compiled by Elias Lönnrot
translated by John Martin Crawford
The Kalevala is the signature work of traditional Finnish culture. In
story after story, it explores the human and divine world as understood by
the traditional runic singers of the north. It sings of how the universe
came to be, how the natural world works, how divine and supernatural worlds
relate to the world of humankind, how human beings relate to each other, how
good and evil and life and death function in the world.
Many of the stories focus on Wainamoinen, "old and trusty," an ancient
singer, magician, and chieftain of the land of Kalevala. He plays a leading
part in the struggle of the land of Kalevala against the land of Pohyola,
the realm of warmth and light against the realm of cold and darkness. His
brother, the blacksmith Ilmarinen, and the reckless young magician
Lemminkainen, wage war with Louhi, the ancient woman, leader of the people
of Pohyola. This is a war in which songs and magic are as much weapons as
are swords and arrows, in which adventure can begin anywhere and victory is
as much a matter of wit and ingenuity as of strength and courage.
This recording is of the English translation of John Martin Crawford,
which follows the original, traditional meter--the meter which Longfellow
knew from the Kalevala and which he used in his famous Song of
In this translation, to help the listener follow the story, the names of
characters and places are pronounced as they would be in English, except for
the leading character, Wainamoinen.
Please enjoy these wonderful stories from a Nordic world of magic and
adventure, of darkness and light!