Copyright. 1999. Elaman Opisto R.V.
John Major Jenkins. 1997

Runo 1. Prelude. Lönnrot, after the style of the rune singers, tells of his yearning to sing the poems of his people. The intimate relationship between poetry and nature is portrayed with images of nature singing; for example, the frost sings verses and the raindrops recite poems. Creation and the Birth of Väinämöinen. Ilmatar, the virgin of the air, leaves the loneliness of the sky and moves down to the sea, where the wind impregnates her. She drifts upon the waters for ages, pregnant but unable to give birth. A magical bird flies by and lays several eggs on Ilmatar's upraised knee. As the bird sits brooding in the nest, the heat makes Ilmatar jerk her knee, and the eggs begin to change. One breaks open and the lower half becomes the earth, the upper part becomes the sky, the yolk becomes the sun, and the white becomes the moon. During her thirty-year pregnancy with Väinämöinen, Ilmatar sculpts the cliffs, coves, beaches, meadows, forests, and other features of the earth and sea. Finally, Väinämöinen forces his way out of his mother and floats on the sea for another eight years before he reaches land.

Runo 2. The Sowing. After many years on the barren land, Väinämöinen asks Sampsa Pellervoinen to plant trees. They all thrive, except for the oak tree. So they find another oak acorn-seed and, for fertilizer, Tursas the sea gnome burns some hay that was gathered by five water nymphs. The acorn is planted and the oak that grows from it is so huge that it blocks out the sun. No one is able to chop it down. Finally, a tiny man emerges from the sea, who suddenly grows into a giant. He confidently fells the tree with three blows of his axe. The sun shines again. Now there are trees, grass, and berries, but as yet no barley. A little titmouse tells Väinämöinen that no barley will grow until he cuts down the trees. Väinämöinen does this, leaving only one birch tree standing. An eagle flies by and is so pleased that Väinämöinen left a tree to perch on that he strikes fire to burn the fallen trees. Väinämöinen plants seeds in the fresh mulch that results and barley begins to grow. This runo ends with the happy springtime song of the cuckoo.

Runo 3. The Singing Contest. Joukahainen, a young man from Lapland, hears of Väinämöinen's growing fame and challenges him to a singing duel. Väinämöinen easily outdoes him, and, angry at being bested, Joukahainen threatens Väinämöinen. However, Väinämöinen sings him, that is, magically enchants him, deep into a paralyzing swamp. Väinämöinen releases him when he promises him his sister Aino as a bride. Later, Aino is upset when she learns of this, but her mother is pleased at the prospect of Väinämöinen entering the family.

Runo 4. Aino. Väinämöinen happens upon Aino gathering sauna switches and tells her to adorn herself only for him. Aino, upset, tears off her adornments and races home, weeping. Her mother attempts to console her, but Aino is distraught at the idea of becoming an old man's bride. She goes to the sea to bathe, and is drawn into the water where she drowns.

Runo 5. Aino Lost Again. Grieving for Aino, Väinämöinen asks Untamo, the spirit of sleep, to tell him where the sea maidens live. He sets out to fish for them and catches a steelhead. However, it slips back into the water and transforms into Aino, who taunts Väinämöinen for having lost her a second time. He goes home heavy-hearted, where his mother Ilmatar advises him to travel to the north and court one of the daughters of Pohjola.

Runo 6. Joukahainen's Revenge. Crossing a river while journeying to Pohjola, Väinämöinen is ambushed and shot with an arrow by Joukahainen. His horse dead, Väinämöinen falls into the water and is swept out to sea, drifting at the mercy of the waves. Joukahainen goes home, exultant.

Runo 7. Väinämöinen's Rescue and Promise. After drifting for several days, Väinämöinen is rescued by an eagle, the same eagle who was thankful for the tree Väinämöinen had left for birds to perch on. The eagle leaves him in Pohjola, where a maid finds him weeping on the shore. Louhi, the mistress of Pohjola, takes him in and entertains him well, but Väinämöinen is anxious to return home. She gives him a horse to ride home on, and promises her daughter in marriage to the man who can forge the Sampo for her. Väinämöinen rides away, thinking he will get Ilmarinen to forge the Sampo, because he could not do it himself. As he departs, Louhi warns him not to look up on his way home.

Runo 8. Väinämöinen's Wound. However, riding home through the meadows, he does look up and sees the lovely maid of Pohjola, sitting on the rainbow, weaving. He tries to persuade her to come down and ride with him, but she refuses. They debate the merits of the single life versus the married life, and finally she makes him do a number of absurd tasks-tying an egg into a knot, splitting a horse hair with a dull knife, peeling birch bark from a stone, and so on. He does all of these, but the last task is to build a boat from the splinters of her spindle. While working three days on the boat, during a moment of inattention Väinämöinen gashes his knee with his axe. He tries to staunch the blood flow by singing magic verses, but he forgets the Origin of Iron blood-stopping rune. In pain, he sleighs off to find someone who knows it. Finally, he finds an old man who claims to have stopped worse bleeding.

Runo 9. The Healing of Väinämöinen. The old man also has forgotten some parts of the magical incantation, but Väinämöinen reminds him and he completes the healing spell. The flow of blood from Väinämöinen's knee stops, and the old man's son goes into the woods to gather ointments and salves to heal the wound. Väinämöinen recovers, and warns listeners not to take up impossible tasks on a dare, and acquiesce to the will of Jumala.

Runo 10. The Forging of the Sampo. Väinämöinen returns home and urges Ilmarinen to journey to Pohjola and forge the Sampo. Ilmarinen suspiciously hesitates and then refuses, but Väinämöinen tricks him by singing into existence an enchanting fir tree with the Great Bear (the Big Dipper) on its branches and the moon on its crown. Climbing up the tree, Ilmarinen is caught up in a whirlwind and is magically delivered to distant Pohjola. There, he is well received, and sets to work forging the Sampo. When it is done, the mistress of Pohjola locks it up in Pohjola's Stone Mountain. Ilmarinen then asks for the beautiful daughter's hand to wed, but is rebuffed. Dejected, he goes home and tells Väinämöinen that the Sampo has been built and is busy grinding things for Pohjola.

Runo 11. The Exploits of Lemminkäinen. Lemminkäinen is very handsome, but is also a rascal filled with wanderlust. He hears of Kyllikki, a beautiful island maiden much sought after, but disdainful of all her suitors. Lemminkäinen goes to the island to woo her, but she refuses him too, so he carries her away by force. Resisting at first, she finally gives in to his love when he promises to never go off to war. Likewise, she promises to never go to parties without him or gossip around the village. Lemminkäinen's mother is delighted with her new daughter-in-law.

Runo 12. The Broken Promise. While Lemminkäinen is away gathering fish, Kyllikki goes to a dance with her girlfriends in the village. Lemminkäinen finds out, and, his trust shattered, he angrily prepares to go off to war. His mother begs him not to go, protesting that he shall surely be killed. He leaves his hairbrush, saying that if he dies it will bleed. Arriving in Pohjola some time later, he defeats and scatters all the Pohjola wizards in a singing contest with them. He ignores only Wet-Hat, an ugly cow herder, believing him to be beneath contempt. Angered, Wet-Hat runs to the river where he lies in wait to get his revenge on Lemminkäinen.

Runo 13. The Elk Chase. Lemminkäinen asks Louhi for one of her daughters. She refuses, saying he must first catch the Elk of Hiisi (the Devil) in a ski chase. He goes to a ski maker but is secretly given skis made of bad wood. After an exciting chase through the snow filled forests, Lemminkäinen does momentarily catch the elk, but it bolts and he breaks his skis trying to catch it.

Runo 14. The Death of Lemminkäinen. With the help of hunters' charms and forest spirits, Lemminkäinen finally catches the elk. The mistress then demands other deeds of him, including shooting the swan in the river of Tuonela (the river of death). On his way along the river, Wet-Hat, lying in wait, shoots Lemminkäinen with a poison arrow. Forgetting the charm to cure the poison, Lemminkäinen staggers, dying, and is thrown into the river after being chopped to pieces by the son of Tuoni.

Runo 15. Lemminkäinen's Resurrection. Back at home, Lemminkäinen's mother and Kyllikki frightfully watch the brush begin to bleed. Rushing off to Pohjola to find her son, Lemminkäinen's mother is led astray by Louhi, but the sun tells her what happened. She asks Ilmarinen to make a rake for her, retrieves all of Lemminkäinen's body parts by raking through the river, and fits him together with the help of special charms. To restore him to life, she sends a bee to get an ointment from the Creator's storehouse. Lemminkäinen revives and they return home together.

Runo 16. Väinämöinen's Journey to Tuonela. Väinämöinen sends Sampsa Pellervoinen, the little man, to fetch wood for a boat he is building. Using a solid oak log that Sampsa found for him, he begins singing the boat into shape, but forgets one of the magic verses. He decides to journey to Tuonela, the land of the dead, to find it. Arriving at the bank of death's river, Väinämöinen pretends to have died in order to get in, but Tuoni's clever daughter will not ferry him across until he tells her the truth. He eventually tells her why he came and she boats him across. On the other side, the old man of Tuonela tries to trap Väinämöinen, but he narrowly escapes back to the land of the living and warns everyone never to attempt to go to Tuonela.

Runo 17. In the Belly of Vipunen. Väinämöinen decides to seek his missing magic verse from Antero Vipunen, a famous giant shaman who has been asleep for ages. Surviving dangerous trials along the way, Väinämöinen finds him and, prying open the giant's mouth, Väinämöinen falls in. Once in Vipunen's belly, Väinämöinen torments the giant shaman so much that he sings out all his magical charms for Väinämöinen to hear. Väinämöinen escapes with the verse he was looking for, returns home, and completes his boat.

Runo 18. The Rival Suitors. Väinämöinen sets sail for Pohjola to court the daughter of Northland. However, Ilmarinen finds out and knows she was promised to him, so he also sets out. Seeing them both arriving, Louhi, the mistress of Pohjola, advises her daughter to choose Väinämöinen. But she wants the forger of the Sampo, and tells Väinämöinen as much.

Runo 19. Ilmarinen's Labors and Betrothal. Ilmarinen arrives at the house of Pohjola and is given a number of tasks to perform in order to win Pohjola's beautiful daughter. With the help of the maiden, he is able to accomplish all of the tasks. He claims his bride and is told to protect her. Väinämöinen leaves, disheartened, and advises older men to never compete with a younger man for a beautiful maiden.

Runos 20-25. These six runos tell of the wedding preparations, the wedding feast, instructions for the bride and groom, and the wedding party's homecoming.

Runos 26-30. These five runos tell of Lemminkäinen's various adventures in Pohjola, his singing competition with a sorcerer, his escapes from danger, a visit to the island of women, and his arduous journey across the frozen tundra.

Runos 31-36. These six runos tell of the misfit boy, Kullervo, and his struggle to find his real family. Kullervo is believed to be an orphan, the sole surviver of a clan who were completely slaughtered. As he grows up he cannot find his place in life and experiences one misfortune after another. His life seems hexed. In anger he kills Ilmarinen's bride and flees. In his fugitive wanderings he finds his true family who had, in fact, escaped being killed, but then he unknowingly sleeps with his sister. Discovering this and becoming miserable to the core and completely hopeless, he finally commits suicide by falling on his own sword.

Runo 37. Ilmarinen's Gold and Silver Bride. Grieving for his wife, Ilmarinen forges for himself a gold and silver woman. But he cannot bring her to life, and, distraught, tries to pawn her off on Väinämöinen. But Väinämöinen tells him to melt her down to make useful tools, and the rune ends with Väinämöinen urging people not to worship images, nor seek happiness in gold and silver.

Runo 38. Ilmarinen's Second Courtship. Ilmarinen returns to Pohjola to court another Northland maiden, but Louhi expresses regret at having given him her first daughter. She reprimands him and vows to not repeat her mistake. Ilmarinen asks the girl to come with him, and when she refuses, he carries her off by force. Sleighing southward through the woods, she treats him to a tongue-lashing for being so foolish, and spends the night at an Inn laughing with another man while Ilmarinen sleeps. The next morning, disgusted with such behavior, Ilmarinen changes her into a seagull and continues on his way home. He meets Väinämöinen and tells him what he did to the girl, and that the people of Pohjola are prospering with the Sampo in their possession.

Runo 39. The Voyage to Pohjola. Väinämöinen urges Ilmarinen to come with him to Pohjola to retrieve the Sampo. They start out by land, but find a boat and take to the river. Väinämöinen calls into existence men and women to help them row, but they are incapable of helping until Ilmarinen himself begins to row. On the way along the shore they come upon Lemminkäinen, who jumps in with gusto, happy to be along for the adventure.

Runo 40. In the Rapids. The Kalevala heroes come to a rapids and get stuck on the back of a huge pike. Lemminkäinen and Ilmarinen fail to get them free, and finally Väinämöinen kills the pike and they make their way to an island. They cook the pike and eat it, leaving only a pile of bones. With them, Väinämöinen makes a kantele, a five-stringed harp. All of the others try to play it, but none can.

Runo 41. Väinämöinen's Playing. As Väinämöinen plays his new musical instrument, all of nature flocks to listen and rejoices. The animals, the birds, the fish, even the nature spirits weep for joy. Väinämöinen, overcome with emotion, cries, and his tears roll into the sea. A duck goes to fetch them and finds they have turned into pearls.

Runo 42. The Theft of the Sampo. The Kalevala heroes arrive in Pohjola. Väinämöinen first asks Louhi if she will share the Sampo, but she refuses. He then says they will have to take it by force. Louhi, angered at such a threat, calls her warriors to attack the interlopers. However, Väinämöinen acts quickly, plays his kantele and enchants all of Pohjola into a sleep-trance. Going to the copper mountain where the Sampo is kept, the three heroes work to free the Sampo. Väinämöinen opens the doors with a chant, Ilmarinen butters the hinges to keep them from squeaking, and Lemminkäinen is chosen to heave the Sampo up. But its roots go down to a depth of nine fathoms, and Lemminkäinen fails to lift the Sampo out by himself. He enlists the aid of Pohjola's strong ox, and plows the roots up. Heaving the Sampo free, they carry it to their boat and depart. The third day on the water, Lemminkäinen decides they need some cheer and, against Väinämöinen's wishes, begins to sing. His bellowing startles a crane who flies off, squawking, to awaken Louhi from her trance back in Pohjola. Realizing that the Sons of Kaleva have taken the Sampo, she conjures up a storm, some fog, and calls upon a sea monster to kill the men of Kalevala. Though the Kalevala heroes overcome these obstacles, the kantele is blown overboard and lost.

Runo 43. The Battle For the Sampo. Louhi gathers an army and sails in pursuit of the Sampo. Väinämöinen, seeing they cannot outrun her, conjures up a reef that wrecks Louhi's ship. Louhi transforms herself into a huge bird, takes her warriors onto her wings and tail, and alights on the mast of the heroes' ship. Väinämöinen smashes her claws with the rudder, and her warriors fall into the sea. Louhi is able to claw at the Sampo and it falls overboard, shattering into pieces. Väinämöinen sees a good omen in the pieces of the Sampo spreading over the ocean, some of them reaching land. As Louhi departs she threatens to lock up the sun and moon and send diseases to Kalevala. Väinämöinen goes ashore, gathers and sows the pieces of the Sampo, and prays to Jumala to protect the people of Kaleva.

Runo 44. The New Kantele. Feeling that it is time to make music again, Väinämöinen asks Ilmarinen to forge a rake to search for the pike-bone harp. Unable to find it, Väinämöinen makes a new kantele from birchwood, with tuning pegs of oak and strings made from the hair of a beautiful forest maiden. Again, all of nature responds to his playing with joy.

Runo 45. The Plague. Hearing the rejoicing, Louhi bitterly determines to send a plague to the people of Kaleva. The origins of illness are invoked and cast over the land. In response, Väinämöinen warms up the healing sauna and with powerful incantations he sends the aches and pains away to Pain Mountain, thus curing his people.

Runo 46. The Bear Ceremony. Hearing that Kaleva's people have escaped her plague, Louhi sends a bear to wreak havoc on their cattle. Väinämöinen kills the bear and they hold the customary ceremony and feast. The bear is treated with respect, as a welcome guest, and the feast is in his honor. Väinämöinen sings of the birth of the bear, friend and brother to man, born not on earth but upon the shoulders of Otava, the Big Dipper. Väinämöinen plays and sings, delighting the gathering, and concludes with an eloquent prayer for the welfare of the land of Kaleva.

Runo 47. Louhi Steals the Sun and Moon. The sun and moon come and sit in the limbs of a tree to listen to Väinämöinen's enchanting music. Louhi quickly steals them, hiding the sun in a steel mountain and the moon in a rock cave. Next, she steals fire from the people of Kaleva. Ukko, the highest god, wonders why it is dark, and strikes up a new spark of fire from which he plans to make a new sun and moon. But the maid who was appointed to nurse the spark drops it, and it falls to earth. Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen set out to find it. Ilmatar, Väinämöinen's mother, tells them that the fire, after causing great damage, fell into Lake Alue, causing the lake to boil over its banks. The firespark is swallowed by a whitefish, which agonizes until it is swallowed by a sea trout, which in turn is swallowed by a pike. Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen weave a fiber net to catch the pike, but are unsuccessful.

Runo 48. The Capture of Fire. Väinämöinen has a huge net woven of fine linen, with which they succeed in catching the pike. As the Son of Day cleans the fish, the precious firespark pops out, badly singes Väinämöinen's beard, scorches Ilmarinen's face and hands, and burns down half the forests in the country. Väinämöinen finally captures the fire and returns it to its proper place in the hearths of Kalevala. Ilmarinen heals his hands with the help of a frost charm.

Runo 49. The Release of the Sun and Moon. Ilmarinen forges a new sun and moon, but they give no light. Väinämöinen casts lots (a divination technique), and learns where the sun and moon are hidden. He goes to Pohjola, defeats the guards, but cannot open the locks and bars which imprison the sun and moon. He returns home and has Ilmarinen forge special tools to open the locks. While Ilmarinen is working at his forge, Louhi visits in the shape of a hawk and asks what he is making. He replies that he is forging an iron collar to chain up the mistress of Pohjola. Feeling she is doomed, Louhi releases the sun and moon. Changing herself into a dove, she flies back to Ilmarinen and tells him that the sun and moon are once again in the sky, where they belong.

Runo 50. Marjatta and Farewell to Väinämöinen. Marjatta the virgin lived a chaste and pure youth in the house of her father. One day while herding sheep she swallows a lingonberry and magically becomes pregnant. When the time comes to give birth, she is shunned by her family and goes off to a stable where she gives birth to a son. She keeps him away from other people, but must bring him to the old man Virokannas so that he can be christened. Väinämöinen is called upon to question her, determine who the father is, and decide whether the boy should live or die. Väinämöinen decides that since he was conceived from a berry of the earth, he should be planted in the earth, that is, left to die in the forest. But then the one-month-old boy begins to speak, and accuses Väinämöinen of false judgment. Angry and ashamed, but recognizing that his successor has come, Väinämöinen sings himself a boat and sails away. As he departs, he says that a time will come when his people will need him again, and he leaves behind his kantele and his songs for his people.