Lönnrot's time, Ponkalahti was a very small village, with only
four or five houses.
Lönnrot passed through Ponkalahti on his fourth field trip,
which marked his first visit to Vuokkiniemi. He had pleasant memories
of the village:
I came to Ponkalahti late in the evening and my hosts asked
me immediately if I would like to bathe. I thought they had already
heated the sauna and was surprised when I noticed they were heating
it just for me. This is how friendly the people are everywhere
here. Their normal hospitality includes food, a sauna and lingonberries,
but I doubt they have enough berries to last the entire year.
Lönnrot continued his journey the next day to Vuonninen and
engaged two brothers to row him the 20 km. He put the age of the
older of the two at between 15 and 20 years, that of the younger
at 7 or 8 years.
the way, the older of the boys, when he heard Lönnrot was collecting
poetry, expressed his bewilderment that anyone should have to travel
for such a purpose. He proceeded to sing parts of the poems about
Väinämöinen, Joukahainen and Lemminkäinen, adding
that anyone could sing as much as he did if they only took the trouble
to do so.
Lönnrot noticed that the poems which the boy sang differed
in many respects from the ones he knew and got him to "take
the trouble" to sing by offering him an extra 20 kopeks in
addition to the fee he had agreed to pay him for rowing. The younger
brother, also wanting to make some money, promised to tell Lönnrot
a tale if he would give him one "rossa" (a two-kopeck
I promised him two if he would only wait until I finished
writing down the poems his brother had sung. He agreed to this
at first, but when we were only 2 or 3 km from our destination
and I was still writing down what the brother had sung, he started
to cry. I had to stop recording the poems and focus on his tale.
Lönnrot was somewhat suspicious of the boy's offer but, when
he heard the tale, he was impressed by its style and by the manner
in which it was presented:
one part of the tale, where the boy wanted to describe a bird
flying higher and higher until it was out of sight, he did it
as follows: "Rose, rose, rose, rose, rose" and "flew,
flew, flew, flew, flew". When saying these words, he lowered
his voice from the first 'rose' and first 'flew' onwards, so that
by the last word in each series it was just as difficult to hear
his voice as it would have been to see a bird flying as high as
he was trying to describe it flying.
four decades later, in 1877, Borenius "discovered" the
older of the two brothers, whose bardic talents had improved further.
The brother was 61 at the time, meaning he had been 17 when Lönnrot
met him, and his name was Huotari Prokkonen.