Stories from the Finnish Epic: The Kalevala
Chapter 7 – The Two Suitors) as told by Barry McWilliams.
as told at the Seattle Storytellers Guild Epic Event
at the Nordic Heritage Museum on March 25th, 2017.
(Click to listen: 18.27 Minutes)
Barry McWilliams (eldrbarry) is the Seattle Guild’s Chair and newsletter editor.
He is a retired pastor, created our quilted backdrops and has been telling stories since 1979.
Find out more at www.eldrbarry.net
(Runos XVIII and XIX - skips over the Lemminkäinen cycle, which is moved to later in the tale)
On his way to Pohjola to woo the beauteous Northland maiden, Väinämöinen comes across Annikki—Ilmarinen's sister—who asks him where he is going, he tells her many lies but in the end tells her of his purpose, on this note she rushes off to her brother to tell him that a rival suitor is heading to the Northland maiden's side.
Ilmarinen hurries to prepare for his journey and his wooing. He adorns his sledge with sweet songbirds and prepares for departure with the finest horse in his possession in the harness. He prays to Ukko to clear his path and make for him an easy journey and he sets off on his journey.
Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen meet with each other along the journey, and shouting over the waters and snowfields agree to a friendly pact and agree to be happy for whomever wins the hand of the beautiful Pohjola maiden.
As the two suitors grow closer the dogs of Pohjola start barking and the master of Pohja goes to see what the fuss is about. He sees a red boat approaching the Lovers bay and a magnificently decorated sledge approaching along the bay of Sima. He rushes home and asks why they are coming, Louhi orders their servant to throws logs on the fire and since the logs flow with honey, she tells them that the approaching men are suitors and not warriors.
Louhi quickly runs to the yards to see who is coming, she realises that it is Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen and advises her daughter to choose the aged wizard for he is rich and magnificent. The daughter has other ideas however and when Väinämöinen is the first to arrive she tells him that she will not be his wife.
Ilmarinen enters the halls of Pohjola and demands to see his betrothed, but Louhi demands several tasks be completed before he can marry her daughter. The first task set is the plough a field of poisoned snakes, Ilmarinen goes to the maiden who advises him on how to complete the task so he sets out and crafts a plough of gold and silver and shoes of iron and completes the task.
The next task assigned to him is to capture the Bear and Wolf of Tuoni. Again he goes distressed to the maiden who advises him so he sets off to complete the task which he does with steel bits and muzzles of iron.
The third and final task given to him is to capture the giant pike without aid of net or rod, once more he goes to his betrothed and she advises him. He sets off and casts a mighty fiery eagle with iron talons and wings made of boat sides, the eagle tries numerous times to capture the pike and finally manages it, but it eats the body of the giant fish leaving only the head. Ilmarinen curses the bird and it flies off beyond heaven.
Ilmarinen with the pike head returns to Louhi who is annoyed that he didn't return the whole pike, but agrees to allow the marriage. Väinämöinen returns home and utters a warning to the older men, never to woo a maiden as rival to a younger man, as it can only lead to torment.
© 2017 - Barry McWilliams and Seattle Storytellers Guild