Friday, August 31, 2012

Two Minstrels' Rune Medley

MASTERED by desire impulsive,
By a mighty inward urging,
I am ready now for singing,
Ready to begin the chanting
Of our nation's ancient folk-song
Handed down from by-gone ages.

In my mouth the words are melting,
From my lips the tones are gliding,
From my tongue they wish to hasten;
When my willing teeth are parted,
When my ready mouth is opened,
Songs of ancient wit and wisdom.

There are many other legends,
Incantations that were taught me,
That I found along the wayside,
Gathered in the fragrant copses,
Blown me from the forest branches,
Culled among the plumes of pine-trees,
Scented from the vines and flowers,
Whispered to me as I followed

Flocks in land of honeyed meadows,
Over hillocks green and golden,
After sable-haired Murikki,
And the many-colored Kimmo.

Many runes the cold has told me,
Many lays the rain has brought me,
Other songs the winds have sung me;
Many birds from many forests,
Oft have sung me lays n concord
Waves of sea, and ocean billows,
Music from the many waters.

Music from the whole creation,
Oft have been my guide and master.
Sentences the trees created,
Rolled together into bundles,
Moved them to my ancient dwelling.

On the sledges to my cottage,
Tied them to my garret rafters,
Hung them on my dwelling-portals,
Laid them in a chest of boxes.

Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
Passed his years in full contentment,
On the meadows of Wainola,
On the plains of Kalevala,
Singing ever wondrous legends,
Songs of ancient wit and wisdom.
Chanting one day, then a second,
Singing in the dusk of evening,
Singing till the dawn of morning,
Now the tales of old-time heroes,
Tales of ages long forgotten.

Now the legends of creation,
Once familiar to the children,
By our children sung no longer,
Sung in part by many heroes.
In these mournful days of evil,
Evil days our race befallen.

Far and wide the story travelled,
Far away men spread the knowledge
Of the chanting of the hero,
Of the song of Wainamoinen.

Still the minstrel sings enchantment,
Sings his sword with golden handle,
Sings it into gleam of lightning,
Hangs it in the sky above him.

Sings his cross-bow, gaily painted,
To a rainbow o'er the ocean;
Sings his quick and feathered arrows
Into hawks and screaming eagles.

Sings his dog with bended muzzle,
Into block of stone beside him;
Sings his cap from off his forehead,
Sings it into wreaths of vapor.
From his hands he sings his gauntlets
Into rushes on the waters;
Sings his vesture, purple-colored,
Into white clouds in the heavens;
Sings his girdle, set with jewels,
Into twinkling stars around him.

"Aino, beauty of the Northland,
Wear not, lovely maid, for others,
Only wear for me, sweet maiden,
Golden cross upon thy bosom,
Shining pearls upon thy shoulders;
Bind for me thine auburn tresses,
Wear for me thy golden braidlets."

Thus the maiden quickly answered:
"Not for thee and not for others,
Hang I from my neck the crosslet.

Deck my hair with silken ribbons;
Need no more the many trinkets
Brought to me by ship or shallop;
Sooner wear the simplest raiment.
Feed upon the barley bread-crust,
Dwell forever with my mother
In the cabin with my father."

Then she threw the gold cross from her,
Tore the jewels from her fingers,
Quickly loosed her shining necklace,
Quick untied her silken ribbons,
Cast them all away indignant
Into forest ferns and flowers.

Thereupon the maiden, Aino,
Hastened to her mother's cottage.

Loudly does the pine-tree answer:
"All the ships that have been fashioned
From my body are unworthy;
I am full of imperfections,
Cannot give thee needed timber.

Wherewithal to build thy vessel;
Ravens live within my branches,
Build their nests and hatch their younglings
Three times in my trunk in summer."
Sampsa leaves the lofty pine-tree,
Wanders onward, onward, onward,
To the woods of gladsome summer,
Where an oak-tree comes to meet him.

In circumference, three fathoms,
And the oak he thus addresses:
"Ancient oak-tree, will thy body
Furnish wood to build a vessel?

Build a boat for Wainamoinen,
Master-boat for the magician,
Wisest of the wisdom-singers?"

Thus the oak replies to Sampsa:
"I for thee will gladly furnish
Wood to build the hero's vessel;
I am tall, and sound, and hardy,
Have no flaws within my body.

Three times in the months of summer,
In the warmest of the seasons,
Does the sun dwell in my tree-top,
On my trunk the moonlight glimmers,
In my branches sings the cuckoo,
In my top her nestlings slumber."

Quick he changes his complexion,
Changes too his form and feature,
Slips into another body;
Like a serpent in a circle,
Rolls black-dyed upon the waters;
Like a snake among the willows,
Crawls he like a worm of magic,
Like an adder through the grasses,

Through the coal-black stream of death-land,
Through a thousand nets of copper
Interlaced with threads of iron,
From the kingdom of Tuoni,
From the castles of Manala.
Mana's son, the wicked wizard,
With his iron-pointed fingers,
In the early morning hastens
To his thousand nets of copper,
Set within the Tuoni river,
Finds therein a countless number
Of the death-stream fish and serpents.

Elias Lonnrot

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