in the ground and refused to sprout. Wainamoinen watched seven days and nights to see if it would begin to grow, but it lay perfectly still. Just then he saw ocean maidens on the shore, cutting grass and raking it into heaps. And as he watched them there came a great giant out of the sea and pressed the heaps into such tight bundles that the grass caught fire and burnt to ashes. Then the giant took an acorn and planted it in the ashes, and almost instantly it began to sprout, and a tree shot up and grew and grew until it became a mighty oak, whose top was far above the clouds, and whose branches shut out the light of the Sun and the Moon and the stars.

When Wainamoinen saw how the oak had shut off all the light from the earth, he was as deeply perplexed how to get rid of it, as he had been before to make it grow. So he prayed to his mother Ilmatar to grant him power to overthrow this mighty tree, so that the sun might shine once more on the plains of Kalevala.

No sooner had he asked Ilmatar for help than there stepped out of the sea a tiny man no bigger than one's finger, dressed in cap, gloves, and clothes of copper, and carrying a small copper hatchet in his belt. Wainamoinen asked him who he was, and the tiny man replied: 'I am a mighty ocean-hero, and am come to cut down the oak-tree.' But Wainamoinen began to laugh at the idea of so little a man being able to cut down so huge a tree.

But even while Wainamoinen was laughing, the dwarf grew all at once into a great giant, whose head was higher than the clouds, and whose long beard fell down to his knees. The giant began to whet his axe on a huge piece of rock, and before he had finished he had worn out six blocks of the hardest rock and seven of the softest sandstone. Then he strode up to the tree and began to cut it down. When the third blow had fallen the fire flew from his axe and from the tree; and before he had time to strike a fourth blow, the tree tottered and fell, covering the whole earth, north, south, east, and west, with broken fragments. And those who picked up pieces of the branches received good fortune; those who found pieces of the top became mighty magicians; and those who found the leaves gained lasting happiness.

And then the sunlight came once more to Kalevala, and all things grew and flourished, only the barley had not yet been planted. Now Wainamoinen had found seven magic barley-grains as he was wandering on the seashore one day, and he took these and was about to plant them; but the titmouse stopped him, saying: 'The magic barley will not grow unless thou first cut down and burn the forest, and then plant the seeds in the wood-ashes.'

So Wainamoinen cut down the trees as the titmouse had said, only he left the birch-trees standing. After all the rest were cut down an eagle flew down, and, alighting on a birch-tree, asked why all the others had been destroyed, but the birches left. And Wainamoinen answered that he had left them for the birds to build their nests on, and for the eagle to rest on, and for the sacred cuckoo to sit in and sing. The eagle was so pleased at this that he kindled a fire amongst the other trees for Wainamoinen, and they were all burnt except the birches.

Wainamoinen then brought forth the seven magic barley-seeds from his skin-pouch, and sowed them in the ashes, and as he sowed he prayed to great Ukko to send warm rains from the south to make the seeds sprout. And the rain came, and the barley grew so fast that in seven days the crop was almost ripe.


Thus Wainamoinen finished his labours and began to lead a happy life on the plains of Kalevala. He passed his evenings singing of the deeds of days gone by and stories of the creation, until his fame as a great singer spread far and wide in all directions.

At this time, far off in the dismal Northland, there lived a young and famous singer and magician named Youkahainen. He was sitting one day at a feast with his friends, when some one came and told about the famous singer Wainamoinen, and how he was a sweeter singer and a more powerful magician than any one else in the world. This filled Youkahainen's heart with envy, and he vowed to hasten off to the south and to enter into a contest with Wainamoinen to see if he could not beat him.

His mother tried to persuade him not to go, but in vain, and he made ready for the journey, declaring that he would sing such magic songs as would turn old Wainamoinen into stone. Then he brought out his noble steed and harnessed him to a golden sledge, and then jumping in, he gave the steed a cut with his pearl-handled whip, and dashed off towards Kalevala. On the evening of the third day he drew near to Wainamoinen's home, and there he met Wainamoinen himself driving along the highway.

Now Youkahainen was too proud to turn out of the road for any one, and so their sledges dashed together and were smashed to pieces, and the harnesses became all twisted up together. Then Wainamoinen said: 'Who art thou, O foolish youth, that thou drivest so badly that thou hast run into my sledge and broken it to pieces?' And Youkahainen answered proudly: 'I am Youkahainen, and have come hither to beat the old magician Wainamoinen in singing and in magic.'

Wainamoinen then told him who he was, and accepted the challenge, and so the contest began. But Youkahainen soon found that he was no match for his opponent, and at length he cried out in anger: 'If I cannot beat thee at singing and in magic, at least I can conquer thee with my bright sword.'

Wainamoinen answered that he would not fight so weak an opponent, and then Youkahainen declared that he was a coward and afraid to fight. At last these taunts made Wainamoinen so angry that he could not restrain himself any longer, and he began to sing. He sang such wondrous spells that the mountains and the rocks began to tremble, and the sea was upheaved as if by a great storm. Youkahainen stood transfixed, and as Wainamoinen went on singing his sledge was changed to brushwood and the reins to willow branches, the pearl-handled whip became a reed, and his steed was transformed into a rock in the water, and all the harness into seaweed. And still the old magician sang his magic spells, and Youkahainen's gaily-painted bow became a rainbow in the sky, his feathered arrows flew away as hawks and eagles, and his dog was turned to a stone at his feet. His cap turned into a curling mist, his clothing into white clouds, and his jewel-set girdle into stars.

And at length the spell began to take effect on Youkahainen himself. Slowly, slowly he felt himself sinking into a quicksand, and all his struggles to escape were in vain. When he had sunk up to his waist he began to beg for mercy, and cried out: 'O great Wainamoinen, thou art the greatest of all magicians. Release me, I beg, from this quicksand, and I will give thee two magic bows. One is so strong that only the very strongest men can draw it, and the other a child can shoot.'

But Wainamoinen refused the bows and sank Youkahainen still deeper. And as he sank, Youkahainen kept begging for mercy, and offering first two magic boats, and then two magic steeds that could carry any burden, and finally all his gold and silver and his harvests, but Wainamoinen would not even listen to him. At length Youkahainen had sunk so far that his mouth began to be filled with water and mud, and he cried out as a last hope: 'O mighty Wainamoinen, if thou wilt release me I will give thee my sister Aino as thy bride.'

This was the ransom that Wainamoinen had been waiting for, for Aino was famous for her beauty and loveliness of character, and so he released poor Youkahainen and gave him back his sledge and everything just as it had been before. And when it was all ready Youkahainen jumped into it and drove off home without saying a word.

When he reached home he drove so carelessly that his sledge was broken to pieces against the gate-posts, and he left the broken sledge there and walked straight into the house with hanging head, and at first would not answer any of his family's questions. At length he said: 'Dearest mother, there is cause enough for my grief, for I have had to promise the aged Wainamoinen my dear sister Aino as his bride.' But his mother arose joyfully and clapped her hands and said: 'That is no reason to be sad, my dear son, for I have longed for many years that this very thing should happen—that Aino should have so brave and wise a husband as Wainamoinen.'

So the mother told the news to Aino, but when she heard it she wept for three whole days and nights and refused to be comforted, saying to her mother: 'Why should this great sorrow come to me, dear mother, for now I shall no longer be able to adorn my golden hair with jewels, but must hide it all beneath the ugly cap that wives have to wear. All the golden sunshine and the silver moonlight will go from my life.'

But her mother tried to comfort her by telling her that the sun and moon would shine even more brightly in her new home than in her old, and that Kalevala was a land of flowers.

* * * * *

'I think Aino was very stupid not to want to leave that horrid Lapland,' said Mimi; 'but then I suppose she didn't know what a beautiful country ours is,' she added thoughtfully.

Here Antero, who only cared for the stories, mustered up enough courage to ask Pappa Mikko to go on, which the old man did at once.


The next morning the lovely Aino went early to the forest to gather birch shoots and tassels. After she had finished gathering them she hastened off towards home, but as she was going along the path near the border of the woods she met Wainamoinen, who began thus:

'Aino, fairest maid of the north, do not wear thy gold and pearls for others, but only for me; wear for me alone thy golden tresses.'

'Not for thee,' Aino replied, 'nor for others either, will I wear my jewels. I need them no longer; I would rather wear the plainest clothing and live upon a crust of bread, if only I might live for ever with my mother.'

And as she said this she tore off her jewels and the ribbons from her hair, and threw them from her into the bushes, and then she hurried home, weeping. At the door of the dairy sat her mother, skimming milk. When she saw Aino weeping she asked her what it was that troubled her. Aino, in reply, told her all that had happened in the forest, and how she had thrown away from her all her ornaments.

Her mother, to comfort her, told her to go to a hill-top near by and open the storehouse there, and there in the largest room, in the largest box in that room, she would find six golden girdles and seven rainbow-tinted dresses, made by the daughters of the Moon and of the Sun. 'When I was young,' her mother said, 'I was out upon the hills one day seeking berries. And by chance I overheard the daughters of the Sun and Moon as they were weaving and spinning upon the borders of the clouds above the fir-forest. I went nearer to them, and crept up on a hill within speaking distance of them. Then I began to beseech them, saying: "Give some of your silver, lovely daughters of the Moon, to a poor but worthy maid; and I beg you, daughters of the Sun, give me some of your gold." And then the Moon's daughters gave me silver from their treasure, and the Sun's daughters gave me gold that I might adorn my hair and forehead. I hastened joyfully home with my treasures to my mother's house, and for three days I wore them. Then I took them off and laid them in boxes, and I have never seen them since. But now, my daughter, go and adorn thyself with gold and silk ribbons; put a necklace of pearls around thy neck, and a golden cross upon thy bosom; dress thyself in pure white linen; put on the richest frock that is there and tie it with a belt of gold; put silk stockings on thy feet and the finest of shoes. Then come back to us that we may admire thee, for thou wilt be more beautiful than the sunlight, more lovely than the moonbeams.'

But Aino would not be consoled, and kept on weeping. 'How happy I was in my childhood,' she sang, 'when I used to roam the fields and gather flowers, but now my heart is full of grief and all my life is filled with darkness. It would have been better for me if I had died a child;—then my mother would have wept a little, and my father and sisters and brothers mourned a little while, and then all their sorrow would have been ended.'

Aino wept for three days more, and then her mother once more asked her why she wept so, and Aino replied: 'I weep, O mother, because thou hast promised me to the aged Wainamoinen, to be his comforter and caretaker in his old age. Far better if thou hadst sent me to the bottom of the sea, to live with the fishes and to become a mermaid and ride on the waves. This had been far better than to be an old man's slave and darling.'

When she had said this she left her mother and hastened to the storehouse on the hill. There she opened the largest box and took off six lids, and at the bottom found six golden belts and seven silk dresses. She chose the best of all the treasures there and adorned herself like a queen, with rings and jewels and gold ornaments of every sort.

When she was fully arrayed she left the storehouse and wandered over fields and meadows and on through the dim and gloomy fir-forest, singing as she went: 'Woe is me, poor broken-hearted Aino! My grief is so heavy that I can no longer live. I must leave this earth and go to Manala, the country of departed spirits. Father, mother, brothers, sisters, weep for me no longer, for I am going to live beneath the sea, in the lovely grottos, on a couch of sea-moss.'

For three long weary days Aino wandered, and as the cold night came on she at last reached the seashore. There she sank down, weary, on a rock, and sat there alone in the black night, listening to the solemn music of the wind and the waves, as they sang her funeral melody. When at last the day dawned Aino beheld three water-maidens sitting on a rock by the sea. She hastened to them, weeping, and then began to take off all her ornaments and lay them carefully away. When at length she had laid all her gold and silver decorations on the ground, she took the ribbons from her hair and hung them in a tree, and then laid her silken dress over one of the branches and plunged into the sea. At a distance she saw a lovely rock of all the colours of the rainbow, shining in the golden sunlight. She swam up and climbed upon it to rest. But suddenly the rock began to sway, and with a loud crash it fell to the bottom of the sea, carrying with it the unhappy Aino. And as she sank down she sang a last sad farewell to all her dear ones at home—a song that was so sweet and mournful that the wild beasts heard it, and were so touched by it that they resolved to send a messenger to tell her parents what had happened.

So the animals held a council, and first the bear was proposed as messenger, but they were afraid he would eat the cattle. Next came the wolf, but they feared that he might eat the sheep. Then the fox was proposed, but then he might eat the chickens. So at length the hare was chosen to bear the sad tidings, and he promised to perform his office faithfully.

He ran like the wind, and soon reached Aino's home. There he found no one in the house, but on going to the door of the bath-cabin he found some servants there making birch brooms. They had no sooner caught sight of him than they threatened to roast him and eat him, but he replied: 'Do not think I have come hither to let you roast me. For I come with sad tidings to tell you of the flight of Aino and how she died. The rainbow-coloured stone sank with her to the bottom of the sea, and she perished, singing like a lovely song-bird. There she sleeps in the caverns at the bottom of the sea, and on the shore she has left her silken dress and all her gold and jewels.'

When these tidings came to her mother the bitter tears poured from her eyes, and she sang, 'O all other mothers, listen: never try to force your daughters from the house they long to stay in, unto husbands whom they love not. Thus I drove away my daughter, Aino, fairest in the Northland.'

Singing thus she sat and wept, and the tears trickled down until they reached her shoes, and began to flow out over the ground. Here they formed three little streams, which flowed on and grew larger and larger until they became roaring torrents, and in each torrent was a great waterfall. And in the midst of the waterfalls rose three huge rocky pillars, and on the rocks were three green hills, and on each of the hills was a birch-tree, and on each tree sat a cuckoo. And all three sang together. And the first one sang 'Love! O Love!' for three whole moons, mourning for the dead maiden. And the second sang 'Suitor! Suitor!' wailing six long moons for the unhappy suitor. And the third sang sadly 'Consolation! Consolation!' never ending all his life long for the comfort of the broken-hearted mother.

* * * * *

Mother Stina looked at little Mimi very solemnly when this story was ended, as if she wondered whether she herself would ever need to take to heart the warning of Aino's mother. But no one said anything, and Father Mikko continued on with the next story.


When the news reached Wainamoinen he began to weep most bitterly, and the tears fell all that day and night; but the next day he hastened to the water's edge and prayed to the god of dreams to tell him where the water-gods dwelt. And the dream-god answered him lazily, and told him where the island was around which the sea-gods and the mermaids lived.

Then Wainamoinen hastened to his boat-house, and chose a copper boat, and in it placed fishing lines and hooks and nets, and when all was ready he rowed off swiftly towards the forest-covered island which the dream-god had told him of. No sooner had he arrived there than he began to fish, using a line of silver and a hook of gold. But for many days he fished in vain, yet still he persevered. At last one day a wondrous fish was caught, and it played about and struggled a long time until at length it was exhausted, and the hero landed it in the boat.

When Wainamoinen saw it he was astonished at its beauty, but after gazing at it for some time he drew out his knife and was about to cut it up ready for eating. But no sooner had he touched the fish with his knife than it leapt from the bottom of the boat and dived under the water. Then it rose again out of his reach and said to him: 'O ancient minstrel, I did not come hither to be eaten by thee, merely to give thee food for a day.'

'Why didst thou come then?' asked Wainamoinen.

'I came, O minstrel, to rest in thine arms and to be thy companion and wife for ever,' the fish replied; 'to keep thy home in order and to do whatever thou pleased. For I am not a fish; I am no salmon of the Northern Seas, but Youkahainen's youngest sister. I am the one thou wert fishing for—Aino, whom thou lovest. Once thou wert wise, but now art foolish, cruel. Thou didst not know enough to keep me, but wouldst eat me for thy dinner!'

Then Wainamoinen begged her to return to him, but the fish replied: 'Nevermore will Aino's spirit come to thee to be so treated,' and as it spoke the fish dived out of sight.

Still Wainamoinen did not give up, but took out his nets and began dragging the waters. And he dragged all the waters in the lands of Lapland and of Kalevala, and caught fish of every sort, only Aino, now the water-maiden, never came into his net. 'Fool that I am,' he said at length, 'surely I was once wise, had at least a bit of wisdom, but now all my power has left me. For I have had Aino in my boat, but did not know until too late that I had even caught her.' And with these words he gave up his search and set off to his home in Kalevala. And on his way he mourned that the joyous song of the sacred cuckoo had ceased, and he sang: 'I shall never learn the secret how to live and prosper. If only my ancient mother were still living, she could give me good advice that this sorrow might leave me.'

Then his mother awoke from her tomb in the depths and spoke to him: 'Thy mother was but sleeping, and I'll now advise thee how this sorrow may pass over. Go at once to the Northland, where dwell wise and lovely maidens, far lovelier than Aino. Take one of them for thy wife; she will make thee happy and be an honour to thy home.'

* * * * *

'I don't think he had much of a heart if he could be consoled so easily as all that,' said Mother Stina, a little indignantly.

'Wait and you shall see,' said old Father Mikko with a smile; and he continued.


Wainamoinen made ready for a journey to the Northland, to the land of cold winters and of little sunshine, where he was to seek a wife. He saddled his swift steed, and mounting, started towards the north. On and on he went upon his magic steed, galloping over the plains of Kalevala. And when he came to the shores of the wide sea, he did not halt, but galloped on over the water without even so much as wetting a hoof of his magic courser.

But wicked Youkahainen hated Wainamoinen for what he had done when he defeated him in magic, and so he made ready a bow of steel. He painted it with many bright colours and trimmed it with gold and silver and copper. Then he chose the strongest sinews from the stag, and at length the great bow was ready. On the back was painted a courser, at each end a colt, near the bend a sleeping maiden, near the notch a running hare. And after that he cut some arrows out of oak, put tips of sharpened copper on them, and five feathers on the end. Then he hardened the arrows and steeped them in the blood of snakes and the poison of the adder to give them magic power.

When all was ready Youkahainen went out to wait for his enemy. For many days and nights he watched in vain, but still he did not weary, and at last one day at dawn he saw what seemed to be a black cloud on the waters. But by his magic art he knew that it was Wainamoinen on his magic steed. Then he went after his bow, but his mother stopped him and asked him whom he meant to shoot with his bow and poisoned arrows. Youkahainen replied: 'I have made this mighty bow and these poisoned arrows for the old magician Wainamoinen, that I may destroy my rival.'

His mother reproved him, saying, 'If thou slayest Wainamoinen all our joy will vanish, all the singing and music will die with him. It is better that we have his magic music in this world than to have it all go to the underground world Manala, where the spirits of the dead dwell.'

Youkahainen hesitated for a moment, but then envy and hatred filled his heart, and he replied: 'Even though all joy and pleasure vanish from the world, yet will I shoot this rival singer, let the end be what it will.'

With these words he hastened out and took his stand in a thicket near the shore. He chose the three strongest arrows from his quiver, and selecting the best among these three, he laid it against the string and aimed at Wainamoinen's heart. And as he still waited for him to come nearer, he sang this incantation: 'Be elastic, bow-string mine, swiftly fly, O oaken arrow, swift as light, O poisoned arrow, to the heart of Wainamoinen. If my hand too low shall aim thee, may the gods direct thee higher. If mine eye too high shall aim thee, may the gods direct thee lower.'

Then he let the arrow fly, but it flew over Wainamoinen's head and pierced and scattered the clouds above. Again he shot a second, but it flew too low and penetrated to the depths of the sea. Then he aimed the third, and it flew from his bow swift as lightning. Straight forward it flew, and struck the magic steed full in the shoulder so that Wainamoinen was plunged headlong into the waves. And then arose a mighty storm-wind, and the old magician was carried far out into the wide open sea.

But Youkahainen believed that he had killed his rival, and so went home, rejoicing and singing as he went. And his mother asked him, 'Hast thou slain great Wainamoinen?' and he replied, 'I have slain old Wainamoinen. Into the salt sea he plunged headlong, and the old magician is now at the bottom of the deep.'

But his mother replied: 'Woe to earth for what thou hast done. Joy and singing are gone for ever, for thou hast slain the great wise singer, thou hast slain the joy of Kalevala.'

* * * * *

All his listeners seemed very much dissatisfied at the turn the story had taken, so Father Mikko hastened to assure them that Wainamoinen was not really dead, and then he began the next story.


But Wainamoinen was not dead, but swam on for eight days and seven nights trying to reach land. And when the evening of the eighth day came and still no land was in sight, he began to grow tired and to despair of ever getting out alive.

But just then he spied an eagle of wonderful size flying towards him from the west. And the eagle flew up to him and asked who he was and how he had come there in the ocean.

And Wainamoinen replied: 'I am Wainamoinen, the great singer and magician. I had left my home for the distant Northland, and as I galloped over the ocean and neared the shore, the wicked Youkahainen killed my steed with his magic arrows, and I was cast headlong into the waters. And then a mighty wind arose and drove me farther and ever farther out to sea, and now I have been struggling with the winds and waves for eight long weary days, and I fear that I shall perish of cold and hunger before I reach any land.'

The eagle replied: 'Do not be discouraged, but seat thyself upon my back and I will carry thee to land, for I have not forgotten the day when thou left the birch-trees standing for the birds to sing in and the eagle to rest on.'

So Wainamoinen climbed upon the eagle's broad back and seated himself securely there, and off the eagle flew, straight to the nearest land. There on the shore of the dismal Northland the eagle left him, and flew off to join his mate.

Wainamoinen found himself upon a bare, rocky point of land, without a trace of human life about it, nor any path through the woods by which it was surrounded. And he wept bitterly, for he was far from home, covered with wounds from his battle with the winds and waters, and faint with hunger: three days and three nights he wept without ceasing.

Now the fair and lovely daughter of old Louhi had laid a wager with the Sun, that she would rise before him the next morning. And so she did, and had time to shear six lambs before the Sun had left his couch beneath the ocean. And after this she swept up the floor of the stable with a birch broom, and collecting the sweepings on a copper shovel, she carried them to the meadow near the seashore. There she heard the sound of some one weeping, and hastening back she told her mother of it.

Then Louhi, ancient mistress of the Northland, hurried out from her house and down to the seashore. There she heard the sound of weeping, and quickly pushed off from the shore in a boat and rowed to where the weeping Wainamoinen sat.

When she came to him she said to him: 'What folly hast thou done to be in so sad a state?'

Wainamoinen replied: 'It is indeed folly that has brought me into this trouble. I was happy enough at home before I went on this expedition.'

Then Louhi asked him to tell her who he was of all the great heroes.

Wainamoinen replied: 'Formerly I was honoured as a great singer and magician: I was called the "Singer of Kalevala," the wise Wainamoinen.'

Then Louhi said: 'Rise, O hero, from thy lowly couch among the willows, come with me to my home and there tell me the story of thy adventures.' So she took the starving hero into her boat and rowed him to the shore, and took him to her house. There she gave him food, and the warmth and rest and shelter soon restored to him all his strength. Then Louhi asked him to relate his adventures, and he told her all that had happened to him.

When he had finished Louhi said to him: 'Weep no more, Wainamoinen, for thou shalt be welcome in our homes, thou shalt live with us and eat our salmon and other fish.'

Wainamoinen thanked her for her kindness, but added: 'One's own country and table and home are the best and dearest. May the great god, Ukko, the Creator, grant that I may once more reach my dear home and country. It is better to drink clear water from a birchen cup in one's own home, than in foreign lands to drink the richest liquors from the golden beakers of strangers.'

Then Louhi asked him: 'What reward wilt thou give me, if I carry thee back to thy beloved home, to the plains of Kalevala?'

Wainamoinen asked her what reward she would consider sufficient, whether gold or silver treasures, but Louhi answered: 'I ask not for gold or silver, O wise Wainamoinen, but canst thou forge for me the magic Sampo, with its lid of many colours, the magic mill that grinds out flour on one side, and salt from another side, and turns out money from the third? I will give thee, too, my daughter, as a reward, to be thy wife and to care for thy home.'

But Wainamoinen answered sadly: 'I cannot forge for thee the magic Sampo, but take me to my country and I will send thee Ilmarinen, who will make it for thee, and wed thy lovely daughter. Ilmarinen is a wondrous smith; he it was who forged the heavens, and so perfectly did he do it that we cannot see a single mark of the hammer on them.'

Louhi replied: 'Only to him who can forge the magic Sampo for me will I give my daughter.' Then she harnessed up her sledge and put Wainamoinen in it and made him all ready for his journey home. And as he started off she spoke these words to him: 'Do not raise thy eyes to the heavens, do not look upward while the day lasts, before the evening star has risen, or a terrible misfortune will happen to you.'

Then Wainamoinen drove off, and his heart grew light as he left the dismal Northland behind him on his way to Kalevala.


The fair Rainbow-maiden, Louhi's daughter, sat upon a rainbow in the heavens, and was clad in the most splendid dress of gold and silver. She was busy weaving golden webs of wonderful beauty, using a shuttle of gold and a silver weaving-comb.

As Wainamoinen came swiftly along the way which led from the dark and dismal Northland to the plains of Kalevala, before he had gone far on his way he heard in the sky above him the humming of the Rainbow-maiden's loom. Without thinking of old Louhi's warning, he looked up and beheld the maiden seated on the gorgeous rainbow weaving beauteous cloths. No sooner had he seen the lovely maiden than he stopped, and calling to her asked her to come to his sledge.

The Rainbow-maiden replied: 'Tell me what thou wishest of me.'

'Thou shalt come with me,' Wainamoinen replied, 'to bake me honey-biscuit, to fill my cup with foaming beer, to sing beside my table, to be a queen within my home in the land of Kalevala.'

But the maiden replied: 'Yesterday I went at twilight to the flowery meadows. There I heard a thrush singing, and I asked him, "Tell me, pretty song-bird, how shall I live most happily, as a maiden in my father's home or as a wife by my husband's side?" And the bird sang in reply, "The summer days are bright and warm, and so is a maiden's freedom; the winter is cold and dark, and so are the lives of married women. They are like dogs chained in a kennel, no favours are given to wives."'

But Wainamoinen answered the maiden: 'The thrush sings only nonsense. Maidens are treated like little children, but wives are like queens. Come to my sledge, O maiden, for I am not the least among heroes, nor am I ignorant of magic. Come, and I will make thee my wife and queen in Kalevala.'

Then the Rainbow-maiden promised to be his wife if he would split a golden hair with a knife that had no edge, and take a bird's egg from the nest with a snare that no one could see. Wainamoinen did both these things, and then begged her to come to his sledge, for he had done what she asked.

But she set another task for him, telling him she would marry him if he could peel a block of sandstone and cut a whip-handle from ice without making a single splinter. And Wainamoinen did both these things, but still the maiden refused to go until he had performed a third task. This was to make from the splinters of her distaff a little ship, and to launch it into the water without touching it.

Then Wainamoinen took the pieces of her distaff and set to work. He took them to a mountain from which he got the iron for his work, and for three days he laboured with hatchet and hammer. But on the evening of the third day a wicked spirit, Lempo, caught his hatchet as he raised it up, and turned it as it fell, so that it hit a rock and broke in fragments, and one of the pieces flew into the magician's knee, and cut it, so that the blood poured out.

Then Wainamoinen began to sing a magic incantation to stop the blood from flowing, but his magic was powerless against the evil Lempo, and he could not stop the blood. Then he gathered certain herbs with wonderful powers, and put them on the wound, but still he could not heal it up, for Lempo's spell was too powerful for his magic. So he got into his sledge again, and drove off at a gallop to seek for help. Soon he came to a place where the road branched off in three directions. He chose the left-hand one, and galloped on till he reached a house. When he went to the door he found only a boy and a baby inside, and when he had told them what he wanted, the boy said, 'There is no one here that can help thee, but take the middle road, and perhaps thou wilt find help.'

So off he galloped to where the roads branched off, and then along the middle one to another house. There he found an old witch lying on the floor, but she gave him the same answer that the boy had done, and sent him to the right-hand road.

On this road he came to another cottage, where an old man with a long gray beard was sitting by the fire. And when Wainamoinen told him of his trouble, the old man replied, 'Greater things have been done by but three of the magic words; water has been turned to land, and land to water.' On hearing this answer Wainamoinen rose from his sledge and went into the cottage, and seated himself there. And all this time his knee was bleeding, so that the blood was enough to fill seven huge birchen pots.

Then the old man asked him who he was, and bade him sing to him the origin[4] of the iron that had wounded him so, and Wainamoinen related the following story of how iron was first made:

[4] For they believed that a magic song that told the origin of any trouble would also cure it.

Long ago after there were air and water, fire was born, and after the fire came iron. Ukko, the creator, rubbed his hands upon his left knee, and there arose thence three lovely maidens, who were the mothers of iron and steel. These three maidens walked forth on the clouds, and from their bosoms ran the milk of iron, down unto the clouds and thence down upon the earth. Ukko's eldest daughter cast black milk over the river-beds, and the second cast white milk over the hills and mountains, and the third red milk over the lakes and oceans; and from the black milk grew the soft black iron-ore; from the white milk the lighter-coloured ore; and from the red milk the brittle red iron-ore.

After the iron had lain in peace for a while, Fire came to visit his brother Iron and tried to eat him up. Then Iron ran from him and took refuge in the swamps and marshes, and that is how we now find iron-ore hidden in the marshes.

Then was born the great smith, Ilmarinen, and the next morning after he was born he built his smithy on a hill near the marshland. There he found the hidden iron-ore, and carried it to his smithy and put it in the furnace to be smelted. And Ilmarinen had not blown more than three strokes of the bellows before the iron began to grow soft as dough. But then Iron cried out to him, 'Take me from this furnace, Ilmarinen, save me from this cruel torture!' for the heat of the fire had grown unbearable.

'Thou art not hurt, but only a little frightened,' Ilmarinen replied; 'but I will take thee out, and thou shalt be a great warrior and slay many heroes.'

But Iron swore by the hammer and anvil, 'I will injure trees and mountains, but I'll never kill the heroes. I will be men's servant and their tool, but will not serve for weapons.'

So Ilmarinen put the iron on his anvil, and made from it many fine things and tools of every kind. But he could not harden the iron into steel, though he pondered over it for a long time. He made a lye from birch-ashes and water to harden the iron in, but it was all in vain.

Just then a little bee came flying up, and Ilmarinen begged him to bring honey from all the flowers in the meadows, that he might put it in the water and so harden the iron to steel. But a hornet, one of the servants of the evil spirit Lempo, was sitting on the roof and overheard Ilmarinen's words. And the hornet flew off and collected all the evil charms he could find—the hissing of serpents, the venom of adders, the poison of spiders, the stings of every insect—and brought them to Ilmarinen. He thought that the bee had come and brought him honey from the meadows, and so mixed all these poisons with the water in which he was to plunge the iron. And when he thrust the iron into the poisoned water it was turned to hard steel, but the poisons made it forget its oath and grow hard-hearted, and it began to wound men and cause their blood to flow in streams. This was the origin of steel and iron.

When Wainamoinen had finished, the old man rose from the hearth and began an incantation to make the wound close up. First he cursed Iron that it had become so wicked, and then he bade the blood cease to flow by the power of his magic. And as he went on he prayed to great Ukko that if this magic incantation should not prove sufficient, Ukko himself would come and stop the wound.

By the time he had finished his words of magic the blood ceased flowing from the wound. Then the old man sent his son to make a healing salve out of herbs, to take away the soreness from Wainamoinen's knee.

First the youth made a salve from oak-bark and young shoots, and many sorts of healing grasses. Three days and three nights he steeped them in a copper kettle, but when he had finished the salve would not do. Then he added still other healing herbs, and steeped it for three days more, and at last it was ready. First he tried it on a birch-tree that had been broken down by wicked Lempo. He rubbed the salve on the broken branches and said: 'With this salve I anoint thee, recover, O birch-tree, and grow more beautiful than ever!'

And the tree grew together and became more beautiful and strong than ever before. Then he tried the salve on broken granite boulders and on fissures in the mountains, and it was so powerful that it closed them all together as if they had never existed. After this he hurried home and gave the magic salve to his father, and told him what he had done with it.

The old man anointed Wainamoinen's knee with it, saying: 'Do not rely on thine own virtue or power, but in thy creator's strength; do not speak with thine own wisdom, but with great Ukko's. Whatever in thee is good comes from Ukko.'

No sooner had the old man put on the salve and said these words, than Wainamoinen was seized with a terrible pain, and lay rolling and writhing on the floor in agony. But the old man bandaged up his knee with a silken bandage, and prayed to Ukko to come to his assistance.

And suddenly the pain left Wainamoinen and his knee became as strong and well as ever. Then he raised his eyes in gratitude to heaven and prayed thus to Ukko: 'Praise to thee, my Creator, for the aid that thou hast given me. For thou hast banished all my pain and trouble. O all ye people of Kalevala, both those now living and those to come, boast not of the work that ye have done but give to God the praise, for the great Ukko alone can make all things perfect, Ukko is the one master!'

* * * * *

There was a moment's pause, and then little Mimi said that she was so glad Wainamoinen was well again, and asked Father Mikko to tell them what happened to him next. But the old man answered that he must have a little time to breathe at least. So he filled his pipe again and lighted it, and Erik brought up some more beer, and they sat and smoked and drank beer and chatted for a while.

Then, when he felt rested once more, Father Mikko obeyed Mimi's urgent request and began again to tell them how Wainamoinen got home, and what happened afterwards.


No sooner was Wainamoinen cured of his wound than he put his sledge in order and drove off at lightning speed towards Kalevala. For three days he journeyed over hills and valleys, over marshes and meadows, and on the evening of the third day he reached the land of Kalevala once again.

There, on the border line he halted, and began a magic song. And as he sang a fir-tree began to grow from the earth, and kept on growing until its top had grown up above the clouds and reached to the stars. When the tree had finished growing, Wainamoinen sang another magic song, so that the moon was caught fast in the tree's branches and obliged to shine there until Wainamoinen should reverse his spell. And then by another spell he made the stars of the Great Bear fast in the tree-top, and then jumped into his sledge and drove on again to his home, with his cap set awry on his head, mourning because he had promised to send Ilmarinen back to the Northland, to forge the magic Sampo as his ransom.

As he drove on he came to Ilmarinen's smithy, and he stopped and went in to him. Ilmarinen welcomed him and asked where he had been so long, and what had happened to him.

Then Wainamoinen told him of his journey to the Northland, and all the dangers he had gone through, and he added: 'In a village there I saw a maiden, who is the fairest in all the Northland. All there sing her praises, for her forehead shines like the rainbow and her face is fair as the golden moonlight. She is more beautiful than the sun and all the stars together, but she will not marry any suitor. But do thou go, dear Ilmarinen, and see her wondrous beauty; forge the magic Sampo for her mother and then thou shalt win this lovely maiden to be thy wife.'

But Ilmarinen replied: 'O cunning Wainamoinen, I know that thou hast promised me as a ransom for thyself. But I will never go to that gloomy country, nor do I care for thy beautiful maiden; I will not go for all the maids in Pohjola.'

Wainamoinen answered: 'But I can tell thee of still greater wonders, for I have seen a giant fir-tree growing on the border of our own country; its top is higher than the clouds, and in its branches shine the moon and the Great Bear.'

'I will not believe thy wonderful story,' replied Ilmarinen, 'until I see the tree with my own eyes and the moon and stars shining in it.'

'Come with me,' said Wainamoinen, 'and I will show thee that I speak the truth.' So off they set to see the wondrous tree. When they had come to it Wainamoinen asked Ilmarinen to climb the tree and to bring down the moon and stars, and he at once began to climb up towards them.

But, while he was climbing, the fir-tree spoke to him, saying: 'Foolish hero, why hast thou so little knowledge as to try to steal the moon from my branches?' No sooner had the tree said these words to Ilmarinen, than Wainamoinen sang a magic spell, calling up a great storm-wind, and saying to it: 'O storm-wind, take Ilmarinen and carry him in thy airy vessel to the dark and dismal Northland.'

And the storm-wind came and heaped up the clouds so that they formed a boat, and seizing Ilmarinen from the tree it placed him in the clouds and rushed off to the north, carrying clouds and all with it. On and on he sailed, rising higher than the moon, tossed about by the wind, until at last he came to the Northland and the storm-wind set him down in Louhi's courtyard.

Old toothless Louhi saw him as he alighted, and asked him: 'Who art thou that comest through the air, riding on the storm-wind? Hast thou ever met the great smith Ilmarinen, for I have long been waiting for him to come and forge the magic Sampo for me.'

'I do indeed know him well,' he replied, 'for I myself am Ilmarinen.'

At these words Louhi hurried into the house and told her youngest daughter to dress herself in all her most splendid clothes and ornaments, for Ilmarinen was come to make the Sampo for them. So the maiden chose her loveliest silken dresses, and placed a circlet of copper round her brow, a golden girdle round her waist, and pearls about her neck, and in her hair she twisted threads of gold and silver. When she was dressed she looked, with her rosy red cheeks and bright sparkling eyes, more lovely than any other maiden in all the Northland, and then she hurried to the hall to meet Ilmarinen.

Louhi went to Ilmarinen and led him into the house, where there was a feast spread ready for him. She gave him the best seat at the table, and the choicest viands to eat, and gave him everything he wished for. Then she asked him if he would forge the Sampo for her, and promised him, if he would, her fairest daughter as his wife.

Ilmarinen was charmed with her daughter's beauty, and he promised to do what she asked. But when he went to look for a place to work in, he could find no place, and not even so much as a pair of bellows to blow his fire with. Still he was not discouraged, but for three days he wandered about, looking for a place to build a workshop. On the evening of the third day he saw a huge rock that was suited for his purpose, and there he began to build. The first day he built the chimney and started a fire; the second day he made his bellows and put them in place; the third day he finished his furnace, and had all ready to begin his work.

Then Ilmarinen made a magic mixture of certain metals and put them in the bottom of the furnace. And he hired some of Louhi's men to work the bellows and keep putting fuel on the fire. Three long summer days the workmen blew the bellows, until at length the base rock began to blossom in flames from the magic heat.

On the evening of the first day Ilmarinen bent over the furnace and took out a magic bow. It gleamed like the moon, had a shaft of copper and tips of silver, and was the most wonderful bow that had ever been made. But it would not rest satisfied unless it killed a warrior every day, and two on feast-days. So Ilmarinen broke it into pieces and threw them back into the furnace, and tried again to forge the Sampo.

On the evening of the second day he looked into the furnace and drew forth a magic vessel. It was all purple, save the ribs that were of gold and the vase of copper, and it was the most beautiful vessel that ever had been made. But wherever it went it always led men into quarrels and fights, so Ilmarinen broke it into pieces and threw it back into the furnace.

On the evening of the third day he took out of the furnace a magic heifer, with horns of gold and the most beautifully-shaped head. But she was ill-tempered and would not stay at home, but rushed through the forest and swamps and wasted all her milk on the ground. So Ilmarinen cut the magic heifer in pieces and threw them back into the furnace.

And on the fourth evening he took out a wonderful plough, the ploughshare of gold and the handles of silver and the beam of copper. But it ploughed up fields of barley and the richest meadows, so Ilmarinen threw it back into the furnace.

Then he drove away all his workmen, and by his magic called up the storm-winds to blow his bellows. They came from the North and South and East and West, and they blew one day and then another and then a third, until the fire leapt out through the windows, the sparks flew from the door, and the smoke rose up and mingled with the clouds. And on the third evening Ilmarinen looked into the furnace and beheld the magic Sampo growing there. Quickly he took it out and placed it on his anvil, and taking a huge hammer the wonderful smith forged the luck-bringing Sampo. From one side it grinds out flour, and from the other salt, and from the third it coins out money. And the lid is all the colours of the rainbow, and as it rocks back and forth it grinds one measure for the day, and one for the market and one for the storehouse.

Then old Louhi joyfully took the luck-bringing Sampo and hid it in the hills of Lapland. She bound it with nine great locks, and by her witchcraft made three roots grow all around it, two deep beneath the mountains and one beneath the seashore.

And when he had finished the Sampo, Ilmarinen came to the lovely daughter of Louhi and asked her if she were ready now to be his wife. But she replied: 'If I should go with thee, and leave the Northland, all the birds would cease to sing. No, never while I live will I give up my maiden freedom, lest all the birds should leave the forest and the mermaids leave the waters.'

So Ilmarinen had made the Sampo all in vain, and he was now far from home and had no way of returning. But Louhi came to him and asked him why he was grieving, and when she learned his trouble, and that he now wished to return to his own home, she provided him with a boat of copper. And when he had set sail she sent the north wind to carry him on his way, and on the evening of the third day he reached his home.

There Wainamoinen met him and asked if he had forged the magic Sampo. 'Yes,' replied Ilmarinen, 'I have forged the Sampo, with its lid of many colours. Louhi has the wondrous Sampo, but I have lost the beauteous maiden.'

* * * * *

'Ah!' said little Mimi, 'old Louhi's daughter was just as mean as could be, and of course she didn't keep her promise, because Lapps never can be good people.'

'Don't be too hard on the poor Lapps, my dear,' said Father Mikko, 'for you see this happened a great many hundreds of years ago, and the whole world has grown better since then. But now we will leave Ilmarinen and Wainamoinen for a while, and I will tell you about the reckless Lemminkainen and his adventures.'

So the old man began as follows:


Long, long ago a son was born to Lempo, and he was named Lemminkainen, but some call him Ahti. He grew up amongst the islands and fed upon the salmon until he became a mighty man, handsome to look at and skilled in magic. But he was not as good as he was handsome—he had a wicked heart, and was more famous for his dancing than for great deeds.

Now at the time my story begins, there lived in the Northland a beautiful maiden named Kyllikki. She was so lovely that the Sun had begged her to marry his son and come and live with them. But she refused, and when the Moon came and besought her to marry her son, and the Evening Star sought her for his son, she refused them both. And after that came suitors from all the countries round about, but the lovely Kyllikki would not marry one of them.

When Lemminkainen heard of this, he resolved that he would win her himself. But his aged mother tried to dissuade him, telling him that the maiden was of a higher family than his own, that all the Northland women would laugh at him, and then if he should try to punish them for their laughter, that the warriors of the Northland would fall on him and kill him. But all this did not make him change his mind, and he started off for the distant Northland.

When he came near to Kyllikki's home, all the women and maidens that saw him began to laugh at him because he looked so poor, and yet dared to try to win the fair Kyllikki's hand. When he heard them laughing, it made him so angry that he drove on without paying any attention to how he was driving, and when he came to the courtyard his sledge hit against the gate-post and broke to pieces, and threw him out into the snow.

He rose up angrier than ever, but all those around only laughed the harder at him, and made all manner of fun of him. Then they offered him a place as a shepherd on the mountains. So Ahti became a shepherd, and spent all the days on the hills, but in the evenings he went to their dances, and when he had shown them what a skilful dancer he was, he soon became a great favourite with all the women, and they began to praise him instead of laughing at him.

But fair Kyllikki alone would have nothing to do with him—would not even look at him in spite of all his endeavours to win her. At last she was tired out with his attentions, and told him that he had better return home, for she did not like him, and that so long as he stayed there she would not even look at him.

Still he did not go away, but waited until a chance came to carry out his new plan. About a month after this, all the maidens were met together for a dance in a glen among the hills, and among them was Kyllikki. Suddenly Lemminkainen came galloping up in his sledge and seized the fair Kyllikki as she was dancing with the rest, placed her in his sledge, and drove off like the whirlwind, and as he flew by the frightened maidens he cried out to them: 'Never tell that I have taken Kyllikki, or I will cast a magic spell over your lovers, so that they will all leave you and go off to the wars and will never come back to dance and make merry with you.'

But Kyllikki wept and begged Lemminkainen to give her back her freedom, saying, 'Oh, give me back my freedom, cruel Lemminkainen; let me return on foot to my grieving father and mother. If thou wilt not let me go, O Ahti, I will curse thee and will call upon my seven valiant brothers to pursue and kill thee. Once I was happy among my people, but now all my joy has gone since thou hast come to torment me, O cruel-hearted Ahti!'

But all her words could not move Lemminkainen to release her. Then he said to her: 'Dearest maiden, fair Kyllikki, cease thy weeping and be joyful; I will never harm thee nor deceive thee. Why shouldst thou be sorrowful, for I have a lovely home and friends and riches, and thou shalt never need to labour. Do not despise me because my family is not mighty, for I have a good spear and a sharp sword, and with these I will gain greatness and power for thy sake.'

Then Kyllikki asked him: 'O Ahti, son of Lempo, wilt thou then be to me a faithful husband; wilt thou swear to me never to go to battle nor to strife of any sort?'

'I will swear upon my honour,' Lemminkainen replied, 'that I will never go to battle, if thou wilt promise in return never to go to dance in the village, however much thou mayst long for it.'

So the two swore before the great Ukko, Lemminkainen promising never to go to battle, and Kyllikki that she would never go to the village dances. And then Lemminkainen rejoicing cracked his whip, and they galloped on like the wind over hills and valleys towards the plains of Kalevala.

As they came near to Lemminkainen's home, Kyllikki saw that it looked dreary and poor, and began to weep again, but Lemminkainen comforted her, telling her that now he would build a splendid mansion for her, and so she grew cheerful once more.

They drove up to his mother's cottage, and as they entered his mother asked him how he had fared. Ahti answered: 'I have well repaid the scorn of the Northland maidens, for I have brought the fairest of them with me in my sledge. I brought her well wrapt in bear-skins hither, to be my loving bride for ever. Beloved mother, make ready for us the best room and prepare a rich feast, that my bride may be content.'

His mother answered: 'Praised be gracious Ukko, that hath given me a daughter. Praise Ukko, my son, that thou hast won this lovely maiden, the pride of the Northland, who is purer than the snow, more graceful than the swan, and more beautiful than the stars. Let us make our dwelling larger, and decorate the walls most beautifully in honour of thy lovely bride, the fairest maid of all creation.'


Lemminkainen and Kyllikki lived together happily for many years, keeping the promises they had made to each other. But one day Lemminkainen had not come home from fishing by sunset, and then the longing to dance was more than Kyllikki could withstand, and she went into the village and joined the maidens in their dance.

As soon as Lemminkainen came home, his sister Ainikki came to him and told him how Kyllikki had broken her promise and had joined in the dance. Then Lemminkainen grew angry and sad at the same time, and he went to his mother and asked her to steep his clothing in the blood of serpents, for he was going off to battle since Kyllikki could not keep her vow.

Kyllikki tried to persuade him not to leave her, telling him that she had dreamt a dream, in which she saw their home in flames and the fire bursting out through the doors and windows and roof. But Lemminkainen replied: 'I have no faith in women's dreams or maidens' vows. Bring me my copper armour, mother, for I long to get to the wars, to go to dismal Pohjola, there to win great stores of gold and silver.'

'Stay at home, my dear son,' his aged mother said, 'and drink the beer in our cellars, sitting peaceably by thine own hearth, for we have more than enough gold and silver. Only the other day, as our servants were ploughing the fields they came upon a chest of gold and silver buried in the ground—take this and be content.'

When all this had no effect upon Lemminkainen, his mother began to tell him of the magic of the Northland people, and that they would sing him into the fire so that he would be burnt to death. But he replied: 'Long ago three Lapland wizards tried to bewitch me, and employed their strongest spells against me, but I stood unmoved. Then I began my own magic songs, and before long I overcame them and sank them to the bottom of the sea, where they are still sleeping and the seaweed is growing through their hair and beards.'

Still his mother tried to stop him, and his wife Kyllikki begged his forgiveness in tears. He stood listening to them and brushing out his long black hair, but at last he became impatient, and threw the brush from him and cried out: 'I will not stay, but keep that brush, and when ye see blood oozing from its bristles, then ye may know that some terrible misfortune has overtaken me.'

Saying this he left them and put on his armour and harnessed his steed into his sledge. Then he sang a song, calling on all the spirits of the woods and the mountains and the waters and on great Ukko himself to help him against the Northland wizards, and when his song was ended he drove off like the wind.

In the evening of the third day he reached a little village in the Northland. Here he drove into a courtyard and called out: 'Is there any one strong enough to attend to my horse and take care of my sledge.' There was a child playing on the floor of the house, and it replied that there was no one there to do it. Then Lemminkainen rode on to another house and asked the same question; and a man standing in the doorway replied: 'There are plenty here that are mighty enough not only to unharness thy steed, but to conquer thee and drive thee to thy home ere the sun has set.'

Then Lemminkainen told him that he would return and slay him, and so drove off to the highest house in the village. Here he cast a spell over the watch-dog, so that he should not bark, and drove in. Then he struck on the ground with his whip, and from the ground there arose a vapour that concealed the sledge, and in the vapour was a dwarf that took his steed and unharnessed it and gave it food. But Lemminkainen went on into the house, having first made himself invisible. There he found a great many people singing and making merry, and by the fires the Northland wizards were seated. He made his way on, and then took on his own shape again and entered into the main hall, and cried out to those that were singing to be silent.

As soon as she saw him the mistress of the house ran up to him and asked him who he was, and how he had passed the watch-dog unnoticed. Then Lemminkainen told her who he was, and instantly began to weave his magic spells, while the lightning shot from his fur mantle and flames from his eyes. He sang them all under the power of his magic—some beneath the waters, some into the burning fire, some beneath the heaped-up mountains. Only one poor old man, who was blind and lame, did he leave untouched. And when the old man asked him why it was that he had alone been left, cruel Lemminkainen began to abuse him and to torment him with words, until the old man, Nasshut, grew almost wild with anger, and hobbled away, swearing to have vengeance. Nasshut journeyed on and on, and at last arrived at the river Tuoni, which separates the land of the dead from the land of the living. There he waited until Lemminkainen should come, for he knew, by his wizard's skill, that he would come thither soon.


After this Lemminkainen travelled on through dismal Pohjola until he came to the home of aged Louhi. He went in to Louhi and begged her to give him one of her daughters in marriage, but Louhi refused, saying: 'Thou hast already taken one wife from Lapland, the fair Kyllikki, and I will give thee neither the loveliest nor yet the ugliest of my daughters.'

Still Lemminkainen kept urging her, and at last, to get rid of him, she said: 'I will never give one of my daughters to a worthless man. Thou mayst not ask me again until thou bringest me the Hisi-reindeer.'

Then Lemminkainen set to work to make his arrows and his darts. When these were done he went to Lylikki, the great snow-shoe maker, and bade him make a huge pair of snow-shoes, as he was going to hunt the Hisi-reindeer. At first Lylikki tried to dissuade him, telling him he could never succeed, but perhaps would die in the forest. But Lemminkainen ordered him again to make the snow-shoes, and Lylikki set to work. He made them of wood, only a few inches wide, but longer than Lemminkainen was tall, and with straps in the middle to fasten them on to the feet; and he also made a staff for Lemminkainen to push himself along with, or to keep his balance with when he slid down the hills.

At length they were finished, and Lemminkainen put them on, and his quiver on his back, and took his snow-staff in his hand, and as he set off he cried out: 'There is no living thing in all the forest that can escape me now, when I take my mighty strides in Lylikki's snow-shoes.'

But the evil spirit Hisi overheard him as he boasted thus, and Hisi set to work to make an enchanted reindeer, that Lemminkainen would never be able to catch. So he took bare willow branches to make the horns, and wood for the head, the feet and legs were made of reeds, and the veins from withered grass, the eyes were made from daisies, the ears from flowers, and the skin of the rough fir-bark, and the muscles from strong, sappy wood. When this magic reindeer was completed it was the swiftest and the finest-looking of all reindeer. And Hisi sent it off to Pohjola, telling it to lure Lemminkainen into the snow-covered mountains and there to wear him out with the cold and the fatigue of the chase. So the reindeer went forth to dismal Pohjola, and there it ran through the courtyards and the outhouses, overturning tubs of water, throwing the kettles from their hooks, and upsetting the dishes that were cooking before the fires. There was a frightful noise there, for all the dogs began to bark, and the children to cry, and the women to laugh, and the men to shout. And then the magic reindeer went on its way.

Now Lemminkainen had set out, as soon as his snow-shoes were ready, and had hunted the whole world over for a trace of the Hisi-reindeer, rushing like the wind over mountains and valleys, until the fire shot from his snow-shoes, and his snow-staff smoked. But after he had wandered over the whole world and still had found no trace of the Hisi-reindeer, he came at last to the corner of Northland where the magic animal had just run through the courts upsetting everything, and the children were still crying and the women laughing when he arrived. Lemminkainen asked what the cause was of their uproar, and they told him how the reindeer had been there.

No sooner had he heard this than off he flew over the snow, and as he went he sang a spell, calling on the powers of Pohjola to enable him to catch the Hisi-beast. After he had sung, he gave three huge strides with his snow-shoes, and at the end of the third he caught up with the Hisi-reindeer, and in another moment had it bound fast. Then he spoke to the reindeer and patted it on the head, and bade it come with him to Louhi. But suddenly the animal made a mighty rush, snapped his bonds in two, and sprang away over the hills and valleys out of sight.

Lemminkainen started off after it, but at the first step his snow-shoes broke right in two and threw him down, breaking his arrows and his snow-staff in his fall. Then he arose and looked sadly at his broken shoes and arrows and stick, and said to himself: 'How shall I ever succeed in my hunt, now that my shoes are broken, and the reindeer is once more free?'


For a long time Lemminkainen sat considering whether he should give up the chase and return to Kalevala, or still keep on after the Hisi-reindeer. At length he regained hope and courage, and having sung an incantation that made his snow-shoes and arrows and staff whole again, he started off once more.

This time he turned his steps to the home of Tapio, the god of the forest, and as he went he began to sing wondrous songs to Tapio and his wife Mielikki, begging them to help him, and promising them great stores of gold and silver if they would do so.

At last he arrived at Tapio's palace, which had window-frames of gold, and the palace itself was of ivory. And within it Mielikki and her daughters were dressed in golden garments, and wore gold and gems in their hair, and pearls round their necks. And they all promised to help Lemminkainen, and went off to drive the reindeer up to the palace so that he might catch it. Nor had he long to wait before whole troops of reindeer came flocking into the palace courtyard, and Lemminkainen saw among them the Hisi-deer, and caught it.

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