The Kalevala: The Epic Poem of Finland
The Kalevala: The Epic Poem of Finland is a book and epic poem which the Finn Elias Lonnrot compiled from Finnish and Karelian folklore in the 19th ... Show synopsis The Kalevala: The Epic Poem of Finland is a book and epic poem which the Finn Elias Lonnrot compiled 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 language literature. Karelians in the Republic of Karelia and other Balto-Finnic speakers also value the work. The Kalevala is credited with some of the inspiration for the national awakening that ultimately led to Finland's independence from Russia in 1917. The name can be interpreted as the "lands of Kaleva." The epic consists of 22,795 verses, divided into fifty cantos or "chapters." Finnish folk poetry was first written down in the 1670s, followed by a few collectors during the next centuries. The poetry was usually sung to tunes built on a pentachord, sometimes assisted by the kantele (a kind of five-string zither). The rhythm could vary but the tunes were arranged in either two or four lines consisting of five beats each. Sometimes the poems were performed antiphonally, sometimes they were a part of a "singing-match" between knowers of the tradition.