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"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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"Kullervo's Curse" by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

The Kalevala is a book and epic poem which Elias Lönnrot compiled from from Finnish and Karelian folklore in the 19th century. It is held to be the national epic of Finland and is traditionally thought of as one of the most significant works of Finnish literature.

"Kalevala" is the name of the homeland of the heroes in the book Kalevala.


Tolkien and the Kalevala

The Finnish mythology, as presented in the Kalavela, had a profound on the young J.R.R. Tolkien, and became an inspiriation for the creation of his legendarium. In early letter to Edith Bratt, Tolkien mentions that he is doing a reworking of one of the stories from the Kalevala (the manuscript "The Story of Kullervo").Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag Kalervo comes into conflict with the kin of Untamo, and soon a gang of men attacks Kalervo killing his family and men, and only one maid is spared her life to serve as a slave for Kalervo. But soon the maid gives birth to Kullervo. Later Kullervo is sold to Ilmarinen, from who he soon escapes. Kullervo finds out that her parents are alive as well, and hears from them that his sister has disappeared. Kalervo has to go to pay the families taxes, and on his way back Kullervo meets a fair maiden and seduces her. Afterwards she realizes that Kullervo is her brother, and out of shame she jumps into rapids and drowns. Desperate and self destructive Kullervo returns home and attacks Untamo and slays him. After the killing he talks to his sword, and says that it has bled a lot of innocent blood, and tells it that now the sword can bleed some guilty blood as well. The sword replies:

Thus his trusty sword makes answer,
Well divining his intentions:
Why should I not drink thy life-blood,
Blood of guilty Kullerwoinen,
Since I feast upon the worthy,
Drink the life-blood of the righteous?"

After the sword replies, Kullervo thrusts himself to the blade and dies.

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