Steady old Väinämöinen
is living his times
in those glades of Väinö-land
on the Kalevala heaths
is singing his tales
singing, practising his craft.
He sang day by day
night by night he recited
ancient memories
those deep Origins
which not all the children sing
only fellows understand
in this evil age
with time running out.
Far and wide the news is heard
outward the tidings travel
of Väinämöinen's singing
the fellow's cunning;
the tidings travelled southward
the news reached Northland.

Now, the young Joukahainen
a lean Lappish lad
once went visiting
and he heard of wondrous words
of songs being put about
better ones being set forth
in those glades of Väinö-land
on the Kalevala heaths
than the ones he knew himself
had learned from his father.
He took that very badly
spent all his time envying
Väinämöinen, said to be
a better singer than him.
Now he came to his mother
his honoured parent
and announced that he would go
said he hoped to come
to those Väinö-land cabins
to take on Väinö.

The father forbade his son
father forbade, mother banned
his going to Väinö-land
to take on Väinö:
'There you will be sung
you'll be sung and chanted, face
into snow, head into drifts
fists into hard air
until your hands cannot turn
until your feet cannot move.'

The young Joukahainen said:
'My father's wisdom is good
my mother's even better
but my own is the highest.
If I want to draw level
measure up to men
I'll sing at who sings at me
and recite at who recites at me
I'll sing at the best singer
till he is the worst singer--
on his feet sing shoes of stone
trousers of wood on his loins
a stone anchor on his breast
a stone slab on his shoulders
mittens of stone on his hands
on his head a rock helmet.'

At that he left, did not heed.
He took off his own gelding
whose muzzle struck fire
and whose shanks struck sparks
harnessed the fiery gelding
in front of the golden sleigh.
He sits in the sledge
settles in his sleigh
struck the courser with the lash
hit it with the beaded whip
and off the courser galloped
the horse dashed away.
He swishes along
he drove one day, he drove two
soon he drove a third as well.
Now upon the third day he
reached the glades of Väinö-land
the heaths of Kalevala.

Steady old Väinämöinen
the everlasting wise man
was driving along his roads
pacing out his ways
in those glades of Väinö-land
on the Kalevala heaths.
The young Joukahainen came
drove down the road to face him:
shaft seized on shaft-end
traces tangled with traces
hames were jammed with hames
and collar-bow tip with tip.
Then and there was a full stop
a full stop, a pauce for thought...
sweat poured from the collar-bow
from the shafts steam rose.

The old Väinämöinen asked:
'Of what kin are you
coming foolishly forward
this way recklessly
smashing the hames of bent wood
the collar-bows of young wood
my sleigh to splinters
into bits the toboggan?'

Then the young Joukahainen
uttered a word and spoke thus:
'I am young Joukahainen.
But say what your own kin is:
of what kin are you
of what rabble, wretch?'

Steady old Väinämöinen
thereupon said who he was
and then he declared:
'Since you're young Joukahainen
draw aside a bit!
You're younger than me.'

Then the young Joukahainen
uttered a word and spoke thus:
'Not a bit does a man's youth
his youth or his age matter!
Who is better in wisdom
mightier in recalling--
let him stand fast on the road
the other shift off the road.
If you're old Väinämöinen
the everlasting singer
let us start singing
begin reciting
with man testing man
one defeating the other!'

Steady old Väinämöinen
uttered a word and spoke thus:
'Well now, what of me
as singer, as cunning man?
I've lived all my time only
in these glades, at these edges
of the home-field, listening
to the home-cuckoo.
Be that as it may
tell me that my ears may hear:
what do you know most about
understand above others?'

The young Joukahainen said:
'Well, I know a thing or two!
This I know plainly
and grasp thoroughly:
the smoke-hole is in the roof
the flame in the hearth.
The seal enjoys a good life
the water-dog rolls about:
it eats salmon close by it
whitefish at its side.
The whitefish's fields are smooth
the salmon's roof is level.
The pike spawns during the frost
slobber-chops in hard weather.
The perch, shy, crook-necked
in autumn swims in the deep
in summer spawns on dry land
thrashes about on the shores.
'Should not enough come of that
I know other wisdom too
I am aware of one thing:
the north ploughed with the reindeer
the south with the mare
far Lapland with the wild ox.
I know trees on Pisa Hill
the firs on the Demon's Cliff:
tall the trees on Pisa Hill
and the firs on Demon's Cliff.
Three there are of steep
rapids, three great lakes
and three high mountains
under this sky's vault:
In Häme are Hällä Falls
Kaatra in Karelia;
but none has conquered Vuoksi
nor gone over Imatra.'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'Child's wisdom, woman's recall
is for no bearded fellow
nor for a man with a wife!
Tell me of deep Origins
of eternal things!'
Young Joukahainen
uttered a word and spoke thus:
'I know of the tomtit's Origin
that the tomtit is a bird
the green viper is a snake
the ruff is a fish.
Iron I know is brittle
black soil is bitter
and hot water hurts
and a burn is bad.
Water is the oldest of ointments
rapid-foam of remedies
and the Lord of soothsayers
and God of healers.
A mountain is water's Origin
and fire's Origin is heaven
the source of iron is rust
and copper's root is a cliff.
A wet hummock is the oldest land
a willow the first of trees
a fir root first of dwellings
and a stone the first crude pot.'
Steady old Väinämöinen
put this into words:
'Do you recall any more
or has your babble ended?'
The young Joukahainen said:
'I recall a bit more too!
Now I recall such a time
as I was ploughing the sea
grubbing the sea's gulfs
digging the fish-troughs
deepening the depths
laying out the pool-waters
stirring up the hills
piling up the crags.
What's more, I was the sixth man
the seventh fellow
when this earth was made
when the sky was built
when the sky's pillar was fixed
when heaven's arch was borne up
when the moon was moved
when the sun was helped
when the Great Bear was stretched out
when heaven was filled with stars.'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'Truly you have lied!
You were never seen
when the sea was ploughed
the sea's gulfs were grubbed
the fish-troughs were dug
the depths were deepened
the pool-waters were laid out
the hills were stirred up
and the crags piled up
nor yet were you seen
neither seen nor heard
when this earth was made
when the sky was built
when the sky's pillar was fixed
when heaven's arch was borne up
when the moon was moved
when the sun was helped
when the Great Bear was stretched out
when heaven was filled with stars.'
Young Joukahainen
at that put this into words:
'Since I do not have the wits
I shall ask wits of my sword.
Old Väinämöinen
singer with the gaping mouth
let the sword decide
go with the brand's view!'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'I shall not much fear
those swords of yours, wits of yours
those ice-picks, those tricks of yours.
Be that as it may
I'll not let the sword decide
with you, you mean boy
with yourself, poor wretch.'
At that young Joukahainen
twisted his mouth, turned his head
and twisted his black whiskers
and he put this into words:
'Who'll not let the sword decide
and not go with the brand's view
I will sing into a pig
put into a low-snouted
and I will treat such fellows
that one thus and this one so--
will treat into a dunghill
dump in a cowshed corner.'
Väinämöinen grew angry
at that, angry and ashamed.
He himself started singing
himself began reciting:
the songs are not children's songs
children's songs, women's cackle
but for a bearded fellow
which not all the children sing
nor do half the boys
nor a third of the suitors
in this evil age
with time running out.
The old Väinämöinen sang:
the lakes rippled, the earth shook
the copper mountains trembled
the sturdy boulders rumbled
the cliffs flew in two
the rocks cracked upon the shores.
He sang young Joukahainen--
saplings on his collar-bow
a willow shrub on his hames
goat willows on his trace-tip
sang his gold-trimmed sleigh
sang it to treetrunks in pools
sang his whip knotted with beads
to reeds on a shore
sang his blaze-browed horse
to rocks on a rapid's bank;
he sang his gold-hilted sword
to lightnings in heaven
then his bright-butted crossbow
to rainbows upon waters
and then his feathered arrows
to swift-flying hawks
and then his dog of hooked jaw
to rocks on the ground;
he sang the cap off his head
to a piled-up bank of cloud
sang the mittens off his hands
to lilies on a still pool
then his blue cloth coat
to vapours in heaven
from his waist the fine-wove belt
to stars across heaven;
he sang him, Joukahainen
in a swamp up to his waist
in a meadow to his groin
in the heath to his armpits.
By now young Joukahainen
knew and realized--
knew that he had come this way
undertaken the journey
to take on, to sing
with the old Väinämöinen.
He worked his foot free
but could not lift it;
so he tried the other too
but it wore a shoe of stone.
Then for young Joukahainen
things become painful
things turn out more troublesome.
He uttered a word, spoke thus:
'Shrewd Väinämöinen
O everlasting wise man
whirl your holy words around
take back your phrases:
get me out of this tight spot
from this matter set me free!
I will lay down the best price
pay the heaviest ransom.'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'All right, what will you give me
if I whirl my holy words
around, take back my phrases
get you out of that tight spot
from that matter set you free?'
The young Joukahainen said:
'Well, I have two bows
two handsome crossbows:
one is quick to strike
one has a straight aim.
Take either of them!'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'I don't care for your crossbows
wild one, for your bows, mean one!
I have some myself
stacked up against every wall
stored on every peg:
without men they go hunting
without fellows work outdoors.'
He sang young Joukahainen
sang him still deeper.
The young Joukahainen said:
'Well, I have two craft
two beautiful boats:
one is light to race
one carries a lot.
Take either of them!'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'I do not care for your craft
for your boats I don't complain!
I have some myself
hauled up on every roller
and laid up in every cove:
one is steady in the wind
one makes way in bad weather.'
He sang young Joukahainen
sang him still deeper.
The young Joukahainen said:
'I have two stallions
two handsome horses:
one runs more nimbly
one frisks in traces.
Take either of them!'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'I don't care for your horses
grieve for your white-fetlocked ones!
I have some myself
tied up in every manger
led into every barnyard
with clear water on their backs
with pools of fat on their rumps.'
He sang young Joukahainen
sang him still deeper.
The young Joukahainen said:
'Old Väinämöinen
whirl your holy words around
take back your phrases! I'll give
a helmetful of gold coins
a felt hatful of silver--
my father's war-spoils
brought home from battle.'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'I don't care for your silver
nor ask, wretch, for your gold coins!
I have some myself
crammed in every shed
stored in every box--
gold eternal as the moon
silver ancient as the sun.'
He sang young Joukahainen
sang him still deeper.
The young Joukahainen said:
'Old Väinämöinen
get me out of this tight spot
from this matter set me free!
I will give my ricks at home
surrender my sandy fields
to save my own skin
to redeem myself.'
The old Väinämöinen said:
'I do not yearn for your ricks
rascal, for your sandy fields!
I have some myself--
fields in every direction
ricks in every glade
and my own are better fields
my own ricks sweeter.'
He sang young Joukahainen
sang him even further down.
Then the young Joukahainen
was at his wits' end
up to his chin in the slime
to his beard in the bad place
to his mouth in swamp mosses
his teeth stuck in a treetrunk.
And young Joukahainen said:
'Shrewd Väinämöinen
O everlasting wise man
sing your song backwards
spare yet a weak life
and get me away from here!
Now the stream tugs at my foot
the sand is grinding my eyes.
If you whirl your holy words
around and call off your spell
I'll give Aino my sister
I will yield my mother's child
to clean out your hut
and to sweep your floor
rinse your wooden plates
to wash out your cloaks
weave your golden cloak
bake your honey-bread.'
Then the old Väinämöinen
was utterly delighted
to have Joukahainen's maid
care for him in his old age.
He sits on the rock of joy
on the song-boulder settles:
he sang one moment, sang two
sang a third moment as well
whirled his holy words away
took back his phrases.
Young Joukahainen was free
with his chin out of the slime
his beard out of the bad place
the horse from the rapid-rock
the sledge from the shore treetrunk
and the whip from the shore reed.
He clambered into his sleigh
flung himself into his sledge
went away; in bad spirits
with a gloomy heart
to his dear mother
towards his honoured parent.
He rumbles along
he drove home oddly
smashed his sledge against the kiln
the shafts to bits on the steps.
His mother began to guess
and his father says a word:
'Needlessly you've smashed your sledge
on purpose broken the shaft!
So why do you ride oddly
come home stupidly?'
At that young Joukahainen
weeps a flood of tears
his head down, in bad spirits
helmet all askew
his lips grimly set
his nose drooped over his mouth.
His mother hastened to ask
the pains-taker to question:
'Why do you weep, my offspring
fruit of my youth, why lament?
Why are your lips grimly set
your nose drooped over your mouth?'
The young Joukahainen said:
'O mother who carried me!
Cause has arisen
and magic has taken place--
cause enough for me to weep
magic for me to lament!
For this I'll weep all my days
grieve my lifetime through:
I have given my sister
Aino, pledged my mother's child
to care for Väinämöinen
to be mate to the singer
refuge for the dodderer
shelter for the nook-haunter.'
The mother rubbed her
two palms together;
she uttered a word, spoke thus:
'Don't weep, my offspring!
There is nothing to weep for
to grieve greatly for:
this I've hoped for all my days
longed my lifetime through--
a great man for my
kin, a bold man for my stock;
Väinämöinen for my son-in-law
the singer for my brother-in-law.'
Young Joukahainen's sister
for her part fell to weeping.
She wept one day, she wept two
sideways on the steps:
she wept from great grief
and from low spirits.
Her mother began to say:
'Why do you weep, my Aino
when you will come to a great
bridegroom's, a lofty man's home
to sit at windows
prattle on benches?'
The daughter put this in words:
'O mother who carried me!
I have something to weep for--
the beauty of my tresses
the thickness of my young locks
and the fineness of my hair
if they're hidden while I'm small
covered while I am growing.
For this I'll weep all my days--
for the sweetness of the sun
for the splendid moonlight's grace
for all the sky's loveliness
if while young I must leave them
as a child leave them behind
to my brother's carving-grounds
to my father's window seats.'
The mother says to the girl
the eldest spoke to her child:
'Begone, madcap, with your cares
good-for-nothing, with your tears!
There is no cause to be glum
no reason to be downcast.
God's sun also shines
elsewhere in the world--
not at your father's windows
your brother's gateway.
There are berries on a hill
and in glades strawberries too
for you, luckless one, to pick
further afield, not always
in your father's glades, upon
your brother's burnt-over heaths.'