Mistress of the North, Louhi attacking Väinämöinen in the form of a giant eagle with her troops on her back. (The Defense of the Sampo, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, 1896) Image by Wikipedia

Kalevala – National Epic of Finland

MASTERED by desire impulsive,
By a mighty inward urging,
I am ready now for singing,
Ready to begin the chanting
Of our nation’s ancient folk-song
Handed down from by-gone ages.
In my mouth the words are melting,
From my lips the tones are gliding,
From my tongue they wish to hasten;
When my willing teeth are parted,
When my ready mouth is opened,
Songs of ancient wit and wisdom
Hasten from me not unwilling.

Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884) was a doctor, botanist, and linguist. He was also an author, poet, and journalist. Lönnrot scouted the land of Finland, collecting folk songs and poetry. He collected, reorganized and compiled Kalevala and the first version, Old Kalevala, was published in 1835. He continued his work with the national epic, and the final version, the version we know today of Kalevala was finished in 1849.

Kalevala is a symbolism of Finland and I would dare to say that every Finn knows it, but the book itself might feel distant. In the poetic form, Kalevala might be difficult to read and understand. Good thing is, that there are several different versions written of this book in different languages and directed to different age groups. My bookcase holds the original Kalevala, given to me by my mom, as well as the much easier to read Canine Kalevala by Mauri Kunnas.

This list below compiles few, definitely not all, different versions of Kalevala. You can add your favorite one to the discussion area at the end of the article.

Kalevala – in different forms.

You can purchase the actual Kalevala in English from Amazon or from Target.

The Canine Kalevala by Mauri Kunnas is a great gift for the youngsters of the family. It was first published in Finland in 1992 and it is still holding its popularity among the readers.

Kirsti Mäkinen has written An Illustrated Kalevala: Myths and Legends from Finland (Otava 2002) and you can find this one in English from Amazon.

If books are not your thing, what about comics?

How about The Quest for Kalevala by Don Rosa. Uncle Scrooge comic book can be found in Amazon. or goodreads.com.

Marko Raassina (Arktinen Banaani, 2015) has written and drawn an ironically funny comic book version of Kalevala, however, I could only find a Finnish version of it on Amazon

And finally, we have a Risto Polttonen, who translated Kalevala from Finnish to Finnish. Yes – he translated it to more understandable modern Finnish so everyone can enjoy and understand the book.

Here is our modest list of Kalevala book tips and please, share your favorites, and where those can be found in the discussion area below. Thank you. Enjoyable reading moments with our national epic.