Kalevala

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The Kalevala is a Finnish mythological poem, compiled by the 19th century folklorist Elias Lönnrot from traditional ballads and some original material. It is considered the Finnish national epic, and has profoundly influenced artists as diverse as Tolkien, Sibelius and Longfellow.
Quotations are taken from the English translation by John Martin Crawford.



  • 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.
    • Proem, line 53


  • 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.
    • Proem, line 65


  • Thus the ancient Wainamoinen,
    In his copper-banded vessel,
    Left his tribe in Kalevala,
    Sailing o'er the rolling billows,
    Sailing through the azure vapors,
    Sailing through the dusk of evening,
    Sailing to the fiery sunset,
    To the higher-landed regions,
    To the lower verge of heaven;
    • Canto 50, line 493


  • There his bark he firmly anchored,
    Rested in his boat of copper;
    But be left his harp of magic,
    Left his songs and wisdom-sayings,
    To the lasting joy of Suomi.
    • Canto 50, line 504


  • Thus the wise and worthy singer
    Sings not all his garnered wisdom;
    Better leave unsung some sayings
    Than to sing them out of season.
    • Epilogue, line 20


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