Poem 7

The original Kalevala poem can be found here; introductory notes on Team Louhi are here.

water-bound went on old Väinö
floating days and nights and some weeks
now regrets his homestead leaving
hoping then for Pohja’s maidens
“where can I now set my household –
build on wind or scaffold water?
no such structure would abide me
walls would fall, collapse around me.”

then came kokko, bird of lapland,
heard the wailing and the weeping
recognised this ancient sage man,
so this good bird asked of Väinö
“how have you come to these waters,
how came you to float these foamheads?”

Väinö answered, so lamented:
“seeking bride of far-off Pohja,
came too close to rival heartlands
arrows meant for me did miss me
slaid my poor steed, earnest work horse
to these waves it did commit me
now am helpless, hungry, tired –
will I starve or will I drown first,
these are thoughts that claim my mind now.”

spoke the bird then: “Come, I’ll carry!
I remember all your good deeds
do remember ploughing, sewing
how you left that grandest birch tree
for our birdkind to our singing!”

so climbed Väinö to the bird’s back
through the air was he now carried
on the winds now on to Pohja
there on sandy shores he rested,
wept his many wounds, misfortunes

one of Pohja’s ablest women
early-rising, heavy-lifting
heard the weeping by the shoreside
hurried back to seek her mistress
told of stranger come to these lands

Louhi as the much-feared mistress
heard the crying, heard the wailing
knew this was no children’s weeping
not a woman, not a young man
but a man of mighty stature
wizened, hardened, somewhere weeping

so took Louhi to her own boat
rowed to see the new arrival,
greeted him from friendly distance:
“you have come to foreign soil here,
speak your name and destination.”

ever-heavy spoke old Väinö
“would rather be in Kalevala,
there was I once known for my songs
for my songs and recitations.
here I hardly know my own name
here have little to my name, now.”

thus spake Louhi: “Rise now, old man
rise and now regain your singing!”
in her own boat rowed him, took him
to her keeping, feeding, feasting.
“see, old Väinö, here is fine, too:
food and drinks and high-note friendship.”

granted Väinö, though insisted:
“rather would I still be home now,
better living low on own land
than a lord in other’s keeping.”

did sage Louhi see the wisdom:
“if I took you to your homestead,
what kind of prize would you grant me?”

Väinö shifted, keen to bargain:
“what’s your will, dear, gold or silver?”
laughed out Louhi: “Neither treasure!
for your homebound passage forge me
Sampo, magic mill of plenty.
in the trade I’ll also offer
fine and fair, my dearest daughter.”

countered Väinö: “I’m no blacksmith,
but know the one such man most able,
Ilmarinen, also Seppo.
he has forged the sky above us
forged the moon and sun and stars, too.
take me home, I’ll send you Seppo
he’ll come and make you your Sampo
even see to other daughters”

Louhi deemed these terms be fitting,
set a vessel for sage Väinö.
“on this voyage keep your head down
stay coccooned during your sleigh-ride
lest all manner of destruction
every horror e’er arisen
will befall your wretched journey!”

with these words in ears still ringing
rode old Väinö ‘way from Pohja

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