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The Swan of Tuonela, by Ben Garrison

“The black swan on the Black River sings a sad song. Lemminkainen was sent to kill the swan, but the swan’s song was so beautiful he was unable to do so. A Finnish god later punishes Lemminkainen for this transgression and his body was cut up and thrown into the river. His mother later rescues him and sews his body back together. Life is infused into Lemminkainen again with the help of another god and a magic drop of honey.”

Tuonela, reached by crossing a ‘dark stream’, is the realm of the dead, or the Underworld of Finnish and Estonian mythology.

Lemminkainen is one of the Heroes of the Kalevala, and is considered to be a composite of various heroes from oral poetry. He is usually depicted as a young, beautiful warrior with flowing blond hair. Parallels have been drawn between Lemminkainen and the tragic figure of Baldr from Norse Mythology.

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