12 February 2021

#12 - Ilmatar to Väinämöinen

The Kalevala is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology, telling of the Creation of the Earth. The Earth is created from the shards of the egg of a goldeneye and the first man Väinämöinen is born to the goddess Ilmatar. Väinämöinen brings trees and life to the barren world.

Suspended in the sea – I’ve been here years,
or months or weeks or decades, hard to say –
awaiting your arrival, son. This day –
foreseen but not foretold – at last appears,
with burning thighs and shattered hemispheres.
Breathe now, and carve on through the spray;
inspire the land with laughter, song, and play –
too soon will springtide joys be raked by tears.
Remember me as one who gave you air,
and blessings uterine and manifold;
remember as you scan the primal swell,
recall a mother’s words that float like prayer:
youth’s curse forgets the wisdom of the old;
the curse of age is knowing this too well.


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