4. Birth, Death and the Forest

From the creation myth of Luonnotar, to the death and resurrection of Lemminkäinen, to the dark forest deity of Tapio, Jean Sibelius drew extensively on the Finnish poetic epic, the Kalevala.

Other Scandinavian nations have their eddas and sagas but for the Finns – who belong to a completely different language group to their neighbours (Finno-Ugrian) – it’s the collection that Elias Lönnrot assembled from the oral folk tradition of Karelia and Finland, which he named the Kalevala, that they identify as their own national epic.

First, birth:


Finnish/English text

… then, death…

The Swan of Tuonela

… and, finally, nature: the ‘ancient, mysterious’ northern forests, ‘brooding savage dreams’:


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