Stories from the Finnish Epic: The Kalevala
as told at the Seattle Storytellers Guild Epic Event
at the Nordic Heritage Museum on March 25th, 2017.

Chapter 1 - The Singing Contest as told by Katherine Gee Perrone.
(Click to listen: 15 Minutes)


(Runo III)

The Lapland youth Joukahainen believes he can sing better songs than Väinämöinen. He informs his family he will defeat Väinämöinen in a battle of knowledge and song. His mother and father forbid him from such an unwise endeavor, but Joukahainen is young and arrogant and he does not listen. He sets out to do battle, and rides for three days solid. During the third day he and Väinämöinen collide, smashing both their sledges and causing a great mess.

A contest of knowledge ensues. Väinämöinen is not impressed with Joukahainen's knowledge and warns him to yield, but the youth does not and he proceeds to lie about his achievements, annoying Väinämöinen. Young Joukahainen then challenges Väinämöinen to battle with blades; he informs him that he is not afraid of his childish threats and Joukahainen then begins to throw insults at Väinämöinen. This greatly angers the old wizard and he begins to sing; he sings Joukahainen's possessions into nature and the youth himself into the earth all the way to his shoulders.

Joukahainen panics. He offers all of his material possessions to Väinämöinen, but the old man is not interested. Then Joukahainen offers his sister Aino as his wife. Väinämöinen grows joyful and reverses his song-spell, releasing the young Joukahainen from the earth. Joukahainen returns to his home and weeps to his mother as he tells her the tale and his offer to Väinämöinen. His mother tells him not to sob. Aino overhears and weeps uncontrollably. Her mother tries to comfort her but to no avail, and Aino weeps for a long time.

© 2017 - Barry McWilliams and The Seattle Storytellers Guild