Kalevala is an epic composed in the XIX century by Elias Lönnrot, folklorist and doctor, based on folk poems of Finnish mythology transmitted orally. It is considered the Finnish national epic and is one of the most important works in Finnish. A first version, published in 1835, was followed in 1849 by a considerably enlarged edition of about 23,000 verses. Kalevala is a kind of patchwork, obtained by assembling authentic folk poems collected between 1834 and 1847 in the Finnish countryside, especially in Karelia. This poem represents the cornerstone of Finnish national identity. This epic has influenced many Finnish artists and, through its translation into 51 languages, is world famous.
The Kalevala (which means Kaleva's country, the emphasis on the first syllable) is a kaleidoscope of stories ranging from myths, legends, to others more heroic, epic or lyrical, and which are partly independent one another.
The main character is bard Väinämöinen, a magician who plays kantele, the Finnish stringed instrument. He is the son of Ilmatar, the goddess of the Air and the mother of Water. The Kalevala begins with a story of creation, where the sky, the Earth, the Sun and the Moon are born from duck eggs that are deposited on the knee of Ilmatar. Väinämöinen appears from the first song.