The Kalevala (11)

By: James Parker
November 18, 2016

The Kalevala is a sequence of folkloric songs, runes and charms from the Karelia region of Finland, collected in the field and concatenated into epic form by Dr. Elias Lonnrot (1803-1884). The versions presented here are not translations or transliterations — they are respectful bastardizations, working from the 1963 English version of the Kalevala produced by the versatile and witty Francis Peabody Magoun Jr.

kalevala_bastardized

*

JOUKAHAINEN’S MOTHER COUNSELS HIM AGAINST SHOOTING THE WIZARD VAINAMOINEN
[being a bastardization of The Kalevala, Rune 6, lines 115–130]

My son, my boy, my lad, my stripling,
let me be cogent as Rudyard Kipling.
I see you with your crossbow cocked,
and your intellect murderously locked.
I admire the gathered beauty of your
      grumpy brow.
I hear your trigger-finger asking Now? Now!

But call to mind, I beg you, the wizard in
      his wood,
in his clearing, puffing his rings of smoke.
The squirrel flashes his saucy silver.
The dog addresses himself
to the nested essence of the bush,
and lifts his leg.
And as the brume around the tree-bole
so does the wizard’s cat
wind itself around his knobbly old-man
      shin.
All beings in their place. Do you
      understand?

I see you poised in a smoky, molecular
      light,
a beating light, like draughts under
      black wings.
Hang and hold, destruction. Easy to wreck
      it all.
Easy to loose an arrow into the heart of
      things.
But let fly that bolt, let fly that shaft,
and the sweetness of creation will be
      approximately halved.
Let fly that bolt, and rhymes of flame
go racing up the sides of the sky,
joining and twining at the apex
to form the grand gate of chaos,
      confusion’s eye.

Do not shoot the wizard.
Do not shoot the wizard.

***

Series banner contributed by Rick Pinchera.

ALL INSTALLMENTS: RUNE 3 (1–278): “Wizard Battle” | RUNE 4 (1–56): “A Failed Seduction” | RUNE 4 (300–416): “Aino Ends It All” | RUNE 5 (45–139): “An Afternoon Upon the Water” | RUNE 5 (150–241): “The Blue Elk” | RUNE 6 (1–114): “Therapy Session” | RUNE 6 (115–130): “Joukahainen’s Mother Counsels Him Against Shooting the Wizard Vainamoinen” | RUNE 11 (1–138): “Introducing Kyllikki” | RUNE 31 (215–225): “The Babysitter” | RUNE 31 (223–300): “The Screaming Axe” | RUNE 33 (1–136): “The Cowherd” | RUNE 33 (73): “Song of the Blade: Kullervo” | RUNE 33 (118–284): “The Cows Come Home”.

MORE PARKER at HILOBROW: COCKY THE FOX: a brilliant swearing-animal epic, serialized here at HiLobrow from 2010–2011, inc. a newsletter by Patrick Cates | THE KALEVALA — a Finnish epic, bastardized | THE BOURNE VARIATIONS: A series of poems about the Jason Bourne movies | ANGUSONICS: James and Tommy Valicenti parse Angus Young’s solos | MOULDIANA: James and Tommy Valicenti parse Bob Mould’s solos | BOLANOMICS: James traces Marc Bolan’s musical and philosophical development | WINDS OF MAGIC: A curated series reprinting James’s early- and mid-2000s writing for the Boston Globe and Boston Phoenix | CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM: J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT | EVEN MORE PARKER, including doggerel; HiLo Hero items on Sid Vicious, Dez Cadena, Mervyn Peake, others; and more.

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