What is up with Ilmarinen? For someone so arrested by the beauty of a witch’s daughter, he’s sure taking his sweet time making that Sampo. First a crossbow, then a boat, and now a cow? I guess he had to forge something to help get that boat out of the way…

I don’t envy our bovine friend.

So the story of Ilmarinen and the forging of the Sampo continues. After forging the deadly crossbow and the ill-tempered boat he somehow forges a cow. Did I mention that cow was also ill-tempered? Ilmarinen, the most skilled blacksmith to ever have lived, apparently can’t craft a courteous object to save his life. Go figure. I’m starting to think Vainamoinen’s glowing recomendation was a bit premature.

So Ilmarinen forges a living golden cow. Lonnrot and others would have us believe this was purely an accident and that it was immediately broken down and pushed back into the flames of the forge (as were the creations previously pulled from its fires). I have (using the power of my imagination) read between the lines to help explain the truth behind this cow’s short but useful existence.

Here’s a bit pertaining to the Forging as written by John Martin Crawford. You get a sense of the lyrical nature of Finnish epics from it but, not being in the original language and structure, I’m sure it’s not quite the same. If you’d like to read the entire passage, you can do so here.

On the third day, Ilmarinen,
First of all the metal-workers,
Downward bent and well examined,
On the bottom of the furnace;
There be saw a heifer rising,
Golden were the horns of Kimmo,
On her head the Bear of heaven,
On her brow a disc of sunshine,
Beautiful the cow of magic;
But alas! she is ill-tempered,
Rushes headlong through the forest,
Rushes through the swamps and meadows,
Wasting all her milk in running.