The Kalevalaby John Martin Crawford
THE following translation was undertaken from a desire to lay before the English-speaking people the full treasury of epical beauty, folklore, and mythology comprised in The Kalevala (the Land of Heroes), the national epic of the Finns. The Kalevala describes Finnish nature very minutely and very beautifully. Grimm says that no poem is to be compared with it in this respect. A deeper and more esoteric meaning of the Kalevala, however, points to a contest between Light and Darkness.
The numerous myths of the poem are likewise full of significance and beauty, and the Kalevala should be read between the lines, in order that the full meaning of this great epic may be comprehended. The whole poem is replete with the most fascinating folk-lore about the mysteries of nature, the origin of things, the enigmas of human tears, and, true to the character of a national epic, it represents not only the poetry, but the entire wisdom and accumulated experience of a nation.
One of the most notable characteristics of the Finnish mythology is the interdependence among the gods. The Finnish deities, like the ancient gods of Italy and Greece, are generally represented in pairs. They have their individual abodes and are surrounded by their respective families.
The Sun and the Moon each have a consort, and sons and daughters. Only two sons of Pæivæ appear in The Kalevala, one comes to aid of Wainamoinen in his efforts to destroy the mystic Fire-fish, by throwing from the heavens to the girdle of the hero, a "magic knife, silver-edged, and golden-handled;" the other son, Panu, the Fire-child, brings back to Kalevala the fire that bad been stolen by Louhi, the wicked hostess of Pohyola.
J M Crawford. October 1887
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