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This review is taken from PN Review 97, Volume 20 Number 5, May - June 1994.

CURES FOR HIGH MINDEDNESS The Kanteletar, selected and translated with an introduction and notes by Keith Bosley (Oxford University Press) £4.99
RedKnight: Serbian WomensSongs, translated by Daniel Weissbort and Tomislav Longinovic with apreface by Charles Simic, an introduction by Tomislav Longinovic, illustrations and an afterword by Audrey Jones, and a translator's afterword by Daniel Weissbort (Menard Press/ King's College London) £8.95

Keith Bosley's is the first translation in English ofaselection of the songs andballads from the Finnish oral tradition collected by Elias L6nnrot (1802-84) and published in 1840 -1 as a companion to his first version of the Kalevala. A few years ago, the Oxford University Press published in its World's Classics series Bosley's superb new translation ofthe Kalevala, and now there is this, which deserves equal acclaim.

The selection is in seven parts three poems from the Scandinavian side of the tradition, including a version of 'Edward'; and from the Finnish oral tradition proper, lyrics sung by both sexes, girls' songs, women's songs, boys' songs, men's songs and ballads. For the first part, Bosley uses metres that are essentially traditional English metres, 'squared'and basedon stress, but for the properly Finnish pieces he uses the metre he devised for his translation of the Kalevala: lines mostly of seven or five syllables' occasionally nine, avoiding the monotonous patter ofthe English trochaic tetrameter (hitherto used in Germanic languages, for example by Kirby, as the equivalent of the finnish folk metre), and avoiding also, in the seven-syllable lines, trochaic tetrameter catalectic. There tend naturally to be three stresses in the seven-syllable lines and two in the five-syllable lines, but the 'play' allowed by the unstressed syllables means thatthese aren't planted with a plodding regularity. The result is a delicately roughened, fresh and naive rhythm with a strong forward impetus:
 
They came to a wolf's footprints.
The maid ...


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