Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Ilmarinen's Bride of Gold

AFTER Ilmarinen's wife had been so cruelly slain, he wept for three whole days and nights without ceasing. And after that for three months he did not go into his smithy nor even so much as lift his hammer from the ground. And as he mourned he cried: 'Woe is me, for all is weariness and sorrow now that my dear wife is slain, and there is no more rest for me in my home.'

               But after the three months of mourning were past, Ilmarinen went out and dug up a great quantity of gold and silver and cut down thirty sledge-loads of birch-trees, which he burnt to charcoal. Then he put the charcoal in the bottom of his furnace and laid a large piece of gold and a still larger piece of silver on top, and closing the furnace, he started the fire and set the workmen to blowing the bellows; but the men were lazy and let the fire go out. So Ilmarinen drove them all away and began to blow the fire by magic spells alone. Three days he worked the bellows by his magic spells, and on the evening of the third day he looked inside the furnace, hoping to see an image rising from the melted gold and silver. And there came forth a lovely lamb all gold and silver, and every one admired its beauty save Ilmarinen, who said: 'Get back into the furnace, for I only desire a beauteous bride, born of the melted gold and silver.'

               So he threw the lamb back into the furnace and added still more gold and silver and other magic metals, and then set his workmen to blow the bellows again. But they proved lazy this time too, and he had once more to use his magic spells to blow the fire. Again he looked into the furnace, on the evening of the third day, and this time there arose a colt of gold and silver and with hoofs of shining copper. Every one admired the beautiful colt save Ilmarinen, who threw it back into the furnace.

               Once more he added gold and silver and set the workmen to blow the bellows, but they neglected their work this time too. Then he blew the fire by magic, and cast other magic spells over the furnace, so that the gold and silver should grow into a lovely maiden. When he looked into the furnace on the evening of the third day, he saw at last the figure of a maiden rising from the flames, but it had neither feet nor hands nor ears. So Ilmarinen took her from the fire and forged unceasingly until feet and hands and ears were all completed, and the maiden was now the most beautiful that any one had ever seen, but yet she could not walk, nor talk, nor see, nor hear.

               But Ilmarinen carried the golden maiden out of the smithy and took her to the bath-room where he washed the golden and silver image and then took it and laid it in his couch, in his wife's place. That night he heaped up bear-skins and rugs of all kinds on top of the bed, hoping that the image would come to life from the warmth, but it was all in vain, and Ilmarinen was almost frozen himself when he rose next morning. Then he said to himself: 'Surely this lovely maiden was not meant to be my bride. I will take her to Wainamoinen, and perhaps she may come to life for him.'

               So off he went and offered the beautiful image to Wainamoinen, telling him that he had brought a lovely maiden to be Wainamoinen's bride now in his old age. But Wainamoinen, after praising the image's beauty, said: 'My dear brother Ilmarinen, it is better to throw this image back into thy furnace, and to forge from the melted metal a thousand useful trinkets. For I will never wed an image made of gold and silver.'

               And then Wainamoinen turned to those of his people who were standing near by, and said to them: 'Never bow to any image made of gold or silver, for they cannot see, nor hear, nor speak, and they will only bring you sorrow.'

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Ilmarinen's Bride of Gold
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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