After Radagaisus and Ceinwen became Tanists (late 2009 and early 2010), I wrote sonnets to five of the kingdoms they visited, to be included in gift baskets.
Fair Ealdormere, the poets rightly sing
Your praises: Warrior bold and subtle crafter!
Serving-served by glorious Queen and King!
Your songs profound yet ringing joyous laughter!
Forgive a parent's pride, then, if you will,
And think not we, unthinking, think to deign.
Our tale down through the ages echos still:
Precocious colt, whose stubborn parent's reign
Is ended oversoon, matures to found
A realm the potent equal of his sire's.
That parent, lately, seeks a common ground,
And common purpose concord then inspires.
Then let our hands reach out to one another's,
And let us walk together, reborn brothers.
Divine Atlantia, which Divinity
Rules thee? The erne soars higher than the dove,
And Venus, shamed at her reduced degree,
Would glove her beauty and set thee above.
Apollo's laid his lyre to rest, enchanted
By the fire of your exquisite bards.
Minerva? No. To your great warriors granted
Is the aegis which your border guards.
No, to your craftsmen still Minerva nods
And wisdom guides her to defer to thee
In Wisdom. Ceres' sheaf your land applauds
Conceding full your bounty's primacy.
Sprung from Jove's brow, a pantheon entire
Art thou, Atlantia, and no gods require.
The blood rose in our cheeks - but none was shed -
The day you were conceived, and at your birth
The paeans quickly 'cross the boundary sped:
A long-held dream fulfilled of noble worth.
Now let that blood again across the breach
Find flow, congruent current to our aim.
When each a common strength bestows, then each
That self-same strength accrues, and each may claim
A share of glory. Your gift, bourn ingrained,
And ours a late-found wisdom dearly earned,
When children lost as equals are regained -
A parent's lesson overdue still learned.
Then Griffin with the Dragon, let's ascend
And meet as brother, counterpart and friend.
Alike unto the western wind that forms
In heartland's heart, across the fertile fields
A Kingdom-household army fiercely storms,
Where shields are linked to bright unyielding shields.
And borne upon that gale, a golden bolt
Appears - in flight, remembrance of the morn
Its wings unfolded, testing its revolt -
When falcon of the dragon's egg was born.
On guard, its wise and noble brow inflected,
Observing from the highland purple far
Horizons with the setting sun reflected
Where prairie grass meets dense and blazing star.
So let them fly together, falcon bold
And dragon stout, brothers as of old.
Upon the coronation of Malcolm and Tessa
Move with your voice the scarlet troops amassed,
And in their action Malcolm's fame will sing.
Let none deny them while the battles last:
Come forth, ye Sylan armies, for your king.
O Tessa, now your countenance instill
Landsmen of Aethelmearc with fervent flame:
Make sweet the land, your artisans full fill,
Extend your love and be repaid in fame.
Then, Malcolm, Tessa, your estate
True to your royal image will remain:
Eternal portrait of each noble trait
Sketched in the people of your rare domain.
So may a King and Queen their people sway
And so their folk their character portray.
For THL (now Baroness) Serena Kimbalwyke upon her victory in the Kingdom A&S championship at Spring Crown, May 29, 2010. The competition is a pentathlon, and all of her entries were related to sericulture (silkworm farming); a horse and acorns appear on her device.
Serena, fascinate your quarry with a snare
Of gossamer, ephemeral lustrous strands:
You bind the harvest rare in silken bands
That, resolute, hold fast and take the faire.
Serious matter births from trivial start.
The oak for trifling acorn does account;
The merest foal will grow to sturdiest mount;
And cloths of silk are spun from from smallest part.
Yet tree unhusbanded may not grow straight;
And single oak does not a forest make.
The horse untamed leaves rider in its wake;
The horse unteamed still cannot pull the weight.
But you, like Ceres, culture eggs to moth.
Five woven strands alone the prize bequeath!
For even strong as silk wins not the wreath,
Unless 'tis braided cord or woven cloth.
You shall be in-starred on the black of night,
A shining silken road to Pennsic's war,
A single warrior tallying army's score,
A kingdom's prize, a barony's delight.
Written on behalf of the Barony of the Cleftlands for the creation of the Barony of Ayreton and the investiture of the first Baron and Baroness. References in the first stanza are to the heraldry of the component Shires and Province, and of the new Barony.
Desmesne ancient, where Cariadoc
A potent kingdom sired: O elder stock,
New born of lands where laurel forests rise
Round inland sea, where foxes' chorused cries
The seven suns report, live long beneath
Five blazing stars encircling silvered wreath.
From many, one: a cleft land knows this lay,
Dear cousin and compeer, and on this day
We shall embrace you, eldest brother grown
To youngest but with birthright still its own.
Meet we then in stately solemn mirth,
To celebrate at your esteemed rebirth.
Written in honor of the Crown Tourney victory of Eikbrandr and Runa, late 2008.
Even a general must genuflect one day,
If that day he receives the Tanists' wreath.
Know ye then the Dragon to the dais
Brought our captain from the battle heath.
Ring sword on shield to celebrate Eikbrandr!
Are there sums of soldiers he had fought?
Need we praise his wise pursuit of battle?
Do we not recognize the vict'ries wrought?
Runa, lady mirthful and most learned,
Arise and loyally take our leader's arm.
None prevail against your sweet persuasion -
Draw onetime enemies to us and disarm.
Raven dauntless soars now with the Dragon.
Under the Midrealm's vert argent and gules.
Next, standards bearing sable raise in honor
As Eikbrandr with his Runa rules.
Written for the introduction of the combatants at the Cleftlands Dessert Revel Tourney, February 24, 2010. Among other accomplishments, Hoskuldr is a fine skaldic poet, so I was honored that he asked me to write and deliver this. He fought for the honor of his lady Sigrún, and his son Victor also processed as his shield-bearer.
Hear then, great ones, / An axe-reddener's glory told.
Lo, list-foes death-bound, hear / Of your life's-end nearing,
Hear of this Hoskuldr Daþaskald, / Houseman of the raven's shield,
Deed-skald, poet of warriors, / Bringer of battle, hastener of death.
Inked on his arms, his deeds foretell / The fall of flaxen dolls - his foes.
Fallen they are and many more / Will move their last today.
And must his words stride forth / Fierce as his deeds
To shame those seeking to bury / Memory of his crippling blows?
Comes with him his Sigrún shrewd, / Mystic sage in victory, strong,
Drawn by bold retellings of his deeds - / Powerful yet tender is she.
Inspiration of Hoskuldr-battle-pledged, / Breathing life into his words,
Awakening axe and sword, / Sweetening his victory with love.
And bearing shield and axe, / The victor of the battle
For their hearts, battle-elf, / Promising havoc and war,
In manly form to be - / A fierceness foretold.
They beg of you your leave / To join these lists today.
This sonnet predates my association with the SCA, but it's essentially period and was first presented at the Cleftlands Standard Bearers competition, April 5, 2008.
The human heart is food for the human soul,
And that is where I let my spirit feed.
At times I'm tempted to consume it whole,
Yet it renews itself by its own creed.
The human heart enslaves us, willing slave
To love, to hate, to fear. A prison ferry,
It brings us nearer to the church's nave,
But only soul can lead to sanctuary.
The human heart is our servant and our master,
Which labors in building unbridled consuming fire.
The soul's embrace should always bind us faster -
Its sole employment is to guide us higher.
The human heart cares nothing for our needs.
The human soul is careful where it leads.
Adapted for a Middle Eastern feast at Brawl, July 5, 2008, from Burton's translation of 1001 Nights, and dedicated to the head cook, THL Sarra Bossard.
Weep for the partridges on plate and porringer;
Cry for the ruin of the stewmeats marinate.
Keen - as I keen - for loved, lost daughters of the grouse,
And omelettes round browning fowls congregate.
O fire my throbbing heart for finny friendly fishies,
Bedded on pitas stacked in piles to masticate.
For thee, O couscous tender! my very jaw doth ache!
Without thee ev'ry taste is clean annihilate.
Those eggs have rolled their yellow eyes in tort'rous fire
Ere served with spiced falafel hot, that tasty cate.
Praised be Allah! for His many bakes and roasts! How good
These pot-herbs steeped in oil with parsley combinate!
When hunger sated was, I elbow-propt fell back
On baklava wherein honey and filo mate.
Then woke I sleeping appetite to taste kave
And sweets from trays brocaded most elaborate.
Be patient, O my soul! For Time's exceeding slow;
And the feasting of today becomes tomorrow's woe.
It was my first competition (Cleftlands Standard Bearers, April 5, 2008), and the first time I'd performed in the SCA. I'd written my pieces (finishing the last one on the morning of the event). I performed them ... and the judges called for a tie-breaker. I had nothing else. I made this up more or less on the spot, although I'd played with some of the rhymes developing the other pieces.
There once was a lass from Brendoken -
Went to Gulf Wars without any token.
She seduced the troll quickly,
But her technique was sickly,
So he kicked her ass back to North Oaken.
First presented at the Cleftlands Standard Bearers feast, April 5, 2008. On the Virtue of Loyalty (assigned prior to the event). The Ohio Conspiracy referred to was theorized during a period when many Royals arose in North Oaken.
There once were three barons from Cleftlands,
Who saved us from being bereft bands:
The warp to our weft and
The right to our left and
They shaped our fair lands with their deft hands.
The service of the great Baron Laurelen -
An office for time immemor'al in -
Pelicannin' and knightin',
King twice by his fightin',
In Ohio he was Conspirator'alin'.
In the days of our Baron Ephraim -
As wise as an ancient rabbi-um -
He neglected his biz,
But he served with chariz,
And our battle song's created by 'im.
And the future's Edwardus Brackenburyus'.
Through glorious times may he ferry us!
Make our days not precarious,
Make our forces more scary-us,
And make all our battles victarious.
The Durr made an off-hand comment on the Middle Kingdom mailing list - "I've been collecting stories ... but none of that braggart stuff. That's for the bards". This reply was posted (February 24, 2010) within a half-hour.
Tis true, we bards can rend a manly soul
With tune so sweet or words so wholly vile
Men's courage fails, their tear-ducts lack control -
No mortal can their better selves beguile.
Or we can send a woman forth to seek
A tinker to repair a broken heart;
Or, if you choose, to make her knees grow weak
Imprison'd with the power of our art.
Tis passing strange then, do you think?
This magic's ne'er employed to win a flirt,
For finding that we're on the loving brink
We lose out to a man in chain-mail shirt.
The gentle rhythmic bleating of migration;
Semis hornéd, herding toward the ramp;
The engine-braking roar, the air horn shriek;
Recall the Serengeti nightly camp
Written for the Bardic Madness X, November 22, 2008, challenge "Triads". In one sense, it's not much of a poem, but would it be bragging to point out that ...? This a terza rima with a thrice-repeated ABA BCB CAC rhyme scheme, ending with a one-line coda rhyming A. It's three "cantos" of three verses of three lines. Each canto is a complete episode treating an emotional response (frustration, comfort, satisfaction) to the three components of songwriting (lyrics, melody, integration), and the three episodes together make a larger story. Yes, that would be bragging.
Canto I: Frustration
It's very hard to write a clever poem
That scans and rhymes - and makes the ladies swoon.
Sometimes you'd rather just Marcel Marceau 'em.
It's even worse, to write a period tune
When all your music studies went so wrong
And every squiggle seems a futharc rune.
And worst of all, to pair them in a song,
To fit the words in neatly, not just throw 'em,
Or cram them in or stretch them with a prong.
Canto II: Comfort
It's easier to rhyme words when you know 'em,
And not just use the ones from Rhymezone hewn,
And there are days when you can really flow 'em.
And writing tunes is easier when you croon
And warble - even voices not so strong
Come up with something more than a cartoon;
And then to find out somehow all along
You really aren't in a mental home:
That words and music fit and they belong.
Canto III: Satisfaction
It's most rewarding working through the gloam,
Or spending nights in some dim greasy spoon,
To craft some lines and on your friends bestow 'em;
And when your melody is opportune
It pays you back in earworms all day long.
In spite of all that racket, it's a boon!
And though you've no more cover than a thong,
You'll find you have some balls, or you will grow 'em,
And you come forth and sing it to the throng,
And when it's over crack a jereboam.
Honoring Edward "Fitz" fitzRanulf on his 2010 birthday (January 5). He is noted for his excellent mustards as well as his skills as an autocrat and feast steward. After Kipling's Gunga Din.
You may talk o' mustard seed
When your feast seat's guaranteed,
And your lists are cordened off with velvet ropin';
But when events are brewin'
Organizing's your undoing -
For the lists are no damn good if they're not open!
Now in Cleftlands murky clime,
Where I often spend me time
A-visitin' events as time permits,
Of the autocrattin' crew,
The best of the whole slew
Was our organizin' genius, Mustard Fitz!
And it was Fitz! Fitz! Fitz!
You scramblin' sheaf o' schedules, Mustard Fitz!
Though we've sometimes overlooked you,
We've still always overbooked you -
You're a Steward for the Ages, Mustard Fitz!