from Wonder Tales from Baltic Wizards from the German and English by Francis Jenkins Olcott
CLING! CLING! CLING! CLANG! CLING! Listen to the Red-Haired Wizard from Suomi the beautiful of the thousand lakes and thousand isles!
Listen to his tale of Vainamoinen, Ancient Wizard:
It was in those first Golden Wonder Days that the rash boastful Youkahainen promised his lovely, young sister Aino to be the bride of the Ancient Vainamoinen.
But Aino, weeping bitter tears, clad herself in the finest of blue robes, adorned her head with gold and silver, girded herself with a golden girdle, and tied bands of blue and scarlet about her forehead.
Then she wandered hither and yon; for three days she wandered, singing sadly, singing madly, till on the third day she reached the purple border of a blue lake. There she hung her silken robes on an alder, and her scarlet and blue ribbands on an aspen. Down she sat on a large, many-colored rock in the water, and wailed and lamented.
Then suddenly the rock sank to the bottom of the lake, and the lovely Maiden Aino became a Water-Maiden in the grottoes of the Lake King. Sometimes in the form of a water-salmon she swam to and fro in the waves.
Now it happened that Vainamoinen heard of the wonder-salmon, and set out to catch it. Day after day, in his copper boat, he glided over the waves, but he fished in vain with his copper rod and golden line. Though he caught the salmon once, it slipped through his fingers into the water.
Then Aino in her fish-shape raised her head above the waves, and cried mockingly:
“O Vainamoinen, pitiful old thing! You have not the wit to hold me! I am the darling of the Water King, the youngest Daughter of the Surge!”
Then turning away, she dived deep, deep into the lake, and was never seen again.
The ancient Vainamoinen, with bowed head and sorrowful sighs, guided his copper boat to land.
The days passed, and he was lonely and grief-stricken. Then thought he:
“I will go to dismal, distant Lapland, and there seek the Rainbow Maiden for my bride. She, the most beautiful of all Maidens, dwells upon a Magic Rainbow.”
So to the land of cruel winter, the land of little sunshine, Vainamoinen, mounted on his Magic Dappled Steed, plunged onward, onward towards the cold Northern land. Still onward the Magic Dappled Steed galloped, till it reached the blue sea water. Then over the water it sped.
Now it happened that the boastful Youkahainen, Lapland’s most wicked Wizard, saw Vainamoinen skimming over the blue waves. He raised his Magic Crossbow, drew its cruel bow-string, and loosed a feathered arrow. Fast sped the arrow, stuck the Magic Dappled Steed, and passed through Vainamoinen’s shoulder. Headlong into the sea, plunged Vainamoinen.
Then the boastful evil Youkahainen thought that Vainamoinen was dead, so he hurried home boasting more loudly.
But the rolling billows upheld the ancient Wizard. He swam through the deep sea, and floated on the tide like a branch of aspen. He swam six days in summer, and six nights in golden moonlight. Then there rose a mighty Wind Storm, and an eagle came soaring around his head. On its back, the eagle carried him to the coast of dismal Lapland, set him down, and flew away.
Then Vainamoinen, old and lonely, sat down beside the border of the blue sea, and fell to bitter weeping. Three long days he wept and lamented.
Now it chanced that the Rainbow Maiden, rosy and beautiful, went out early one morning to gather six white fleeces from six gentle lambkins, to make her a robe of the softest raiment. She heard a wailing from the water, a weeping from the seashore, a hero’s voice lamenting. Straight she ran to her mother, old Louhi the Lapland Witch.
Old Louhi, toothless creature, hurried down to the water-side. There she found Vainamoinen weeping in a grove of alders and shivering aspens. His locks were flowing wildly and his lips were trembling. She led him to her dwelling, fed him, let him warm himself at her fire, and then said:
“Weep no more, O Vainamoinen, Wizard Great of the Land of Heroes! Grieve no more, friend of the waters! Live here with us, and be always welcome. You shall eat salmon from our platters, feed on the sweetest of bacon and the most delicate of small fish.”
But Vainamoinen answered shaking his head strangely:
“O Lapland Witch, I am grateful! Though toothsome and delicate is your food, yet food in my own home is more to me. It is better to dwell in my own beloved home in the Land of Heroes, there to drink cool, clear water in birchen cups, than in strange lands to quaff the richest liquor from golden bowls.”
“What will you give me, O ancient Vainamoinen,” said the Witch, “if I carry you back to your own fireside in the Land of Heroes?”
“If you will take me back to hear once more the silver-voiced cuckoos call, I will give you a helmet full of gold, or fill your cups with sparkling silver.”
“Surely you are a wise and true Wizard, O Vainamoinen!” answered the old Witch craftily. “But I do not want your gold or silver. Can you forge for me the Sampo, with its many colored lid and its many many pictures, make it from the tips of the white swan’s wing-plumes, from the magic milk of virtue, from a single grain of barley, from the finest wool of lambkins? If you can, I will give you my lovely daughter, the Rainbow Maiden, to go with you to the Land of Heroes, to hear the silver-voiced cuckoos sing.”
“I cannot forge the Sampo with its lid of many colors,” answered Vainamoinen. “But if you will take me back to my own home, I will send you the Wizard Blacksmith, Ilmarinen. He is a man of mighty muscle. None but he can wield the Heavy Hammer. He will forge the Sampo and beat its lid of many colors. He alone can win the lovely Rainbow Maiden!”
“I will give my darling daughter to him who can forge the Sampo,” said the old Witch. “Go, send Ilmarinen here.”
Then she harnessed a Magic Horse to her snow-white sledge of birch-wood, placed the ancient Vainamoinen on the sledge, and sent him homeward to the Land of Heroes.
And as he raced onward, onward, onward, rushing along the roadway, he heard the whizzing of a loom and the mocking of a voice. Lifting his eyes he saw a rainbow. On it was seated the Rainbow Maiden, lovelier than a dream, and dressed in a gold and silver air-gown. Merrily flew a golden shuttle to and fro in the Maiden’s hands. She was weaving a web of finest, richest texture, with a weaving comb of silver. And she mocked the Great Wizard, as she rustled the silver webs of wondrous beauty, mocked him as he rode along, mocked him with many words of song and laughter.
“LISTEN now, O ye Lapp People!” cried the Red-Haired Wizard of Finland finishing this story. “Later I shall tell you another tale:
Tell you all of Ilmarinen,
Mighty Blacksmith, mighty forger,
Who could wield the Magic Hammer,
Weld the wondrous Magic Sampo,
Woo the mocking Rainbow Maiden.
Ilmarinen, strongest Wizard!