Literary Kalevala-Metre and Hybrid Poetics in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Finland

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This article examines the blurred boundaries between different oral and literary poetics in early modern Finland. Both the rst written examples of traditional Finnic oral poetry (in so-called Kalevala-metre with no rhymes or stanza structures) and the rst rhymed and stanzaic poems originate from this very same period, often in various hybrid forms. Ambiguity and the hybrid character of poems means the contemporary audiences may have interpreted individual poems as relating to several poetic traditions.

The material demonstrates that the elites had knowledge of oral poetics that they both avoided and applied in various ways. In Lutheran hymns, the features of traditional oral poetry were rst avoided, but, from the 1580s onwards, allit- eration and some other features were incorporated into rhymed, iambic stanzas. At the same time, the clergymen and scholars also created a rhymed, heavily alliterated and trochaic genre of literary poems, which was apparently conceived as a version of the oral Finnish poetic form. Later scholars have often interpreted this learned, literary form as a misunderstanding of traditional oral poetics. In this article, it is understood as an intentional, hybrid form of rhymed couplets and Kalevala-metre. The various hybrid uses indicate that – contrary to the later scholarly views – the early modern writers did not conceive the old oral form as a conclusively pagan metre that should be strictly avoided.
TidskriftFolklore. Electronic Journal of Folklore
Sidor (från-till)13–48
Antal sidor36
StatusPublicerad - 2017
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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