Ian Mac Eochagáin works wonders with the Kalevala.
My translation of the first few verses of the Kalevala, Finland’s national epic, which was compiled by Elias Lönnrot and first published in 1835. Lönnrot travelled through remote areas of eastern Finland to gather local folklore. The result was to be a nation-forming work that was mythological and concerned with the underworld, revenge and violence.
The Kalevala metre is famous. One often hears that it is impossible to reproduce in other languages. I disagree. It is a matter of recognising the initially stressed, three-, four- or five-syllable groupings that are combined to make line-halves of eight syllables. I believe the translator must also take the orthodoxy of initial stress in Finnish words with a grain of salt: although the first stress is the strongest, I think words such as “ajattelevi” have a significant secondary stress in the third syllable. The Kalevala would seem, then, to be mostly trochaic.
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