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THE poem commences with an invocation to Vanemuine.1 This is followed by a long lyrical exordium.


 In ancient days, the race of Taara dwelt here and there in the land, and took to themselves wives of the daughters of men.2 In the far North, p. 8 near the sacred oak forest of Taara, such a house-hold existed, and from thence three sons went forth into the world to seek their fortunes. One son travelled to Russia, where he became a great merchant; another journeyed to Lapland, and became a warrior; while the third, the famous Kalev,1 the father of heroes, was borne to Esthonia on the back of an eagle.2 The eagle flew with him to the south across the Gulf of Finland, and then eastward across Lääne3 and Viru,4 until, by the wise ordering of Jumala,5 the eagle finally descended p. 9 with him on the rocky shores of Viru, where he founded a kingdom.

 In the province of Lääne a young widow lived quietly by herself. One Sunday she followed the footprints of her cattle, and what did she find on her way? On the path she found a hen; she found a grouse’s egg in the footprints of the cattle, and she found a young crow near the village. She carried them all home with her to comfort her loneliness, and she made a nest for the hen and the egg in a basket lined with wool, but she threw the young crow into a corner behind the boxes.

 The hen soon began to grow, and her head reached the lid of the basket while she sat on the egg. She grew taller for three months, and for several days of the fourth month.

 The widow went into the storehouse to look at her foster-children, and what did she behold on raising the lid of the basket? The hen had grown into the fair maiden Salme;1 the egg had given p. 10 birth to a second maiden, Linda, while the poor crow had become an orphan girl, a maid-of-all-work, to carry wood to the stove and to bend under the weight of water-pails from the well. Salme was besieged by suitors. Five and six brought her offerings of corn-brandy, seven sent her offers of marriage, and eight sent trustworthy messengers to bring them news of her. The fame of her beauty spread far and wide, and at length not merely mortal lovers, but even the Moon, the Sun,1 and the eldest son of the Pole Star sought her hand in marriage.

 The Moon drove up in a grand chariot drawn by fifty horses, and attended by a train of sixty grooms. He was a pale slender youth, and found no favour in the eyes of Salme, who cried out from the storehouse:

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“Him I will not have for husband,
And the night-illumer love not.
Far too varied are his duties,
And his work is much too heavy.
Sometimes he must shine in heaven
Ere the day, or late in evening;
Sometimes when the sun is rising;
Sometimes he must toil at morning,
Ere the day has fully broken;
Sometimes watches in the daytime,
Lingering in the sky till mid-day.”

 When the Moon heard her answer, he grew yet paler, and returned home sorrowful.

 And now the Sun himself appeared, a young man with fiery eyes; and he drove up with similar state to the Moon. But Salme declared that she liked him even less than the Moon, for he was much too fickle. Sometimes, during the finest summer weather, he would send rain in the midst of the hay-harvest; or if the time had come for sowing oats, he would parch the land with drought; or if the time for sowing is past, he dries up the barley in the ground, beats down the flax, and presses down the peas in the furrows; he won’t let the buckwheat grow, or the lentils in their pods; and when the rye is white for harvest, he either glows fiercely and drives away the clouds, or sends a pouring rain.

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 The Sun was deeply offended; his eyes glowed with anger, and he departed in a rage.

 At last the Youth of the Stars made his appearance, driving with a similar cortège to those who had preceded him.

 As soon as Salme heard of his arrival, she cried out that his horse was to be led into the stable and tended with the utmost care. The horse must have the best provender, and must be given fine linen to rest on and be covered with silken cloths; his head was to rest on satin, and his hoofs on soft hay. After this she declared to his master:

“Him I will accept as lover,
Give the Star my hand in marriage,
And will prove his faithful consort.
Gently shine his eyes of starlight,
And his temper alters nothing.
Never can he thwart the sowing,
Never will destroy the harvest.”

 Having thus accepted her suitor and provided for the comfort of his horse, Salme ordered the bridegroom to be ushered into the hall, where the broad table was washed clean and covered with a new tablecloth. The Star was to be seated with his back to the wall and his feet comfortably propped up on the bench, while he was to p. 13 be feasted on the best meat and fish, and offered wedding-cake and honey, besides beer and sweet mead. The widow invited the Star to take his place at the table, and pressed him to eat and drink, but he was greatly excited, and his weapons, ornaments, and heavy spurs jingled and clanked as he stamped on the floor, and declared that he would eat nothing till Salme herself appeared before him. But Salme asked him to wait awhile while she adorned herself, and asked her sister Linda to fetch her woollen dress and her silken shift with gold-embroidered sleeves, her stockings with the pretty garters, and the brightly coloured and gold-worked kerchiefs of silk and linen.

 Meantime, the widow again invited the Star to eat and drink, or, if he were tired, to sleep; but he declared, as before, that he would neither eat nor drink till he had seen Salme, and that the stars never closed their eyes in sleep.

 At last Salme herself appeared in the hall, but the Meadow-Queen1 and the wood nymphs had so adorned her that her foster-mother did not know p. 14 her again, and asked in astonishment, “Is it the moon,1 or the sun, or one of the young daughters of the sunset?”

 Guests gathered to the wedding from far and near, and even the oaks and alders came, roots, branches, and all.

After this they danced the cross-dance,2
Waltzed the waltzes of Esthonia,
And they danced the Arju3 dances,
And the dances of the West Land;
And they danced upon the gravel,
And they trampled all the greensward.
Starry youth and maiden Salme,
Thus their nuptials held in rapture.

 In the midst of these joyous festivities, the Moon and then the Sun returned in greater state than before to seek the hand of Linda, who was resting on a couch in the bathroom; but she also refused p. 15 them both, almost in the same terms as her sister had done; and they retired sorrowfully.

 A third suitor, the Lord of the Waters, now appeared; but Linda replied that the roaring of the waves was terrible, and the depth of the sea was awful; that the brooks only gave a scanty supply of water, and the river-floods were devastating. He was followed by the Wind, who rode the Horse of the Tempest, and, like all the other suitors, was attended by a cavalcade of fifty horses and sixty grooms; and he too asked the hand of Linda. But she replied that a delicate girl could never take pleasure in the howling of the wind and the raging of the tempest. The Wind whistled out of the house, but his trouble did not weigh on his heart very long.

 Another suitor for the hand of Linda now appeared in the person of the Prince of Kungla.1 All the guests, and Linda’s own sisters, approved of this suitor. But Linda declared that she could not p. 16 think of accepting him; for the king, his father, had wicked daughters, who would treat a stranger unkindly.

 A sixth suitor now appeared in the person of the young and handsome giant Kalev. All the wedding-guests grumbled, and even the widow was opposed to the match; but he pleased Linda, and she accepted him at once. The widow then invited him to enter and partake of the good cheer; but he trembled with eagerness, so that his sword in its sheath, and his chains and spurs, and even the money in his purse, jingled as he answered that he would neither eat nor drink till Linda appeared before him. Linda begged for a little delay to adorn herself, but Kalev still refused to eat or drink, and then she called her slave-sister to help her, while the widow continued her ineffectual invitations to Kalev to feast and enjoy himself.

 At last Linda appeared in the hall, where she excited as much admiration as her sister, and her wedding was celebrated with still greater festivities than Salme’s, the guests dancing the local dances of every province of Esthonia.

 But now the Youth of the Stars could delay no longer, and Salme took an affecting farewell p. 17 of her foster-mother and all her kith and kin, declaring that she would now be hidden behind the clouds, or wandering through the heavens transformed into a star. Then she mounted her sledge, and again bade her foster-mother a last and eternal farewell. Linda and her slave-sister called after her to ask whither she was going; but there came no answer save the sighing of the wind, and tears of joy and regret in the rain and the dew; nor did they ever receive tidings of Salme more.

 After Salme’s departure, the wedding-festival of Linda was kept up for some time, and when Kalev finally drove off with her in her sledge, she bade farewell to her foster-mother; but Kalev reminded her that she had forgotten the moon before the house, who was her father; the sun before the storehouse, who was her old uncle; and the birch-tree before the window, who was her brother, besides her cousins in the wood. They gazed after her sorrowfully; but she was happy with Kalev, and heeded them not. Kalev and Linda drove on in their sledge day and night across the snow-fields and through the pine-forests till they reached their home.



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1 In the Finnish Kalevala, Väinämöinen is represented as a culture-hero, and as the father of his people; in Esthonia Vanemuine is usually a demi-god. He is always the inventor and patron of music and the harp. He plays no part in the Kalevipoeg, where his name is only mentioned once or twice.

2 If this is a Scriptural allusion, it is almost the only one in the book. The Kalevipoeg is essentially a pre-Christian poem, and nowhere exhibits the curious mixture of pre-Christian and Christian p. 2 ideas that we meet with in many parts of the Kalevala, and notably in Runo 50.

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1 In the Kalevala ( = the country of Kaleva), the hero himself does not appear in person, though we constantly read of his sons and daughters. Some critics, however, identify him with the dead giant, Antero Vipunen, in Runo 17 of the Kalevala.

2 The eagle of the North plays a conspicuous part in Finnish and Esthonian literature. It is this bird for whose resting-place Väinämöinen spares the birch-tree, and which afterwards rescues him from the waves and carries him to Pohjola. In several cosmogonic ballads, too, it is the eggs of this bird and not of the blue duck which contribute to the formation of the world: for the Mundane Egg plays a part here as well as in other cosmogonies. The passage in the Kalevipoeg, to which this note refers, corresponds almost exactly to one in the Kalevala (xxx. 1-10), which ushers in the adventures of Kullervo.

3 A province in Western Esthonia, called Wiek by the Germans.

4 Esthonia proper; specially applied to the north-eastern province.

5 God: this word is applied to the Christian God in Esthonia, Finland, and Lapland, as well as to the local divinities.

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1 There are many tales and ballads about the miraculous birth and wooing of Salme and Linda. (Compare Neus, Ehstnische Volkslieder, p. 9; Latham’s Nationalities of Europe, i. p. 142.) In the story of the “Milky Way,” which commences Part II. of this volume, Linda is represented as the daughter of Uho, and the p. 10 queen of the birds. We also read of a blue bird, Siuru, the daughter of Taara, in the ballads. The name Linda or Lindu is evidently derived from the word Lind, a bird.

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1 The Sun and Moon are both male deities in Finnish and Esthonian. In the Kalevala (Runo 11) the sun, moon, and a star seek the hand of Kylliki, the fair maid of Saari, for their sons, but she rejects them all as unceremoniously as Salme. In the Kanteletar (iii. 60), a maiden called Suometar ( = Finland’s daughter) plays a similar part. Suometar is born from a duck’s egg, found by a young girl named Katrina.

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1 Muru eit, the meadow-queen (literally grass-mother), is regarded as one of the tutelary divinities of the house. Esthonian houses generally stand in a grass field, entered by a gate. Within the enclosure are the storehouses, cattle-pens, and other outbuildings.

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1 This is somewhat inconsistent with the rather undignified appearance of the Sun and Moon in person a little while before.

2 The cross-dance is still danced in out-of-the-way parts of the country; it is a kind of quadrille. Four couples station themselves in such a manner as to form a cross. The opposite pairs advance and retire several times, and then they dance round, when the second pairs dance in the same manner, and another dance round follows, till they have danced enough. The dance is accompanied with a song, in which the dancers, and sometimes the bystanders, join.

3 Arju or Harju (German, Harrieu) one of the provinces of Esthonia.

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1 Kungla is described as a country of untold wealth and the land of adventures—a kind of fairyland. It appears, however, to have been a real country, separated from Esthonia by sea, of which fabulous tales were told. Some writers identify it with the Government of Perm; but this is improbable, as it is generally described as an island. Others think that the island of Gottland is meant.