Väinämöinen’s Journey to Tuonela

The sledge broke from under the poet, the runner from under the singer in turning at Ahti’s fence, at Veitikka’s gate. There was old Väinämöinen; he left for an auger from Tuonela. He called and called, whistled shrilly, “Bring a boat, girl of Tuoni, a raft, child of Manala, to take me across the narrows, to let me cross the river.” The little girl of Tuoni chid him, Death’s child chattered, “Perhaps a boat will be brought from here when the word is said ‘What brought you to Manala?’” “Fire brought me to Manala.” The little girl of Tuoni chid, Death’s child chattered, “Now I know the liar, I understand the quibbler. If fire had brought you to Manala, your clothes would be a-fire.” He called and called, whistled shrilly, “Bring a boat, girl of Tuoni, a raft, child of Manala, to take me across the narrows, to let me cross the river.” The little girl of Tuoni chid him, Death’s child chattered, “Perhaps a boat will be brought from here when the word is said ‘What brought you to Manala?’” “Water brought me to Manala.” The little girl of Tuoni chid, Death’s child chattered, “Now I know the liar, I understand the quibbler. If water had brought you to Manala, your clothes would be dripping water.” He called and called, whistled shrilly, “Bring a boat, girl of Tuoni, a raft, child of Manala, to take me across the narrows, to let me cross the river.” The little girl of Tuoni chid him, Death’s child chattered, “Perhaps a boat will be brought from here when the word is said ‘What brought you to Manala?’” “Iron brought me to Manala.” The little girl of Tuoni chid, Death’s child chattered, “Now I know the liar, I understand the quibbler. If iron had brought you to Manala, your clothes would be dripping blood.” He called and called, whistled shrilly, “Bring a boat, girl of Tuoni, a raft, child of Manala, to take me across the narrows, to let me cross the river. “Now I will tell the real truth, unlying, trustworthy. The sledge broke from under the poet, the runner from under the singer; I left to get an auger from Tuonela, a gimlet from Manala.” The girl of Tuoni brought a boat, accompanied him over the narrows. She fed the man, gave him to drink, put the traveler to bed there in Tuonela’s home. The man lay a-bed, the cover kept watch. Girl of Tuoni, iron-fingered, iron-fingered, iron-handed, spins an iron thread, casts copper wire, so that Väinämöinen may not pass, Umentolainen not get clear. Boy of Tuoni, iron-fingered, iron-fingered, iron-handed, weaves an iron net, casts a copper net, so that Väinämöinen may not pass, Umentolainen not get clear. Then the net is drawn across the River of Tuonela, downstream, across stream, even slantwise, so that Väinämöinen may not pass Umentolainen not get clear. Then old Väinämöinen dares begin to be something else. He crawls as an iron worm, goes as viper, as a snake through the River of Tuonela, through the nets of Tuoni. Let you not, you people to come, you coming people, go to Tuonela for an auger, to fetch a gimlet from Manala. Many are those gone thither, not many those returned.

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