Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Ilmarinen's Fruitless Wooing

SO ILMARINEN cast the maid of gold into a corner of his smithy and harnessed up his sledge and drove off to the dismal Northland, to ask Louhi to give him another of her daughters in marriage. Three days he journeyed, and on the evening of the third he reached old Louhi's home.

               Louhi asked him how her daughter, the Rainbow-maiden, fared, and Ilmarinen, with hanging head and sorrowful face, told how his poor wife had perished, and ended up his story by asking Louhi to give him her next fairest daughter to be his wife. But Louhi grew angry and upbraided him with not having guarded her other daughter, and thus being guilty of her death, and she scornfully refused to give him another of her daughters.

               But Ilmarinen went into the house in great anger and there addressed Louhi's next fairest daughter, begging her to come to his home with him and become his wife. The maid replied: 'I will never marry the man who has been the cause of my dear sister's death. And even if I were to marry I would wish a nobler suitor than a mere blacksmith.' Then Ilmarinen grew pale with anger, and seizing the maiden in his mighty arms he rushed off to his sledge and drove off like the wind before any one could stop him.

               The poor maid wept and begged Ilmarinen to release her and to let her die by the roadside, rather than to take her thus to his home. 'If thou wilt not release me,' she said, 'I will change into a salmon and escape thee.' But Ilmarinen told her that he would pursue her in the shape of a pike. Then the maiden said, first, that she would become an ermine, but Ilmarinen told her he would turn into a snake and catch her; and then she said that she would become a swallow, but Ilmarinen threatened to become an eagle.

               So they drove on and on, and the maiden wept the whole time, and begged Ilmarinen to let her go, even if it were only to die in the snow, but he refused and grew more and more angry at her obstinacy. At length they reached Ilmarinen's home and he took the maiden into the house. But here, seeing there was no hope of escape, she determined to make him so angry that he would kill her and thus she would be freed from him. So she began to make fun of him and to scorn him and laugh at him, until at length Ilmarinen was in such a rage that he scarcely knew what he was doing, and drew his sword to kill her.

               But the sword refused to do this cruel deed, saying: 'I was born to drink the blood of warriors, but not of such a pure and lovely maid as this.' So Ilmarinen, being unable to kill her, began to weave a magic spell about her, and in a few minutes she changed all of a sudden into a seagull, and flew off screaming towards the sea-cliffs.

               And when he had done this, Ilmarinen went out and got into his sledge and drove off to his brother Wainamoinen. When he arrived, Wainamoinen asked him why he was so sad, and whether all was well in Pohjola. To this Ilmarinen replied: 'Why should not all be well in Pohjola? They have the Sampo there, and until it leaves them they will always prosper.' And then Wainamoinen asked him of the maiden whom he had gone to woo. 'I have turned that hateful maid into a seagull,' Ilmarinen answered, frowning, 'and now she flies shrieking above the rolling waves, and will never have another suitor.'

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Ilmarinen's Fruitless Wooing
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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