Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Leia Ascending


Maister Colyne Stewart, AS 53 (August 2018)
An elegy for a beloved dog, part of the family of Pasi and Jaclyn Paltanen.

All-father Odin     one-eyed watchman
Sings through sky-horn     shatters the calm night
Calls to him champions     curs of great valour
Hounds of honour     he would extoll
Claim to his company     captain his ghost-pack
Wolf-daughter wizened     wick low lit fading
Second-shadow     sky-bridge strider
Hound of honey-thieves’     hall, child-guard well
Lap-friend loyal     last duty now done
Comes to his hall     charges moon-ward
Emma earth-bound     eases her long-fate
Leia still listens     looking from high
Draugar and dvergar     dare not to enter
Bee-foe Bjarnscur     begotten watcher
Battles for bear-cub     bright star of night


Written in the style of the Ango-Saxon scops, using a variety of line types. The oral Old English versification tradition was brought to England from Germany by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century. It therefore shares many (if not all) characteristics with Old German versification.

The lines of verse (which were not recorded in written form until the 8th century[1]) were alliterative, of variable length, and divided by a caesura. The third stressed syllable in each line had to alliterate with either or both of the first two, while the fourth did not alliterate. All vowels and diphthongs alliterated with each other. Sc, sp and st usually only alliterated with themselves. The disposition of stressed syllables is the same as the Sievers’ types described in Old German versification.

Synonyms and compound words were widely used (likely to assist with alliteration). Kennings, though not common, were sometimes used. Sometimes the words used could have multiple meanings (though whether this was done on purpose is open to debate).[2] Variation (using multiple names for the same subject within the same lines) was also used and poets would often reuse lines or word patterns from earlier poems by other poets.

The version of the poem below has the alliterative letters bolded, with the stressed syllables in italics. Synonyms, variation and kennings are explained in footnotes.

All-father Odin[3]     one-eyed[4] watchman
Sings through sky-horn[5]     shatters the calm night
Calls to him champions     curs of great valour
Hounds of honour     he would extoll
Claim to his comp’ny     captain his ghost-pack[6]
Wolf-daughter[7] wizened     wick low lit fading[8]
Second-shadow[9]     sky-bridge strider[10]
Hound of honey-thieves[11]     hall[12], child-guard[13] well
Lap-friend[14] loyal     last duty now done
Comes to his call     charges moon-ward[15]
Emma earth-bound     eases her long-fate[16]
Leia still listens     looking from high
Draugar[17] and dvergar[18]     dare not to enter[19]
Bee-foe Bjarnscur[20]     begotten watcher
Battles for bear-cub     bright star of night[21]



[1] Dance, Richard. “The Old English Language and the Alliteative Tradition.” A Companion to Medieval Poetry. Saunders, Corrine, ed. Wiley-Blackwell: West Sussex, 2010. p. 35.
[2] Ibid: p. 47.
[3] Odin, father of the gods.
[4] Odin had only one eye.
[5] Odin sounds his great horn.
[6] Odin calls to him dogs of worthy character.
[7] Dogs are descendants of wolves.
[8] A reference to Leai’s long life.
[9] Like many dogs, Leia enjoyed following her humans about. In particular, she spent a great deal of time with baby Emma, Pasi and Jaclyn’s young daughter,
[10] Suggesting Leia will answer Odin’s call and has crossed the rainbow bridge to enter Valhalla, the Norse afterlife.
[11] A kenning for a bear.
[12] Pasi and Jaclyn refer to their home as Bearhall.
[13] Leia was sometimes referred to as Emma’s nanny.
[14] Dog.
[15] Leia answered Odin’s call.
[16] Emma’s life will be easier for Leai having been in it.
[17] Scandinavian zombies.
[18] Scandinavian dwarves.
[19] Boogeymen dare not even enter Emma’s room.
[20] Leia was a Karelian beardog. The bee-foe is a name for a bear. Bjarn is Pasi’s name in the SCA, so Bjarnscur means Bjarn’s dog.
[21] Leia still watches over Emma.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tristhamsaga

By Maister Colyne Stewart, April AS 52 (2018)

In memory
Of man’s deeds
Stand these word marks writ by Colyne
In memory
Of March day
When Tristham came with Þórr’s blessing

I say the tale
To troll-fellers
Eagle-feeders fane listen well
Of Vendel
Victorious
Fired-handed ferocious drottin

I say this second
As deed worthy of saga
Odin approved of him that day
Slayer of Steinarr
Serpent of flame
Styrbjörn’s son scion Tyr’s get

Tristham saw Steinarr standing war-ready
He drew his Hel-fang and danced on spread cloak
Felt Logi’s fire flame of Glöð’s blood
Sword held to heaven swore to strike true

Wound-fire flashing down fell to feed
Hit hard like giant on Heðinn’s token
Gave harm of forest of flame a crown
Helm made of fire the maker of ash


At the Tournament of Renown held on April 7, 2018, THL Tristham Ovinra I Groffa fought a bout with Count Steinarr Aggarson. He hit the Count a blow that drove his Excellency’s metal cammaille into his helmet and caused a burst of flame to appear. This incident was caught on camera but I thought it should also be immortalized in verse.

This poem is based on the inscription on the Rök Runestone of Sweden. The stone was carved around 800 CE by a man named Varinn. In the 19th century it was discovered inside the wall of a church in Rök (located between Mjölby and Ödeshög), in Östergötland, Sweden. The stone is considered to be the first piece of written Swedish literature.

At the end of those text I have included one translation of the stone’s inscription. Though most researchers agree on the deciphered text there is conjecture about their interpretation. The first part is written in ljóðaháttr meter, and the part about Theoderic (Þjóðríkr) is written in the fornyrðislag meter. (Both are Eddic meters.) I decided to follow the stone’s structure and wrote three stanzas in ljóðaháttr and then two in fornyrðislag.

ljóðaháttr : six lines (two units of three lines). The first two lines in each unit have at least 2 syllables each and alliterate with each other. The third lines are in fornyrðislag and have at least three syllables and alliterate with themselves. All vowels alliterate with each other and the letter j.

fornyrðislag : two half-lines linked by alliteration. Alliteration on first or second stressed syllable in first half-line and on the first stressed syllable of the second half-line. There are six variations of half-lines (based on placement of stressed and unstressed syllables). A poem completely written in fornyrðislag would consist of four line stanzas with half lines of four or five syllables (with two of the syllables stressed).

A copy of the poem with footnotes and the alliteration and caesuras marked follows:


In memory
Of man’s deeds
Stand these word marks / writ by Colyne
In memory
Of March day
When Tristham came / with Þórr[1]’s blessing

I say the tale
To troll-fellers[2]
Eagle-feeders[3] / fane listen well
Of Vendel[4]
Victorious
Fired-handed / Ferocious drottin[5]

I say this second
As deed worthy of saga
Odin approved / of him that day
Slayer of Steinarr
Serpent of flame
Styrbjörn[6]’s son / Scion Tyr[7]’s get

Tristham saw Steinarr / standing war-ready
He drew his Hel[8]-fang / and danced on spread cloak[9]
Felt Logi[10]’s fire / flame of Glöð[11]’s blood
Sword held to heaven / Swore to strike true

Wound-fire[12] flashing / down fell to feed
Hit hard like giant / on Heðinn’s token[13]
Gave harm of forest[14] / of flame a crown
Helm made of fire / the maker of ash


[1] Thor, god of--among other things--lightening.

[2] Warriors.

[3] Also warriors.

[4] The Vendels were pre-Viking Swedes.

[5] Early Swedish title.

[6] Styrbörn the Strong (d. 985), son of a Swedish king, and portrayed as very strong (though occasionally too violent).

[7] God of heroic glory.

[8] A goddess of death.

[9] Reference to the holmgang, a duel often fought on top of a spread cloak.

[10] A fire jotunn god, personification of fire.

[11] Logi’s wife, also a fire jotunn and a goddess.

[12] A kenning for sword from Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Lausavísur 3’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 333.

[13] A kenning for helmet, from Hubert Seelow (ed.) 2017, ‘Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka 9 (Marmennill, Lausavísur 4)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 312.

[14] A kenning for fire, from Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Bjǫrn krepphendi, Magnússdrápa 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 398-9.


This is the translation of the original text:


In memory of Vémóðr/Vámóðr stand these runes.
And Varinn coloured them, the father,
in memory of his dead son.

I say the folktale / to the young men, which the two war-booties were, which twelve times were taken as war-booty, both together from various men.

I say this second, who nine generations ago lost his life with the Hreidgoths; and died with them for his guilt.

Þjóðríkr the bold,
chief of sea-warriors,
ruled over the shores of the Hreiðsea.
Now he sits armed
on his Goth(ic horse),
his shield strapped,
the prince of the Mærings.

I say this the twelfth, where the horse of Gunnr sees fodder on the battlefield, where twenty kings lie.

This I say as thirteenth, which twenty kings sat on Sjólund for four winters, of four names, born of four brothers: five Valkis, sons of Hráðulfr, five Hreiðulfrs, sons of Rugulfr, five Háisl, sons of Hôrðr, five Gunnmundrs/Kynmundrs, sons of Bjôrn.

Now I say the tales in full. Someone ...

I say the folktale / to the young men, which of the line of Ingold was repaid by a wife's sacrifice.

I say the folktale / to the young men, to whom is born a relative, to a valiant man. It is Vélinn. He could crush a giant. It is Vélinn ... [Nit]

I say the folktale / to the young men: Þórr. Sibbi of Vé, nonagenarian, begot (a son).




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Maiwen


For Maiwen Skrautibroka upon being placed on vigil for the Order of the Laurel
By Maister Colyne Stewart, March AS 53 (2018)

Lo, praise we power / of people-kings
Of spear-armed Danes / in days long sped
Yet power shows / in strength of word
And bone-led cord / and battened cloth
Oft Maiwen worked / as Welanduz
Her anvil lace / her ‘ammer thread
Each stitch a blow / each bolt an ingot
Her smithy adorned / with swords of horn
With rippers of cloth / and coveted
Pins, spools and bob/bins, scissors, shears
Of Frijjō fond / her fashion fierce
As Skrautibrok/a she’s known
 Her trews a treas/ure telling much
Now Kyng and Cwene / she comes before
So hailed as Hlaef/dige her now call
Of famed Maiwen / far flies her boast
A scion of Val / in Scadian lands

This poem is written in the Old English style to match Maiwen’s original 7th century Anglo-Saxon persona. Anglo-Saxon versification were written in what are known as Siever’s Types, with different types of lines based on where the stressed and unstressed syllables lied. For this poem I used what is called the B-line, which contains four syllables, with the stress on the second and fourth syllables. Each line in the poem is divided by a caesura (a pause, denoted by a slash). The poems were alliterative, with the third stress alliterating with the first and/or second stresses. (All vowels and dipthongs alliterated.) These poems made common use of synonyms, compound words, variation (referring to the same thing by different names) and, to a lesser degree, kennings. Sometimes Anglo-Saxon poets would “borrow” word patterns or even whole lines from other poets, so I have quoted and paraphrased Beowulf in the opening and closing lines.

A foot-noted version of the poem is below with the alliteration marked in bold.

Lo, praise we power / of people-kings
Of spear-armed Danes / in days long sped[1]
Yet power shows / in strength of word
And bone-led[2] cord / and battened cloth
Oft Maiwen worked / as Welanduz[3]
Her anvil lace / her ‘ammer thread
Each stitch a blow / each bolt an ingot
Her smithy adorned / with swords of horn[4]
With rippers of cloth / and coveted
Pins, spools and bob/bins, scissors, shears
Of Frijjō[5] fond / her fashion fierce
As Skrautibrok/a she’s known
 Her trews a treas/ure[6] telling much
Now Kyng and Cwene / she comes before[7]
So hailed as Hlaef/dige[8] her now call
Of famed Maiwen / far flies her boast
A scion of Val[9] / in Scadian lands[10]



[1] These two lines are translations of lines 1 and 2 of Beowolf.
[2] A needle.
[3] A mythical smith.
[4] More needles.
[5] Goddess of love who was also associated with weaving.
[6] Maiwen’s byname of Skrautibroka literally means “fancy pants”
[7] Maiwen is to elevated to the Order of the Laurel at Kingdom A&S AS 53 (March 2018).
[8] An Anglo-Saxon title used in the SCA to refer to (among other things) a Mistress of the Order of the Laurel.
[9] Maiwen is a protégé of Master Valizan.
[10] The last two lines are edited translations of lines 18 and 19 of Beowolf: “Famed was this Beowulf: far flew the boast of him / son of Scyld, in the Scandian lands.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Gazel for Shahid al-Hasan


By Maister Colyne Stewart, March AS 53 (2018)

Forth came the proud hare from a desert of snow
In fame and good fortune his legend to grow
Bound to a wolf-prince by cords woven bright red
Fierce as the badger and as fleet as the doe
With pole he commanded in far off An Tir
As vassal to baron he forded war’s flow
Now pearl-rich himself he holds land of the north
Stood peik for the queen for her honour to show
Adorned with the crescent called forward to kneel
His boots tread the flagstones, he dropped to his toe
As Sultan proclaimed him his might and his worth
And told all assembled what honour he’d owe
A faris, he called him, a lord of the horse
And girt him with leather, the white of the snow.


Background Information

According to Bachvarova, a gazel was an improvised song based on earlier works with a singer using an existing quatrain as a basis for their improvisation. Though other cultures (such as the Greeks) used the term interchangeably for lament poetry (the amané or amanés sometimes also being called gazel), to the Ottomans the form was used to explore love (both romantic and spiritual). Gazels were sometimes improvised during long, highly structured songs that would display the singer’s knowledge of the makamlar (or modes of Ottoman music).

According to Bradley, gazels (or qazels) in Iran featured a rhyming couplet, followed by couplets whose first line was unrhymed, and whose second line rhymed with those of the first couplet. There were at least seven couplets. Each couplet usually put forth separate images that were unified by the idea expressed in the first couplet.

The gazels I looked at from the sixteenth century (though translated into English) seemed to follow the rhyme scheme laid out by Bradley, though they claimed to be from the Ottoman Empire and not Iran. It is possible that the quatrains the poets used in my examples just happened to rhyme AABA though I cannot corroborate that at this time.

Three examples of gazel are below (all from Horne):

My pain for thee balm in my sight resembles
Thy face's beam the clear moonlight resembles.
Thy black hair spread across they cheeks, the roses
O Liege, the garden's basil quite resembles.
Beside thy lip oped wide its mouth, the rosebud;
For shame it blushed, it blood outright resembles.
Thy mouth, a casket fair of pearls and rubies,
Thy teeth, pearls, thy lip coral bright resembles.
Their diver I, each morning and each even;
My weeping, Liege, the ocean's might resembles.
Lest he seduce thee, this my dread and terror,
That rival who Iblis in spite resembles.
Around the taper bright, thy cheek, Muhibbi
Turns and the moth in his sad plight resembles.
 ---Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566)

If 'tis state thou seekest like the world-adorning sun's array,
Lowly e'en as water rub thy face in earth's dust every day.
Fair to see, but short enduring is this picture bright, the world;
'Tis a proverb: Fleeting like the realm of dreams is earth's display.
Through the needle of its eyelash never hath the heart's thread past;
Like unto the Lord Messiah bide I half-road on the way.
Athlete of the Universe through self-reliance grows the Heart,
With the ball, the Sphere---Time, Fortune---like an apple doth it play.
Mukhlisi, thy frame was formed from but one drop, yet, wonder great!
When thou verses sing'st, thy spirit like the ocean swells, they say.
 ---Prince Mustafa (1515-1553)

Ta'en my sense and soul have those thy Leyli locks, thy glance's spell,
Me, their Mejnun, 'midst of love's wild dreary desert they impel,
Since mine eyes have seen the beauty of the Joseph of thy grace,
Sense and heart have fall'n and lingered in thy chin's sweet dimple-well.
Heart and soul of mine are broken through my passion for thy lips;
From the hand of patience struck they honor's glass, to earth
The mirage, thy lips, O sweetheart, that doth like to water show;
For, through longing, making thirsty, vainly they my life dispel.
Since Selimi hath the pearls, thy teeth, been praising, sense and heart
Have his head and soul abandoned, plunging 'neath love's ocean-swell.
---Sultan Selim II (r. 1566-1574).

As you can see, some of these gazels have less than seven couplets, which would seem to contradict Bradley. The first gazel has lines of 11 beats, while the following two both have lines of 15. You will notice that in the first example each A line ends with the same word, not just a rhyme.

I have, so far, not been able to find much information on the form, and it would appear that what little information exists is not consistent. I therefore decided to base my poem off of Bradley’s description (since it seemed to fit my exemplars best) and use lines of 11 beats.

Below is a footnoted version of the poem:

Forth came the proud hare[1] from a desert of snow[2]
In fame and good fortune his legend to grow
Bound to wolf-prince[3] by blood-cords woven bright red[4]
Fierce as the badger and as fleet as the doe
With pole he commanded in far off An Tir[5]
As vassal to baron[6] he forded war’s flow
Now pearl-rich[7] himself he holds land of the north
Stood peik[8] for the queen for her honour to show
Adorned with the crescent[9] called forward to kneel
His boots tread the flagstones, he dropped to his toe
As Sultan proclaimed him his might and his worth
And told all assembled what honour he’d owe
A faris[10], he called him, a lord of the horse
And girt him with leather, the white of the snow[11].

Sources

Anon. “Ottoman Turks Poetry.” Ottoman Souvenir. http://www.ottomansouvenir.com/General/Turkish_Poetry.htm Accessed online on March 6, 2018.

Bachvarova, Mary R., Dorota Dutsch and Ann Suter, eds. The Fall of Cities in the Mediterranean: Commemoration in Literature, Folk-song and Liturgy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. pp. 258-259.

Bradley, D. L. Farsi for English Speakers. United States: Lulu.com, 2014. pp. 242-243.

Horne, Charles F. ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia. New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917.  pp. 259-325. Available online at https://archive.org/details/sacredbooksearly06hornuoft

Parfatt, David. Turkish Makamlar. http://oudipedia.info/makamlar.html Accessed online on March 6, 2018.



[1] Shahid is from the Barony of Skraeling Althing, which is symbolized by the hare.
[2] I tried to call up images of where Shahid’s persona would have dwelled by comparing the snow of Ontario to a desert.
[3] His Highness Baldric Leeman of NewCastle Emlyn
[4] Shahid’s squire’s belt.
[5] Shahid was once polearm commander for the Tree House Armoured Combat unit in An Tir.
[6] Shahid was once man-at-arms to HE Ming Lum Pee of An Tir.
[7] Shahid is now a baron himself (Baron of Skraeling Althing). This is a reference to the pearls on his coronet.
[8] A member of Suleiman the Magnificent’ halberdier bodyguards, referencing the fact that Shahid once stood as huscarl to Queen Rylan.
[9] Shahid’s heraldry contains three crescents.
[10] Meaning horseman in Arabic, a title used in the SCA to refer to knights with Arabic personas.
[11] At Winter War AS 53, Shahid was put on vigil for the Order of the Chivalry.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Elegy for Gilchrist, Lord of Dogs

Maister Colyne Stewart, October AS 52 (2017)

Oh, lean of leg, the gallant canine stands
His hazel eyes regard ducal estate
The grand demesne of sky, and lake, and land,
Belov’d by all, and yet life cannot wait,
A call to pass beyond mere mortal gate,
He gentle licks soft hands with kindly sigh,
Lo, unafraid he goes to meet his fate,
And now the stars fair twinkle, like his eye.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Blóðhrafn: For Duchess Dagmar halvdan on her Elevation to the Order of the Pelican

By Maister Colyne Stewart, August AS 52 (2017)

Dagmar halvdan | Daughter of ravens
Walker of valleys | Vildar’s favoured
Yggdrasil trav’ler | dew treading wolf
Giver of rings | golden of name

Hertogakona | kin of high fame
Skalds sing her name | Sif, Sól, both love her
Garðhús chron’cler | Chosen of dyrgja
Lover of lanterns | Layer of lines

A sea of wounds | has stained Fjörgyn
Hrafn-fed ulfvins | elevate towns
Verǫld-folk heed me | Her name exalt
Raven-wine giver | Pelican víf



Written in fornyrðislag (pronounced fort-near-this-lagh; “meter of ancient words”), an Eddic verse form consisting of a 4-line stanza, each line divided by a caesura into two half-lines, which in turn have two accented syllables and two or three unaccented ones. There are six variations of half-lines that could be used. The two half-lines are linked together by alliteration, which in case of the first line could fall on one or the other of the stressed syllables, but in the second half-line had to fall on the first stressed syllables. The alliteration of the first half-line was called stuðlar (props), the one in the second half-line höfuðstafr (head-stave). The alliteration is actually an initial rhyme consisting of consonants alliterating with the same consonants, except sk, sp and st, which could be alliterated with themselves, and of a vowel alliterating with any other vowel, as well as with j.

A footnoted version of the poem follows, with alliteration bolded and stressed syllables shown in italics.

Dagmar halvdan | Daughter of ravens[1]
Walker of valleys[2] | Vildar’s favoured[3]
Yggdrasil trav’ler[4] | dew treading[5] wolf[6]
Giver of rings[7] | golden of name

Hertogakona[8] | kin of high fame[9]
Skalds sing her name | Sif[10], Sól[11], both love her
Garðhús[12] chron’cler[13] | Chosen of dyrgja[14]
Lover of lanterns[15] | Layer of lines[16]

A sea of wounds[17] | has stained Fjörgyn[18]
Hrafn-fed[19] ulfvins[20] | elevate towns[21]
Verǫld[22]-folk heed me | Her name exalt
Raven-wine giver | Pelican víf[23]




[1] Dagmar is a member of House Galbraith, whose charge is the raven.
[2] She is well known for her love of hiking.
[3] Vildar is the Norse god of the forst.
[4] Yggdrasil was the world-tree, and her symbolizes how Dagmr travels all over the knowne world.
[5] Hike start early, you know. She also rises early when working at Pennsic.
[6] Dagmar is Ealdormerean and therefore a wolf.
[7] Dagmar is known for her generosity.
[8] A Norwegian equivalent for the title Duchess.
[9] Many members of House Galbraith are Peers of one sort or another.
[10] Goddess of the harvest.
[11] Goddess of the sun.
[12] Old Norse for ‘yard house’ or an outhouse. https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/06/unexpected-viking-toilet-discovery-leads-to-controversy/
[13] Leading up to Pennsic 2017, Dagmar posted photos as port-a-potties appeared on sire as if they were part of a nature documentaring.
[14] A female dwarf. Dwarves were known for their skill at building. Dagmar helps build up not just Pennsic but the Society as a whole.
[15] Dagmar is up early and goes to bed late. Lanterns are a necessity. In fact, her Pelican scroll was incorporated into a stained glass lantern.
[16] One of the tasks Dagmar takes on at Pennsic is marking out camp sites.
[17] A kenning for blood.
[18] Another name for Jörð, goddess of the earth. Dagmar has blistered her hands and feet while working at Pennsic, feeding the soil with her blood.
[19] Hrafn is Old Norse for raven. Dagmar is the raven feeding the earth. On her Peerage coat the Pelicans have been fused with ravens.
[20] “wolf-wine”, a keening for blood.
[21] It is partly through her work that Pennsic War occurs.
[22] Old Norse for “world”.
[23] Old Norse for “woman”.