Posts Tagged ‘glory’

Leif Eriksson’s Quaint New England Inn

Sunday, October 4th, 2020


Last year I added a couple of posts to this floundering website about the everlasting heritage and influence of Norumbega in the state of Maine. The words “heritage” and “influence” are exaggerations, but there are a handful of fun landmarks and establishments in Vacationland that pay homage to the fabled Norse city that never was, such as Norumbega Parkway in Bangor, Norumbega Cidery in New Gloucester, and Norumbega Mountain in Acadia National Park. And now, more than a year since those exhilarating updates were posted (due to passivity and general slacking off), Norumbega Inn gets its own shot at the royal Scandinavian Aggression treatment!

In other words, check the photo of the sign above and the inn itself below.

The inn is located in Camden, Maine and was built in 1886 by a certain Joseph Stearns, who apparently invented the duplex telegraph and used his subsequent fortune to build his own castle, which became the inn and took its name from Leif Eriksson’s supposed municipal establishment further south in Massachusetts, of course. You can learn more about the inn’s history on its own website here, and more about Norumbega itself by clicking the image below.

How to Drink Ale and Glare About Fiercely

Sunday, July 19th, 2020

”At the worst, the game will soon be played, and others will stand where we have stood, and strive where we have striven, and fail as we have failed, and so on, till man has worked out his doom, and the Gods cease from their wrath, or Ragnarök come upon them, and they too are lost in the jaws of grey wolf Fenrir.”

Thus spoke Eric Brighteyes to his beloved Gudruda the Fair on the gloomy and downtrodden eve of his exile from Iceland, having been unjustly declared an outlaw. A very serious man, Eric’s manner of speak resembles that of Styrbiorn the Strong, which is unsurprising since Eric Brighteyes and Styrbiorn the Strong were contemporaries; both are products of Victorian England. Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard and Styrbiorn the Strong by E.R. Eddison are both early English novels of Norse adventure and relish in the language of pomp and splendor that was popular at the time of their writing.

Check out my little blurb about Styrbiorn the Strong here if you so desire: How to Dally with Whores and Lose Kingdoms

I found an old out-of-print copy published by Zebra Books in the 70s (replete with the requisite non-sensical fantasy cover art typical of the era) and naturally snatched it up. The introduction by Lin Carter in this edition does a nice job of providing some background history to both Eric Brighteyes and Styrbiorn the Strong. Eric Brighteyes has enjoyed more popularity in general, remained in print for longer, and, basically, was written by a better-known author (Haggard also wrote King Solomon’s Mines). Lin seems to prefer Eric Brighteyes over Styrbiorn the Strong, though I personally liked Styrbiorn the Strong better. But if you like one, I think you’ll like both.

Eric Brighteyes is at its heart a romance. The entire book revolves around Eric’s love for Gudruda and her love for him, and the conniving of the evil witch Swanhild to tear them apart. Eric is essentially a noble Victorian hero full of virtue who just simply happens to be living in medieval Iceland. He is joined by his berserk friend, Skallagrim, for most of the novel, and they fare about on Viking adventures, but the Eric-Gudruda-Swanhild love triangle dominates. The tale is certainly entertaining and full of adventure, but the entire plot is revealed in a highly detailed and obvious dream sequence at the very beginning, which unfortunately detracts a bit from the book’s overall effect.

For comparison, Eddison’s Styrbiorn felt like more of an actual Norse hero who just happened to speak in Victorian Era slang, rather than being a full-blown Victorian Era hero transplanted to the ancient Northlands. And the full plot wasn’t revealed at the beginning (though if you know your sagas, you can very well guess how that book ends). For those reasons, I liked Styrbiorn the Strong better, but would still wholeheartedly recommend Eric Brighteyes to anyone looking for a classic Viking adventure novel, provided the language isn’t an impediment. For myself personally, the language is part of the pleasure. Some of my favorite little quips from the book are below.

”Skallagrim drank much ale and glared about him fiercely; for he had this fault, that at times he was drunken.”

”…and the Baresark fit came on. His eyes rolled, foam flew from his lips, his mouth grinned, and he was awesome to see.”

”Women shall bring him to his end, and he shall die a hero’s death, but not at the hand of his foes.”

”The wolf howls at thy door, Björn! The grave-worm opens his mouth! Trolls run to and fro upon thy threshold, and the ghosts of men speed Hellwards!”

”My honour shall be great for the feat, if I chance to live, and if I die—well, there is an end of troubling after maids and all other things.”

”Now dimly lighted of the rising moon by turns they bore Gudruda down the mountain side, till at length, utterly fordone, they saw the fires of Middalhof.”

”For when Love rises like the sun, wisdom melts like the mists.”

”It is a sad thing,” said Asmund, ”that so many men must die because some men are now dead.”

”It must be the Faroes,” answered Eric; ”now if we can but keep afloat for three hours more, we may yet die ashore.”

”Then Eric and Skallagrim leaned upon their weapons and mocked their foes, while these cursed and tore their beards with rage and shame.”

”Unhappy shall she live, and when she comes to die, but as a wilderness—but as a desolate winter snow, shall be the record of her days!”

”Eric comes and Whitefire is aloft, and no more shall ye stand before him whom ye have slandered than stands the birch before the lightning stroke!”

”Eric stared and said, ’By Odin! I see a shape of light like to the shape of a woman; it walks upon the waters towards us and the mist melts before it, and the sea grows calm beneath its feet.’”

”In the rosy glow there sat three giant forms of fire, and their shapes were the shapes of women. Before them was a loom of blackness that stretched from earth to sky, and they wove at it with threads of flame. They were splendid and terrible to see. Their hair streamed behind them like meteor flames, their eyes shone like lightning, and their breasts gleamed like the polished bucklers of the gods. They wove fiercely at the loom of blackness, and as they wove they sang.”

”Last night as we sat on Mosfell we saw the Norns weave our web of fate upon their loom of darkness. They sat on Hecla’s dome and wove their pictures in living flame, then rent the web and flew upward and southward and westward, crying our doom to sky and earth and sea.”

The Gods of Sweden’s Nationalmuseum

Monday, May 4th, 2020

The Big 3 abide in a courtyard near the entrance to the Nationalmuseum in central Stockholm. There, Odin, Thor, and Balder are carved in stone, and look very, very austere. They also look more Roman than Norse, with their togo-like attire barely covering their impeccable bodies of Italian Carrara marble, but that was the fashion of sculpture at the time of their creation. They were created in the 19th century by Bengt Erland Fogelberg, who also created many other magnificent statues, particularly of Swedish kings, which are largely located in very prominent outdoor spaces in Stockholm and Gothenburg.

But back in The Sculpture Courtyard, the Roman effect is further augmented by the presence of members of the actual Roman pantheon (Venus is present). The entourage is completed with famous statesmen, artists, and authors from Swedish history.

Nationalmuseum is a treasure trove of Swedish art. It covers a vast array of eras, styles, and themes, but for anyone interested in romanticized visions of the pagan Scandinavian past, it must be noted that it also hosts one of the greatest contributions to that particular niche of all: Carl Larsson’s painting, Midvinterblot, as shown below.

Keep On Rockin’ in the Norse World

Sunday, April 5th, 2020

Image of Gamla Uppsala

It’s plague season, so I entertained myself by jumping on the ol’ Bookshop bandwagon. By which I mean: I created a list of obscure Norse-inspired books on the site, which is still only in beta-mode. It serves as a nice counterpoint to Amazon, though, because a portion of proceeds go to local, independent bookstores, so they might have a chance in hell of re-opening sometime later this year. It’s also good for shameless self-promotion and has an enticing affiliate program.

Anyway, if you’re someone who might be looking for something Norse-ish to read that isn’t the usual Tolkien, Gaiman, or elves and dwarves fare, then please take a look. It features some overlooked/forgotten Viking adventure classics, and some bizarre recent offerings that engage with such timeless topics as Grettir the Strong going nuts in a destitute present-day housing complex, the domestication of endangered Finnish trolls, and the utterly brutal demise of the last Norse Greenlanders. The list be on Bookshop here:

Keep On Rockin’ in the Norse World

Norumbegan Takeover at Idle Hands

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

CANCELLED!!!!!

You only need one guess as to the reason why. When/if this is rescheduled, the update will be posted here. Until then, tusen tack och lycka till.

On March 29th, Matt Smith and I will be commiserating, consuming beer, and listening to ambient Norse music at Idle Hands Craft Ales in Malden, Mass. We’ll also be peddling our wares (because that’s the kind of people we are).

So, if you’re in the area, and fancy listening to the likes of Wardruna and talking about Egill Skallagrímsson’s horse-head-skewered nithing pole over a pint of Honeyball New England IPA or Check Raise American Stout, please do join us!

The Norumbegan non-tap takeover starts at noon, right when when the pilates/yoga class is ending. Here’s the official event page:

Raise a pint to the old gods at Idle Hands

The Art of Vikings, Metal, and Viking Metal

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

One of the great things about the internet, besides the ability to waste time by blabbering and shouting into its gaping abyss, is the ability to descend into its gaping abyss, doing nothing, except perhaps discovering badass things that you might have never otherwise ever encountered. And it was on one of these internet time-wasting expeditions that I inadvertently discovered the awesomeness of Christian Sloan Hall’s art. Sometimes the norns smile on you, even when you’re doing jack shit.

Anyway, Christian Sloan Hall is an artist who dabbles heavily in Norse themes, metal themes, and Norse-metal themes, which are all things that I highly condone. It’s an excellent body of work and his pieces have adorned official band t-shirts, backdrops, and posters, and have been found in the pages of both Metal Hammer and Terrorizer. A smattering of the bands that he has worked with include:

Amon Amarth
Dimmu Borgir
Heidevolk
Testament
Shrapnel
The Crown
High On Fire

(If you don’t recognize any of those names, then you would probably be better served by going here instead.)

There are many more pieces than can be shown here, but this is an introductory sampling to give you a taste:





And to view more of his work, all you need to do is visit his official website, store, or one of his online profiles (facebook in particular has an extensive gallery):

American Vendetta
DeathLord
Deviant Art
Facebook
Twitter

Lastly, while I normally blabber into the gaping abyss about art by artists who are long since dead and gone, if Mr. Hall’s work has whetted your appetite for relevant viewing options by other actual living folks, check out these earlier posts in which I blabbered about the excellence of noble brutishness and truly epic postage.

Gustaf Tenggren’s Tomtar and Troll

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Poor old Gustaf Tenggren, he just doesn’t get the credit that he deserves for his tomtar and troll work. John Bauer usually receives all the glory, and it’s much deserved, but he wasn’t the only one working with these Nordic gnomes and trolls and deep, dark woods. And in case you’re wondering, Bland Tomtar och Troll is an annual Swedish anthology of fairy tale-esque illustrations dating back to 1907. John Bauer was the first artist to take up the reins for the series, and Gustaf Tenggren followed him as the second.

But Tenggren hasn’t acquired quite the same degree of renown for his gnomes and trolls. Instead, he’s better known for his classic American children’s books and early animated movies like these:

But before all that, Tenggren got his start in Gothenburg and illustrated ten editions of Bland Tomtar och Troll. Then in 1920 he took the long voyage to Vinland where Little Golden Books and Disney awaited. After moving around the land among Ohio, New York, and Hollywood, he finally settled down with his wife in Norumbega—specifically on an island off the coast of Maine—because it reminded him of Sweden. And there he lived till his death in 1970. Below are some more examples of his folkloric/fairy-tale work, as well as a few links to more authoritative sources about the man.

The first link is to Lars Emanuelsson’s website about Gustaf Tenggren. Emanuelsson is pretty much an expert on Tenggren and has authored the book on the man (which is only available in Swedish in Sweden, of course). This site was the one that first opened my eyes to Tenggren’s glory:
Gustaf Tenggren’s World

The Saturday Evening Post has a good article about Tenggren’s life, with an emphasis on his role in early Disney animated films:
Gustaf Tenggren: The Man Who Shaped Disney’s First Animated Movies

Tulane University has a nice little blurb about the man, too, related to a larger art exhibit on display there:
Once Upon a Canvas: Exploring Fairy Tale Illustrations from 1870-1942

Native Norse American Hard Cider

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

And the journey deep into the darkest…depths of Norumbega continues, with alcoholic apple-based beverages! What could be more enticing than that?

As my previous post so ineloquently explained, the myth, the legend, and the glory of Norumbega lives on in scattered locations and shape-shifting forms in the wilds of the state of Maine. Which, in a certain manner of thinking, actually kind of makes some sense, since Maine was basically once a colony of Massachusetts, which is the epicenter of Norumbega.

At any rate, this time the Norumbegan subject of focus is the Norumbega Cidery in New Gloucester, Maine. It is a quaint and lovely gård set at the edge of some dark woods that is working to bring traditional cider-making techniques back for modern Vinlandians to enjoy, including growing its own apples in its own orchard. And the cider is quite good, too. When I visited there were approximately half a dozen varieties available for sampling; the elderberry enhanced cider was a stand-out for me. They even have live music during their weekend tastings, which adds to the rural-rustic atmosphere and pairs extremely well with refreshing fruit-based beverages. It’s definitely a spot worth visiting, even if you’re not a geek of false New England Norse history.

So raise a horn and skål to Norumbega Cidery!

Heroes of Norse Proliferation: Jackson Crawford

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Lo there! Spring is finally back in the dark gray Norumbegan air and that can only mean one thing: that I don’t know what that one thing is, and so rather than trying to find out, I am instead updating this pathetic, little excuse of a blog. But it’s not all bad, because this update involves a rare addition to the digital hall of the Heroes of Norse Proliferation with the induction of the one (and probably only) person alive who describes himself as “like if you crossed a viking and a cowboy, but got all recessive traits:” Jackson Crawford.

I first became aware of Dr. Crawford’s work about a year and a half ago when I inducted Dr. Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough into this very same mostly unknown location on the outer fringes of obscure cyberspace. We succeeded in exchanging a few friendly messages through the digital ether (thanks be to the elves) and then she dropped an atomic Norse bomb by sending me a link to Jackson Crawford’s Tattúínárdǿla saga: If Star Wars Were an Icelandic Saga. Which is pretty much exactly what it says it is, and follows the story of the family of Anakinn Himingangari and Lúkr Anakinsson in proper saga fashion. Which is exactly the sort of thing I admire.

The aforementioned Saga of the People of the Tattúín River Valley was something Dr. Crawford penned back in his pre-Dr. days, and now he teaches Scandinavian culture and literature at the University of Colorado. He has also published his own translations of medieval Scandinavian myths and sagas (so far The Poetic Edda and The Saga of the Volsungs).

And he also provides numerous insights and valuable information about all things pertaining to Norse everything for the masses on his epic youtube channel, which is an especially potent platform of Norse proliferation. Particularly of interest (to me) is his rendition of the Hávamál in cowboy dialect since I like things that play with language in bizarre, geeky Norse ways, and his lessons and auditory examples covering the pronunciation of Old Norse. You just can’t get this type of information down at the Bunker Hill Community College.

And that makes it all the more worthy of raising a horn for a proper skål indeed!

Rekindling the Varangian Flame, Part 2

Friday, March 8th, 2019

“Send the Magyars to slaughter us all in our sleep. Slit our throats, trample our bodies, and string us up to dangle, windblown and decaying from the nearest tree.”

The upbeat positivity and general good vibes of the suicidal Viking metal death-wish music project continues as the band members of Varjagikaarti relate what happened when they finally ventured deep into the land of the Rus.

Experience the true Fennoscandian cultural insensitivity of Part 2 over at Metal Sucks now.

And for your aural pleasure, Varjagikaarti wouldn’t be what they are today if it weren’t for these guys…

And my prior interviews with other Modern Vikings are still sadly online too. Check them out if for some reason you feel so inclined. Here’s a direct link to the one about spazzing out in a Stockholm subway station:

Self-Condemned in the Tunnelbana

Rekindling the Varangian Flame, Part 1

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

“Never have I seen a more complete denouncement of the meaning of human life than that murky, yellow obscenity that hovers above the rooftops of Miklagård like a celestial plague raining its poison down upon the feeble souls below during the darkest depths of the eternal night. It made me want to kill myself.”

And if that introductory quote doesn’t make you want to read all about the highly dysfunctional extreme Finnish metal band Varjagikaarti’s suicidal Viking metal voyage down the Dnieper River deep into the heart of old Varangian territory, then I don’t know what will.

Check out Part 1 over at Metal Sucks now.

And lest this post be wonting of a proper and thematically appropriate metal video…

And lastly, check out some of my prior interviews with other Modern Vikings too, if for some reason you feel so inclined. A couple direct links are below.

Fear and Loathing in Western Sweden

Dream Hard On

How to Dally with Whores and Lose Kingdoms

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

“The sea was dark like iron, flecked with white horses, and with a livid band of light in the far distance. There was a biting wind blew from the north-east.

‘Wither shall we sail now?’ asked Biorn, ‘if we be not to be drowned?’

Styrbiorn answered and said, ‘We will sail North.’

Styrbiorn the Strong is a little gem of a book by E. R. Eddison that traces the epic sea-voyaging, philandering, and warmongering adventures of Styrbjörn Olofsson as he raises hell all over Sweden, Denmark, and the broader Baltic Sea region in general. An actual figure from the sagas, Styrbjörn features in the short Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa and receives passing mention as a leader of the Jomsvikings in Eyrbyggja Saga and the Heimskringla, but because a proper saga was never actually devoted to his escapades (or was lost to the mists of time), Eddison decided to rectify the situation by creating one for him. This was way back in the 1920s and that version of the book has long since gone out of print, but fortunately the hearty champions of Scandinavian literature over at the University of Minnesota Press re-released it in 2011 with a new, special afterward by Paul Edmund Thomas.

Eddison was big on the sagas and even translated Egil’s Saga himself, so he was a guy who knew his source material and used it to inform much of what he wrote, both the historic fiction of Styrbiorn the Strong and a number of early 20th century fantasy novels that he wrote. His work was highly praised by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Ursula K. Le Guin, and anyone who reads fantasy will understand that’s no small matter, so it’s a bit of a pity he that isn’t more widely known.

The novel itself is a blast to read for anyone who likes a good Viking adventure and enjoys fine, ornate word-work. But saga purists may appreciate a word of caution: this is not the taut and straight-forward, emotionally-detached story-telling of the sagas. Nor does it conform to the easy-flowing sort of narrative style typical of today’s novels. This is an old-fashioned sort of story-telling in both the styling of the language used and the way in which the content is handled, which tends towards a generally chivalric/romanticized mood more along the lines of Wagner than the harsh, medieval brutality more commonly associated with Vikings at present day. But for those who can appreciate that (or at least, don’t mind it), reading Styrbiorn the Strong is a very worthwhile venture. And anyone familiar with the Völuspá, Völsunga Saga, and The Saga of the Jómsvíkings will find even more to enjoy because those are all drawn upon in some manner as Styrbjörn journeys to and from his native Sweden.

And because Styrbjörn’s heart is always set on heading northe (as the quote up top makes clear)—back home to Sweden—and because Norse adventures, epicness, and metal go hand-in-hand, what would this post be without a lyrically appropriate video clip by the guitar-serkers of Stormwarrior?

But a few more passages exemplifying the glory of Eddison’s language are worthy of direct quotation here before condemning this post to its final resting place down at the far end of Hel-Road. For epicness’ sake.

This passage refers to a pivotal moment that occurs midway through the novel. And while the name-calling is fun, the chivalric attitude of Eddison’s writing prevails, when Styrbjörn declares (on the same page) that what he did was wholly foul and of his own doing, and really no fault of the woman whom he viciously claimed to be a whore:

“After a while Styrbiorn, still in his former posture watching the endless procession of surges, said in hard toneless accents, ‘Shall I tell thee what I did in Sweden?’

‘Am not I thy brother?’ said Biorn.

Styrbiorn said, ‘I dallied with a whore, and I lost a kingdom.'”

Eddison’s epic battle descriptions are pretty badass. This battle scene features livestock as weapons and takes place at Fyrisvellir, near Gamla Uppsala, which should ring a bell for anyone familiar with Hrólfr Kraki’s Saga:

“And now there was an evil din of cattle bellowing and horses squealing, and there was many a man slain there or trampled or maimed or limb-lopped and their array near broken, and much folk fell both of the Jomsburgers and of them that drave on the beasts.”

And this is just simply one of the most glorious descriptions of Valhalla that I have ever read:

“On a sudden our Father Odin lifted up a hand, and there was darkness in heaven all save the light of the Father’s face, and they all stood up and waited in the listening gloom. And now was a noise far off, like lashing rain among leaves in a forest, and with it a rolling as of thunders far away, and pale lightnings flickered afar and vanished and flickered again through the night. Very slowly at first, then with swift strides, it drew nearer, until the roar of the tempest was like the roar of cataracts fed to fury by a cloud-burst among mountains. The lightnings streamed in rivers of molten steel and silver from the roof-beams of that hall, which is lofty as the tent of night, and the Einheriar clashed their weapons together and shouted with a shout that was heard above the deafening thunder: ‘Hail the choosers! the storm-raisers! Hail to the shield-mays of the Lord of Spears, the Father of Ages, the Loving One! Hail to the lords of earth whom they bring to join our fellowship!'”

Bifrost Doth Beckon

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Bifrost works in mysterious ways. Sometimes it reveals itself after a rain shower, leading to a place where gold may be plundered and leprechauns captured to be sold into slavery. Other times it takes the form of a stone cold rainbow bridge. But perhaps best of all is when it appears in the form of a beer bottle to soothe our weary souls on these cold winter nights.

I’ve actually been aware of this version of Bifrost’s existence for about a decade now, but this is the first time that I’ve ever actually encountered it in person, which for a sad individual who gets off on the combination of Norse anything with alcohol anything makes it a very special moment.

This liquid Bifrost is brought to us by those fine brewers at Elysian Brewing Company in Seattle (click the “seasonal” tab on their page if you want to read their official blurb about Bifrost). It’s a pale ale brewed for the grim and frostbitten season with some hints of spice and a nice medium level of bitterness, and really good. I enjoyed drinking it even more than I enjoyed taking the picture above to preserve its unadulterated glory for all digital prosperity. And no, I didn’t drink it straight out of the bottle, but rather poured it into my horn, as one should.

Norumbega Blót

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

In the shadow of Leif Eriksson’s Tower at Norumbega, Vinland

Lo there did we honor the Leif the Lucky at the sacred site of his Vinland colony! Indeed, a make-shift blót was recently held to honor the colonizer of Norumbega with mead and metal along the banks of the not-so-swiftly moving Charles River. And though we made no actual sacrifices (unless the contents of a ceramic bottle of Dansk Mjød Viking Blod qualifies), Leif nonetheless did smile upon us by granting passage to the top of his tower, which is usually barred off because that is the era in which we live. Needless to say, the make-shift blót was a huge success and surely a bountiful harvest is in store for the coming year.*

The open-handed proginetor of barbaric nobility performed skaldic arts and generously bequeathed idols of Odin, Thor, and Tyr for alcoholic worship upon the altar of erroneous history

Hail Tyr! And how appropriate that this is being posted on a Tuesday—is this coincidence, or fate?

We also perfected the magical “Skull Splitter” disappearing trick

And what would a Norumbega blót be without a thematically appropriate song sung in Swedish but transcribed only in runes?

*Leif’s tower bears a striking resemblance to Frey’s most distinctive feature, so the fact that we intruded into what was supposed to be an “impregnable” stone shaft is ripe with all sorts of symbolic meaning.

‘Tis the Season for Classic American Paintings of Pagan Finnish Santa Look-Alikes

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

THE MAGICIAN AND THE MAID OF BEAUTY
“High in the sky he saw a rainbow, and on it the Maid of Beauty.” (Wainamoinen returns home on a sledge from his exile in the icy wastes of Pohyola and attempts—extremely unsuccessfully—to flirt with the most attractive woman alive in the sky.)

Normally this dreadful, little blog focuses only on the Scandia part of Fennoscandia, but since Yule is in the air (or at least the 21st century commercialized version of it is on the shopping aisles, airwaves, etc.), it seems appropriate to deviate from that rigid stance and benignly embrace the Fenno side. Which of course can only mean: The Kalevala, Finnish metal, and/or Finnish metal based upon The Kalevala. In this particular instance, it’s specifically about the Kalevelian paintings done by N.C. Wyeth in 1912 for James Baldwin’s The Sampo: Hero Adventures from the Finnish Kalevala, which is no longer in print under the original name but has been re-released by those mighty re-printers of archaic, copy-right-expired texts, Dover Publications.

Adding to the fun trivia side of things, the venerable N.C. Wyeth was also a genuine Masshole (from Needham) who not only illustrated The Kalevala, but also illustrated other great stories such as Robin Hood, King Arthur, Treasure Island, and The Last of the Mohicans, all of which are much, much better known than The Kalevala outside of Finland. And, to use the sort of parlance favored by medieval Icelandic scribes (which isn’t what this post is about, but still), N.C. also sired Andrew Wyeth in a fruitful union between the houses of Wyeth and Bockius, and thus produced a male heir to inherit his artist’s crown, which has since passed on to Andrew’s son, Jamie. Much of the art of the Wyeth lineage is on display and online at The Brandywine River Museum of Art, but N.C.’s less-Santa-like Kalevelian works are also depicted below; the phrases in quotes are words from Baldwin’s text, and I’ve provided my own clarifications in parenthetical yellow to help put it all in context.

THE HAG OF THE ROCK
“An old, old woman, gray-eyed, hook-nosed, wrinkled, was sitting on the rock and busily spinning.”
(To prevent Wainamoinen from leaving the land of the dead, the evil hag relies on the age-old trick of failed hero-capturing: spinning an insane amount of thread that her cohort, an evil wizard, weaves together into a massive and ultimately ineffective fishing net.)

THE SLAVE BOY
“Then, at length, when all were peacefully feeding, he sat down upon a grassy hummock and looked around him, sad, lonely, vindictive.”
(Ilmarinen’s slave is pissed that the kitchen-wench put a rock in his bread.)

THE GOLDEN MAIDEN
“The flames died suddenly away, and out of the vessel there sprang a wonderful image—the image of a beautiful maiden.”
(Ilmarinen gets lonely after his entire household is mercilessly slaughtered, so he uses his unworldly blacksmith skills to create what is essentially an ancient blow-up doll, except that it’s made entirely out of gold and silver.)

And last, but not least, what would a post about Kalevelian art be without an appropriate Finnish metal soundtrack to accompany it? Because nothing screams seasonal festivity and Yuletide tradition like blasting Amorphis’ epic Kalevala concept album, Tales from the Thousand Lakes: