THE KALEVALA (14)

By: James Parker
June 23, 2017

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

*

THE BRIDE’S LAMENT
[being a bastardization of The Kalevala Rune 23, lines 485-580]

On my wedding day,
the world around me greened and
      swooned.
It was late June.
There was juice in my joints.
The fat thrush dipped his head in music,
the clouds sundered in slow ecstasy,
and jealousy filed the bridesmaids’ teeth to
      shining points.

A more beautiful bride you ne’er did see.
In all the counties of Kaleva there was no
      fairer lady.
I bounced around bridally.
My joy surged tidally.
As for my groom, no hardship was it
for him to find the best clothes in his closet
and wear them for me,
his fair lady.

“Sex!” sang the thrush.
Our wedding night was a sighing, slow-
      pistoned rush.
A husband’s duty re: his wife is to please
      her
and I gushed blushes like a geyser.
Then — peace was ours.
Dawn came. Morning softened the spiky
      stars
and low notes of astonishment rose from
      the pond.
The moon had taken its empty face away
      and beyond.

But listen — once we were joined and
      nuptialized,
just like that, I ceased to be prized.
My value dropped.
My bubble popped.
Sorrow throbbed in my throat
and I was ugly as a goat.
Our cottage abruptly bulged with things
      unsaid,
sticky dishes, stifled wishes.
Entropy spread from the unmade bed.
The churned sheets were a vortex
and there could be no more sex
because of the pain in my cortex.

Now to and fro, from room to room,
I push my anxious broom.

***

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 23 (485–580): “The Bride’s Lament” | RUNE 30 (1–276): “Icebound” | 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” | RUNE 34 (1–82): “The Pipes of Kullervo”.

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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Poetry, Read-outs