Music in the Greenwood...


    Vainamoinen,

    old magician, ancient sage, took an ax, took a carving knife, walked in the Northland woods, strode through the ancient forest. Birds chattered, creatures scattered.

    Said Vainamoinen, “Now I’ll make something never seen before— a kantele for age-old Louhi, a five-string instrument for Northland.”

    He found an alder. He asked, “Is a kantele within you?”

    The alder answered, “My wood is rotten, my timber infested. No kantele is within me.”

    He found a pine. “Is a kantele within you?”

    The pine answered, “My wood is gnarled, my timber knotty. No kantele is within me.”

    He found a birch. “Is a kantele within you?”

    The birch answered, “My wood is sound, my timber clear. A fine kantele is within me.”

    Vainamoinen felled the birch, cut a section from the log. He carved the body of a kantele, whittled the frame of the instrument. Tuning pegs came from an oak branch, strings from his own long beard.

    The kantele was ready. He took it to the river’s edge, sat himself on a rock, set the instrument on his lap. His fingers stroked the strings, his thumbs caressed them. The forest grew still, the river quiet. Never was such sweet music heard, such lovely melody given life.

    Vainamoinen played and the forest animals gathered. Squirrels rested in the branches above, rabbits and foxes at his feet. The elk stood at his side, the bear and the wolf sat among the rest.

    Vainamoinen played and the river fish assembled. Pike and salmon swam in close, carp and perch and whitefish mingled in the reeds.

    Vainamoinen played and the birds flocked to listen. The hawk and the eagle perched in the trees, swans and geese floated on the river. Buntings, larks, and chaffinches landed everywhere, settled on his shoulders.

    Vainamoinen played and all things wanted to hear. The reeds leaned forward, the trees bent over. The river slowed to catch the tune, the rocks hastened to learn the rhythm. Even the sun turned an ear, straining to hear the rising tones.

    The old man wept for joy. The kantele resounded.

    In th