Monday, November 9, 2009

The Kalevala

Sophia's teacher in Finland has included me on the parent email list so I learned that Sophia's class recently visited the art museum in Turku to see an exhibition of the Kalevala paintings. Luckily Sophia will not be behind her class. She knows all about the Kalevala. We bought the book, The Canine Kalevala for her birthday when we were in Finland in 2007. The Kalevala is the national epic poem of Finland and is credited with helping mobilize the Finns to struggle for independence from Russia. Because of the Kalevala's central role in Finnish independence, it has been the subject of many painters. If you want an idea of what the Kalevala sounds like when read aloud, dip into some Longfellow:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Apparently Longfellow borrowed the cadence of the Kalevala for his Hiawatha epic.

Longfellow, like another American I know, studied Finnish! Who knew?

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