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prove every opportunity to dedicate itself seriously to, healthful forms of recreation in the open, such as can be arranged for in appropriate open play spaces.
A campaign for the purpose of arousing public sentiment for the better protection of our national parks would be timely, since these with their natural scenic and historic features should at all hazards be preserved as great and unique public playgrounds. Unquestionably, they should be withdrawn from commercial and industrial developments, which have been permitted in recent times. It is to be hoped that the government will formulate a definite policy that would be in conformity with an effective, broad program calculated to gratify every friend of the national park system and thus protect our actual and vital public interests. The country stands in need of the development of more abundant recreation opportunities.
FINNISH POETRY_NATURE'S MIRROR
By Professor EUGENE VAN CLEEF
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
UT of the mêlée of the world's masses of struggling humanity
striving during the past eight years to attain "a place in the sun," there has been born a new republic-the Republic of Finland. The birth of this republic was the signal for a glorious Finnish celebration, for it marked the termination of century-old efforts to throw off the yoke of a Russian autocracy. The Finnish declaration of independence attracted the entire world. The great powers affixed their stamp of approval and turned to other world affairs perhaps of greater significance. However, for the Finn the event was notable. He may now and for generations to come, with justifiable pride, tell to his children the story of the “Declaration of Independence" of December 6, 1917, and of the Constitutional law of June 14, 1919, whereby Finland officially declared herself a member of the world family of republics.
The Finns are a unique people. The development of their nationalistic spirit is likewise unique. This spirit was crystallized by the conversion of their folk-song into a national epic-the Kalevala, an epic ranking in quality and originality with the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Niebelunge. The Finns are an imaginative folk, a characteristic they owe to their oriental ancestry. There is little doubt that the first settlers in Finland migrated from central Asia, probably from the region of the Altai mountains. They brought with them a high regard for the controlling influences of the laws of nature and an unequalled devotion to the out-of-doors. They deify the elements of nature, and list among their gods, the God of Waters, God of Forests, God of Fire, God of Breezes and numerous others. Their mythology is essentially a nature worship. In the Kalevala it finds its best expression.
For the composition of the folk-songs into epic form, the Finns are indebted to Elias Lönnrot, first a physician and later a professor of the Finnish language. He appreciated the beauty, the charm and the rare culture expressed by the Finnish folk-songs and resolved that they should be preserved to posterity. These verses, sung through the ages, had never been recorded, so Lönnrot determined to collect them. He traveled to the remotest parts of Finland where modernisms had not yet penetrated and as he listened hour after hour to the singing of the peasantry, faithfully recorded each canto. Most of the songs were collected in the remote northern portions of the province of East Karelia. Returning home with his note-books bulging with invaluable records, Lönnrot knitted the verses into a homogeneous whole of some 27,000 lines, and in 1835 gave to the world the results of his years of untiring efforts—the Kalevala.
The Kalevala brought home to the Finns the realization of a common language. For the first time did they appreciate the possession of a language meriting the same consideration as Russian, German, Swedish or other recognized national tongues. They further saw the basis for a sympathetic bond among all the Finns and so, almost as soon as Lönnrot's magnificent work made its appearance, it was hailed as the epic of the Finnish people. The Kalevala marked the virtual beginning of an intensive spirit of nationalism throughout Finland.
While all writers do not credit the Kalevala as a true epic, nor wholly discredit it as such, nevertheless they regard the production as extraordinary and certainly approaching closely to an epic. In any event, be it an epic or nearly so, there is agreement as to the uniqueness in its style, in the beauty of its conceptions and in its dramatic presentation of the struggle for existence among a people never known to flinch under the stress of nature's most discouraging environment.
Before detailing the content of the Kalevala, it is of interest to note the peasant's manner of singing the runes. The singers seat themselves upon low benches or stools, and facing each other with outstretched arms, take hold hands; then, as they sway their bodies to and fro in see-saw fashion, first one sings a song and then the other. The singing and see-sawing continue until one or the other runs out of verses. Sometimes others in the party take the places of those who have just finished and either repeat verses or begin a new series constituting a new rune. The meter is unrhymed. It is like that in Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha." In fact, Longfellow was so impressed with the Kalevala that he admittedly patterned his song after it and it is said even borrowed some of the characters and incidents. The singing is accompanied by the playing of the kantele, an instrument similar to the dulcimer. The music itself is in a minor key and as it is sung resembles more nearly a chant than a melodious air.
The Kalevala, composed as it is of the folk songs of a people largely if not wholly dependent upon their own ingenuity for the gaining of a livelihood, is really the story of the struggle of the Finn to overcome the titanic handicaps set against him by nature. His “land of a thousand lakes” is a land of thousands of lakes, a land of vast swamps with only here and there a diminutive area suitable for cultivation. The lowland depressions invite premature frosts which often destroy in a night crops representing the hard labor of many months. No surplus of foods to be consumed during periods of scarcity can be accumulated where frost is master. Not only are products of the soil scant, but raw materials for manufactures are limited. The hardy forests for lumber and pulp and the numerous rapids for power send a ray of hope down the Finn's uncertain pathway toward success. Yet in the face of these limitations the Finn has plodded on patiently and uncomplainingly until to-day he has attained a place among the peoples of the earth which many may well envy.
The Finnish farmer is constantly threatened by frost. He knows not when or where it will fall next. A robber-band could hardly worry him more, for there would be some hope of resistance or escape, but the frost is not to be fought nor does it discriminate as to its prey. No wonder, then, that in the national epic Frost is personified and its destructive propensities narrated. In Rune 30 of the Kalevala, Frost interrupts the progress of Lemminkainen, one of the four heroes of the story, who proposes an attack against Pohjola, the North Country. (This region is now represented by Lapland.) Here he had previously gone upon an unsuccessful venture to woo the daughter of Louhi, Mistress of Pohjola. Lemminkainen remonstrated with Frost in no uncertain terms and describes him as follows:
... Evil-born and evil-nurtured,
Then the young lad lived in hedges,
The heavenly bodies as well as the elements of the earth are humanized and deified. They are removed and replaced and caused to perform as circumstances may dictate, with a facility such as characterizes the most magnificent flights of the imagination. Louhi, Mistress of Pohjola, hides the Sun and Moon when the heroes Ilmarinen, Wainamoinen and Lemminkainen organize an expedition against her in order to rob her of the Sampo-"the talisman of success. Her resistance is finally overcome and she is forced to restore the Sun and Moon. The restoration (in Rune 49) is accomplished and Wainamoinen, Son of the Air and of the Virgin of the Atmosphere, a minstrel of magic power, observes the return of these heavenly bodies and recites as follows:
Greetings to thee, Sun of fortune,
Rise, thou silver Sun, each morning,
To the joy of Kalevala! A cheerful aspect of the Finnish environment is presented in the Farewell song (in Rune 24) of the daughter of Pohjola who has become bride of the smith and craftsman Ilmarinen. This song paints a landscape to whose attractiveness those can well attest who have tramped across Finland's fens or through her forests.
Send to all my farewell greetings,