Elias Lönnrot

(9 April 1802 – 19 March 1884 / Sammatti / Finland)

The Kalevala - Rune V


WAINAVOINEN'S LAMENTATION.


Far and wide the tidings travelled,
Far away men heard the story
Of the flight and death of Aino,
Sister dear of Youkahainen,
Fairest daughter of creation.
Wainamoinen, brave and truthful,
Straightway fell to bitter weeping,
Wept at morning, wept at evening,
Sleepless, wept the dreary night long,
That his Aino had departed,
That the maiden thus had vanished,
Thus had sunk upon the bottom
Of the blue-sea, deep and boundless.
Filled with grief, the ancient singer,
Wainamoinen of the Northland,
Heavy-hearted, sorely weeping,
Hastened to the restless waters,
This the suitor's prayer and question:
'Tell, Untamo, tell me, dreamer,
Tell me, Indolence, thy visions,
Where the water-gods may linger,
Where may rest Wellamo's maidens?'
Then Untamo, thus made answer,
Lazily he told his dreamings:
'Over there, the mermaid-dwellings,
Yonder live Wellamo's maidens,
On the headland robed in verdure,
On the forest-covered island,
In the deep, pellucid waters,
On the purple-colored sea-shore;
Yonder is the home or sea-maids,
There the maidens of Wellamo,
Live there in their sea-side chambers,
Rest within their water-caverns,
On the rocks of rainbow colors,
On the juttings of the sea-cliffs.'
Straightway hastens Wainamoinen
To a boat-house on the sea-shore,
Looks with care upon the fish-hooks,
And the lines he well considers;
Lines, and hooks, and poles, arid fish-nets,
Places in a boat of copper,
Then begins he swiftly rowing
To the forest-covered island,
To the point enrobed In verdure,
To the purple-colored headland,
Where the sea-nymphs live and linger.
Hardly does he reach the island
Ere the minstrel starts to angle;
Far away he throws his fish-hook,
Trolls it quickly through the waters,
Turning on a copper swivel
Dangling from a silver fish-line,
Golden is the hook he uses.
Now he tries his silken fish-net,
Angles long, and angles longer,
Angles one day, then a second,
In the morning, in the evening,
Angles at the hour of noontide,
Many days and nights he angles,
Till at last, one sunny morning,
Strikes a fish of magic powers,
Plays like salmon on his fish-line,
Lashing waves across the waters,
Till at length the fish exhausted
Falls a victim to the angler,
Safely landed in the bottom
Of the hero's boat of copper.
Wainamoinen, proudly viewing,
Speaks these words in wonder guessing:
'This the fairest of all sea-fish,
Never have I seen its equal,
Smoother surely than the salmon,
Brighter-spotted than the trout is,
Grayer than the pike of Suomi,
Has less fins than any female,
Not the fins of any male fish,
Not the stripes of sea-born maidens,
Not the belt of any mermaid,
Not the ears of any song-bird,
Somewhat like our Northland salmon
From the blue-sea's deepest caverns.'
In his belt the ancient hero
Wore a knife insheathed with silver;
From its case he drew the fish-knife,
Thus to carve the fish in pieces,
Dress the nameless fish for roasting,
Make of it a dainty breakfast,
Make of it a meal at noon-day,
Make for him a toothsome supper,
Make the later meal at evening.
Straightway as the fish he touches,
Touches with his knife of silver,
Quick it leaps upon the waters,
Dives beneath the sea's smooth surface,
From the boat with copper bottom,
From the skiff of Wainamoinen.
In the waves at goodly distance,
Quickly from the sea it rises
On the sixth and seventh billows,
Lifts its head above the waters,
Out of reach of fishing-tackle,
Then addresses Wainamoinen,
Chiding thus the ancient hero:
'Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
Do not think that I came hither
To be fished for as a salmon,
Only to be chopped in pieces,
Dressed and eaten like a whiting
Make for thee a dainty breakfast,
Make for thee a meal at midday,
Make for thee a toothsome supper,
Make the fourth meal of the Northland.'
Spake the ancient Wainamoinen:
'Wherefore didst thou then come hither,
If it be not for my dinner?'
Thus the nameless fish made answer:
'Hither have I come, O minstrel,
In thine arms to rest and linger,
And thyself to love and cherish,
At thy side a life-companion,
And thy wife to be forever;
Deck thy couch with snowy linen,
Smooth thy head upon the pillow,
Sweep thy rooms and make them cheery,
Keep thy dwelling-place in order,
Build a fire for thee when needed,
Bake for thee the honey-biscuit,
Fill thy cup with barley-water,
Do for thee whatever pleases.
'I am not a scaly sea-fish,
Not a trout of Northland rivers,
Not a whiting from the waters,
Not a salmon of the North-seas,
I, a young and merry maiden,
Friend and sister of the fishes,
Youkahainen's youngest sister,
I, the one that thou dost fish for,
I am Aino whom thou lovest.
'Once thou wert the wise-tongued hero,
Now the foolish Wainamoinen,
Scant of insight, scant of judgment,
Didst not know enough to keep me,
Cruel-hearted, bloody-handed,
Tried to kill me with thy fish-knife,
So to roast me for thy dinner;
I, a mermaid of Wellamo,
Once the fair and lovely Aino,
Sister dear of Youkahainen.'
Spake the ancient Wainamoinen,
Filled with sorrow, much regretting:
'Since thou'rt Youkahainen's sister,
Beauteous Aino of Pohyola,
Come to me again I pray thee!'
Thus the mermaid wisely answered;
Nevermore will Aino's spirit
Fly to thee and be ill-treated.'
Quickly dived the water-maiden
From the surface of the billow
To the many-colored pebbles,
To the rainbow-tinted grottoes
Where the mermaids live and linger.
Wainamoinen, not discouraged,
Thought afresh and well reflected,
How to live, and work, and win her;
Drew with care his silken fish-net,
To and fro through foam and billow,
Through the bays and winding channels,
Drew it through the placid waters,
Drew it through the salmon-dwellings,
Through the homes of water-maidens,
Through the waters of Wainola,
Through the blue-back of the ocean,
Through the lakes of distant Lapland,
Through the rivers of Youkola,
Through the seas of Kalevala,
Hoping thus to find his Aino.
Many were the fish be landed,
Every form of fish-like creatures,
But be did not catch the sea-maid,
Not Wellamo's water-maiden,
Fairest daughter of the Northland.
Finally the ancient minstrel,
Mind depressed, and heart discouraged,
Spake these words, immersed in sorrow:
'Fool am I, and great my folly,
Having neither wit nor judgment;
Surely once I had some knowledge,
Had some insight into wisdom,
Had at least a bit of instinct;
But my virtues all have left me
In these mournful days of evil,
Vanished with my youth and vigor,
Insight gone, and sense departed,
All my prudence gone to others!
Aino, whom I love and cherish,
All these years have sought to honor,
Aino, now Wellamo's maiden,
Promised friend of mine when needed,
Promised bride of mine forever,
Once I had within my power,
Caught her in Wellamo's grottoes,
Led her to my boat of copper,
With my fish-line made of silver;
But alas! I could not keep her,
Did not know that I had caught her
Till too late to woo and win her;
Let her slip between my fingers
To the home of water-maidens,
To the kingdom of Wellamo.'
Wainamoinen then departed,
Empty-handed, heavy-hearted,
Straightway hastened to his country,
To his home in Kalevala,
Spake these words upon his journey:
'What has happened to the cuckoo,
Once the cuckoo bringing gladness,
In the morning, in the evening,
Often bringing joy at noontide?
What has stilled the cuckoo's singing,
What has changed the cuckoo's calling?
Sorrow must have stilled his singing,
And compassion changed his calling,
As I hear him sing no longer,
For my pleasure in the morning,
For my happiness at evening.
Never shall I learn the secret,
How to live and how to prosper,
How upon the earth to rest me,
How upon the seas to wander!
Only were my ancient mother
Living on the face of Northland,
Surely she would well advise me,
What my thought and what my action,
That this cup of grief might pass me,
That this sorrow might escape me,
And this darkened cloud pass over.'
In the deep awoke his mother,
From her tomb she spake as follows:
'Only sleeping was thy mother,
Now awakes to give thee answer,
What thy thought and what thine action,
That this cup of grief may pass thee,
That this sorrow may escape thee,
And this darkened cloud pass over.
Hie thee straightway to the Northland,
Visit thou the Suomi daughters;
Thou wilt find them wise and lovely,
Far more beautiful than Aino,
Far more worthy of a husband,
Not such silly chatter-boxes,
As the fickle Lapland maidens.
Take for thee a life-companion,
From the honest homes of Suomi,
One of Northland's honest daughters;
She will charm thee with her sweetness,
Make thee happy through her goodness,
Form perfection, manners easy,
Every step and movement graceful,
Full of wit and good behavior,
Honor to thy home and kindred.'

Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010

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