Poem 5: Aino rejects Väinämöinen, again

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.


Hideki Iinuma’s “Aino”, featured on promotional material for the Universal Nature-exhibit. Photo by @kazu_06026

thus the message was delivered
of the fall of dearest Aino
and our ancient sage, that Väinö
to his knees fell for his weeping
mourning loss of fairborn daughter
sister of the reckless Jouko

still desiring lifelong pairing
by the shore of one blue water
called out Väinö to old Unto:
“share dear friend with me your visions
where to find the water maidens,
Vellamo with all her women”

Unto spoke and shared his knowledge:
“Vellamo with all her wonders
wenches water-bound and precious
live some way beneath these waters,
further off that misty land mass”

Väinö then took to his oarwork
set to fishing on the vast sea
rods and lines and hooks a-baited
golden rowing, silver fishing
nearing now that misty land mass

fishes one day, fishes two
fishes long and all in earnest
catches something, notes its odd shape:
“stranger fish, this ocean fruiting!
neither pike nor perch is like it
not like any well-known scaled thing!”

Väinö short-blade knife presented
planned to cut and eat this new catch
but this fish evades his knife-work
finds its way back to the water
chides the sage man, calls him foolish:

“I’m the one who’s fled you twice now,
chose against your wifely living,
keeping house and all hand-holding,
here I leave you to your hunger
Aino, only, water daughter”

wept again this wretched Väinö
pled in vain for Aino’s favour:
“water maiden, all I’ve wanted
wedding one of Vello’s wonders
please forgive my failing senses
recognising not your true form!”

Aino, only, unrelenting
in no mood to humour Väinö
stays away for all his whole life
though his nets trawl ev’ry ocean
though his hooks seek ev’ry lakeside

weeps old Väinö, further grieving
“were my mother live to guide me
were she here to sing her insight!
I’m alone without her wit, now
lone still wanting life companion.”

from the water called his mother:
“I still live and can still guide you
I am here to sing you insight!
take you now to far-off Pohja
to the Northland for your wiving
there, dear son, choose life companion,
find the fairest daughter of that old land
able, nimble, quick-foot darlings.
that’s the place to make you happy
that’s the realm to give you comfort.”

took these words and heard their wisdom
Väinö, ancient, partner-seeker.

Continue to Team Louhi: Poem 6

Back to Team Louhi: Poem 4

One thought on “Poem 5: Aino rejects Väinämöinen, again

  1. Pingback: Poem 4: Aino rejects Väinämöinen – sanna peden

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