The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #150358 Message #3504519
Posted By: MorwenEdhelwen1
16-Apr-13 - 07:48 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Karelian folk song: orphan boy's revenge
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Karelian folk song: orphan boy's revenge
@leeneia: I never really noticed that element of the plot before. Interestingly, in the Kalevala, Untamo, the orphan's uncle, says that he'll sell Kullervo, the boy, to Karelia, "to the blacksmith, Ilmarinen/there to swing the heavy hammer."
But, as we've seen, that's not what happened.
A similar tale turns up in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. In this story, the boy is called Kaujjarjak, Quadjaq, and other names, and he usually pounds whale blubber, a similarly degrading job. But he still takes his revenge through bears and a knife still plays an important role in the plot (giving him a knife was one of the kindest things anyone did for the kid).
Knowing that aspect of the story makes this passage,
"Of the youth am I the poorest,
Hapless lad and full of trouble,
Evil luck to me befallen!
I alas! must idly wander
O'er the hills and through the valleys,
As a watch-dog for the cattle!"
-From John Martin Crawford's 1888 full translation of the Kalevala, which is also where the first quoted passage came from
which is Kullervo's lament about his bad situation, more poignant.