Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Birth of the Second Kantele, THe

WHEN the heroes had returned home, and found the fragments of the Sampo on the shore, they wished to make merry over the good fortune which even these fragments were sure to bring, but Wainamoinen could not give them music, since the wondrous kantele had been lost in the sea. Then he bade Ilmarinen make a huge rake with copper teeth a hundred fathoms long and the handle a thousand fathoms, and when the rake was ready, Wainamoinen took it, and sailing out over the sea in a magic vessel that needed neither sails nor oars to move it, he raked over the whole bottom of the ocean. But he only raked up shells and seaweed, and found no trace of the kantele.

               Then Wainamoinen returned sadly home, saying: 'Never again shall I pour forth floods of music to the people of Kalevala from the magic strings of my kantele.' And driven on by his grief he left his house and went far off into the forest. As he wandered there he heard the birch-tree lamenting, and Wainamoinen asked the tree why it was unhappy when it had such lovely silver leaves and tassels. To this the birch-tree replied: 'Thou thinkest that I am always happy, and that my leaves and tassels must always be whispering joy. But, alas! I am so weak and feeble, and must always stand alone without a word of sympathy. Others rejoice at the coming of the spring, but I am robbed of bark and tassels and tender twigs, and am cut up for firewood, and then in the winter time the frost and the cold biting winds kill my young shoots and strip me of my silver leaves and leave me cold and naked.'

               While the birch-tree was speaking, Wainamoinen's face began to brighten, and he finally exclaimed: 'Weep no more, good birch-tree, for I will turn thy grief into joy and make thee sing the most marvellous songs.' Having said this he set to work to make a new kantele, taking birch-wood for the framework. At length the frame was all ready, but he did not know of what to make the pegs. Suddenly he came upon a great oak-tree on which grew golden-coloured acorns, and on each acorn sat a sacred cuckoo singing its melody. So Wainamoinen took a piece of the oak and made the pegs from it.

               But the harp was not yet finished, for the five strings were still lacking. Then Wainamoinen journeyed on through the forest, until at length he came to where a forest-maiden was sitting on a mound and singing, and her long golden hair was falling loose over her shoulders. So Wainamoinen went up to her and begged her to give him some of her golden tresses, from which to weave the five strings for the kantele. And the maiden willingly gave up a portion of her golden hair, and from it Wainamoinen wove five strings, and at last the second kantele was complete. Then Wainamoinen sat down upon a rock and placed the kantele upon his knees, and after putting all the strings in tune he began to play. The fairy music resounded over hill and dale, until at length the very mountains began to dance with delight, and the rocks were rent in sunder and floated on the surface of the ocean. The trees of the forest, too, laughed with joy and began to dance about like children. The young men and maidens rejoiced as they listened to the music, and the gray-haired men and women were amazed, while the babies tried to crawl to where the sweet sounds came from.

               The magic music resounded far and wide over Kalevala, and all the wild beasts of the forest fell upon their knees in wonder, while the birds perched upon the trees about him and accompanied the music with their singing. The fish left their homes beneath the waters and crowded to the shore to listen. And everything in nature, from earth and air and water, came to listen to the magic sweetness of Wainamoinen's playing.

               Three days and more he played unceasing; playing in the houses of his people until their very beams rejoiced, and wandering through the forest, where the trees all bent in homage to him and waved their branches to his music. Then over the meadows, still playing, until the very ferns and flowers laughed with delight and the bushes chimed in in unison with the magic music of the kantele.

               'Oh! I'm so glad that he got another kantele,' cried little Mimi, delighted. 'And now what is coming next, Pappa Mikko?'

               'I shall tell you all of Louhi's attempt at revenge on the heroes who captured the Sampo,' he replied; 'and how they all failed, and then I shall wind up with the last story of all!'

               After having rested a while, the old man continued.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Birth of the Second Kantele, THe
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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