Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Wainamoinen Finds the Lost Words

WAINAMOINEN had failed to find the three magic words in the Deathland, and now he sat and pondered whither he should go next to seek them. While he was thinking over this, a shepherd came to him and said: 'Thou canst find a thousand words of wisdom on the tongue of the dead hero Wipunen. I know the road that leads to his grave: first, thou must journey a long distance over the points of needles, and then a long way upon the edges of sharp swords, and then a third road on the edges of hatchets.'

               Then Wainamoinen considered how he should be able to walk over the needles and swords and hatchets, and at last hit on a plan. He went to the smith Ilmarinen and bade him make shoes of iron, and gloves of copper, and a magic staff of the sent by mighty Ukko, for if so I will be resigned, but if thou art of some human race, I will search out thy tribe and destroy it. Leave my body, cease thy forging, let me rest in peace and slumber. Or if thou wilt not leave me, I will call on all the great magicians of the past, the spirits of the mountains and woods and seas and rivers, on Ilmatar, daughter of the ether, to assist me. Or if these be not sufficient, I will call on mighty Ukko to drive thee forth. If thou art from the winds, then return to the copper mountains where they live; if from the sea, return to it; if from the forests, then return to them, or I will drive thee to the bottom of the coal-black river of Tuoni, whence thou shalt never move again.'

               'I am well contented here,' said Wainamoinen, 'in these roomy caverns. I can eat thy heart and flesh and for drink I will take thy blood. And I will set my forge still deeper in thy vitals, and will swing my hammer still harder on thy heart and lungs and liver. I shall never leave thee until I learn all thy wisdom, and the three lost words, that all thy magic knowledge may not perish with thee from the earth.'

               Then Wipunen began to sing all his knowledge and his magic spells for Wainamoinen. He sang the origin of witchcraft, the source of good and evil and how by the will of Ukko the water was first divided from the ether. And next he sang of how the moon and sun were made, and whence the colours of the rainbow came, and how the stars were sprinkled in the sky. Three whole days and nights he sang, until the stars and the moon stood still to listen, and the very waves of the sea and the tides ceased to rise and fall, and the rivers stopped in their courses.

               At length Wainamoinen had learned all the wisdom of the great magician, and the three lost words, and he made ready to leave Wipunen's body, bidding him open wide his mouth that he might get out and leave him for ever.

               'I have eaten many things, O Wainamoinen,' said Wipunen, 'bears and reindeer, wolves and oxen, but never such a thing as thou. Now thou hast found the wisdom that thou seekest, go in peace and never come back to me.'

               Then he opened his mouth wide, and Wainamoinen glided forth and hastened swiftly as the deer to Kalevala. First he went into the smithy, and Ilmarinen asked him if he had learned the lost words that would enable him to finish his vessel. 'I have learned a thousand magic words,' answered Wainamoinen, 'and among them are the lost words that I sought.'

               Thereupon he hastened off to where his vessel lay, and with the three lost words he joined the stem and stern and raised the bulwarks. Thus he had built the vessel with magic alone, and by magic art he launched it too, not touching it with foot or knee or hand, using only magic to push it. Thus was the

               'Oh! do hurry and tell us about that,' said Mimi, and Father Mikko continued.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Wainamoinen Finds the Lost Words
Tale Author/Editor: Eivind, R.
Book Title: Finnish Legends for English Children
Book Author/Editor: Eivind, R.
Publisher: T. Fisher Unwin
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1893
Country of Origin: Finland
Classification: unclassified

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