Poem 4: Aino rejects Väinämöinen

Team Louhi sort-of-not-quite translates the Finnish Kalevala into English, with a particular emphasis on meter and alliteration. The original Kalevala poem can be found here; introductory notes on Team Louhi are here.

mmmechev aino

M. M. Mechev, “Aino”

Aino, only, sweetest sibling,
Jouko’s youngest dearest sister
hopeless, helpless darling maiden
bartered off by brother’s folly

having learned of grave agreement
Aino went on working, whiling
found a forest for her errands
twisting switches, branches breaking

hears old Väinö in the woodland,
calling “Dearest, lovely Aino!
braid your hair for me, not others,
wear your gold and carry copper
just for me and not for others”

Aino went, turned down the offer:
“I will neither braid nor carry
not for you or any other
father’s bread is fine for my use
mother’s love a mighty home, too.”

so she tore her gold and copper
silks and strands of many colours
fled the scene and went home weeping

asked her father, asked her sister,
even asked that young man, Jouko:
“whither weeping, why the tears, child?”
claimed to weep her missing coppers
mourned her silks, her coloured trinkets –
telling not of Väinö’s wooing.

not til Aino’s mother queried,
asked the woman of her own dear:
“whither weeping, why the tears, child?”
Aino now did speak her true grief:
Väinö’s words, his wifely wanting

said her mother, sternest woman
“wear my own gold, take my treasure!
Sun and Moon had once been weaving,
granted me their special favours
wear them now, my dearest sweet child
braid your hair for fam’ly fortune,
by this pairing raise our tribe now!”

Aino went but kept on weeping:
“better would I be if unborn
or had perished in my first week
so would spare the tears of elders
a loss not noticed by my brother”

returned her mother to the asking:
“whither weeping, why the tears, child?”
then relented, so disclosed she:
“mother mine would see me marry
man of such age, and so wizened,
have me as his dotage keeper!
rather would I live like fish do:
more am made for waves than wiving”

left young Aino, took that treasure
wrapped the gold and silk and silver
walked away to never waver
walked for one and two and more days
came to lakeshore, set her self down
spotting maidens in the distance,
sought she now to go and join them

left her jewels, silks and stockings
swam as far as she could manage
climbed a rock to rest upon it
but the rock then fell to dark depths
took our Aino with it, drowned her

in her final moments pleaded
“mother, father, sister, brother!
leave this water unfished, undrunk,
bring not your horses or your laundry,
wash your face in other waters
water here has come from my blood
fishes here they share my flesh, too
twigs my bones; these reeds my hair now”

with these words she perished, ended
better made for waves than wiving,
water living, fountain flowing,
Aino, only, water creature

someone must the news deliver
tell the family of her drowning
bear and wolf and fox made effort
went their way but were distracted:
hunting instincts led them off-track

a rabbit finally found the family
saw the women in their bathing,
told the mother worst of all news
she then wept, shared newfound wisdom:
“mothers, wretches, do not send your
daughters to unwanted weddings!
keep them home in caring comp’ny,
share not my fate, my heavy heart now”

tears they flowed and built up rivers
waterfalls in grieving measure
sprang up islands, trees for perching
now cuckoo calls and shortens lifespan
all in Aino’s saddest passing

Continue to Team Louhi: Poem 5

Back to Team Louhi: Poem 3 

2 thoughts on “Poem 4: Aino rejects Väinämöinen

  1. Pingback: Poem 3: Joukahainen challenges Väinämöinen – sanna peden

  2. Pingback: Poem 5: Aino rejects Väinämöinen, again – sanna peden

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