Lönnrot visited Vuokkiniemi for the first time in the autumn
of 1833 on his fourth field trip, the one that proved crucial to
the ultimate composition of the Kalevala. On this trip, Lönnrot
had the opportunity of recording wedding songs, of which he wrote:
"I have heard numerous variants of these elsewhere, but
nowhere have they been this complete."
That same autumn Lönnrot wrote a manuscript entitled "The
Songs of the Marrying Folk" based on the wedding songs
he had collected. Lönnrot never had the work published, because
he had made his decision to create an epic and wanted to include
the wedding songs in it.
On his fifth field trip, Lönnrot spent just a single night
(23 April 1834) in Vuokkiniemi. As he wrote: "I went for a
walk in the village the next morning and wrote down whatever songs
visit to Vuokkiniemi on his sixth field trip was also a brief one.
During the second phase of his seventh journey, however, he spent
four days in the village, collecting, in his words, "poems
from quite a few people."
The number of poems Lönnrot recorded in Vuokkiniemi does not
compare with what the best bardic villages yielded. But the treasures
he collected in the village - in addition to the wedding songs -
included a lyric poem unique in being the only recorded folk poem
to use the place name "Kalevala." Numerous variants of
this poem, "The Maiden of Kalevala," which is found in
Volume III of the Kanteletar (Poem 21), exist but only that recorded
by Lönnrot in Vuokkiniemi contains the word "Kalevala".
It counts as one of Lönnrot's great strokes of genius to have
given the epic and the land of its heroes this name, one which is
easy to pronounce in every language and which connects them to their
mythical ancestor, the folk-poetry figure Kaleva.
Poetry collecting in Vuokkiniemi
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