The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #150358   Message #3505656
Posted By: AKS
19-Apr-13 - 04:24 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Karelian folk song: orphan boy's revenge
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Karelian folk song: orphan boy's revenge
Kullervo is the tragig figure of Finnish folklore. Some variations name him "Kalervon poika" /son of Kalervo/, some "Kalevanpoika" /mythical giant/, strong, handsome man with golden hair.

Several, slightly different versions have been collected. The one found in Kalevala is based mainly on version(s) collected in Inkeri (Ingria, Ingermanland, area around St. Petersburg). Here is the plot in short:

-Kalervo and Untamo get to quarrel with one another.
-Untamo raids Kalervo's house and kills everyone except a servant gir (who btw is pregnant by Kalervo.), she becomes Untamo's slave.
-Kullervo is born, grows beatiful and strong, but unfit to any real work. Several means to get rid of (=kill) him are tried with no success.
-Kullervo is sold to Seppo Ilmarinen (seppä/o = 'blacksmith'), who sends him to herd the cattle. Ilmarinen's wife does not like Kullervo at all and bakes a stone into his bread one day.
-Kullervo's puukko (=knife) gets broken when cutting the bread. That drives him frantic, because that particular knife is the only thing left to remind him of his real father.
-Kullervo conjures bears and wolves to kill the evil wife and her cows – and runs away.
-Miraculously he finds his family alive, only his sister missing. He is sent to take the tax money to the collector, and on the way back meets a fair lass, whom he seduces – but later finds out her to be his sister. Sister drowns herself into the rapids.
-Ashamed and in despration Kullervo sets himself to war against Untamo's house. While on campaign he comes to know that, finally, his closest have died one after another. He succeeds to destroy Untamo's kin, returns home but finds no peace of mind.

-so finally:
Kullervo, Kalervon poika, tempasi terävän miekan / Kullervo, Kalervo's son, pulled (his) sharp sword
katselevi, kääntelevi, kyselevi, tietelevi / looks at, turning over, asks, inquires
Kysyi mieltä miekaltansa, tokko tuon tekisi mieli /asked his sword's opinion, whether it would mind
syöä syyllistä lihoa, viallista verta juoa / to eat guilty meat, to drink sinful blood

Miekka mietti miehen mielen, arvasi uron pakinan / the sword thought man's mind, guessed brave's speech
Vastasi sanalla tuolla: "Miks' en söisi mielelläni, / answered with a word thus: why wouldn't I willingly eat
söisi syyllistä lihoa, viallista verta joisi? /eat guilty meat, drink sinful blood
Syön lihoa syyttömänki, juon verta viattomanki." / I do eat meat of the not guilty, drink blood of the innocent

Here's the almost iconic painting of Kullervo's Curse by Akseli Gallén-Kallela.