Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Solstice

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, December AS 50 (2015)

House bound hearth-herds[1]    huddled by Surt[2]-breath
To Jólner[3] turn they                 julblotet[4] offer
Asking for favour                   for Fenris[5] still captive
And Vetr[6] fallen                     Vanquished by Sumarr[7]

Written in málaháttr, an Eddic measure closely related to fornyrðislag. Each line of the 4-line stanza was divided into two half-lines by a caesura. The half-lines had two accented and three or four unaccented syllables. 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.

[1] Referring to the people and animals crowded together inside to share their warmth.
[2] Surt (or Surtr) is a Norse fire giant, thus this is a kenning for a fire.
[3] The god of Jul and one of the guises of Odin.
[4] A sacrifice.
[5] When the great wolf was freed, it was though he would bring about Ragnarok—the end of the world.
[6] Personification of Winter.
[7] Personification of Summer.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Of the Worthies[1], She is One

For Magistra Nicolaa de Bracton.

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, December AS 50 (2015)

A mission have I set out on, to speak for Sangus[2] doth my pen,
And once writ down my mind you’ll ken, as praise I give like light at dawn.

A student of Egeria[3], who studies well the books and scrolls,
And tends to intellectual souls, in her garden of Miverva[4],
The magistra, by candle light, is held in awe by ancient words,
Her thoughts on wing like Clio’s[5] birds, and now inspired so she writes.

For many years she toiled hard, and many tomes made by her hand,
And freely shared across the land, and so inspired I the bard,
To sing of her and all her deeds, of she who wears a laurel wreath[6],
And yet who studies still beneath the statue of the nymph and seeds[7].

Of Nic’laa have I spoken of, mentor and friend and peer well famed,
And like Apollo[8] be she named, and may the Wolf keep her in love[9].

As Magistra Nicolaa is a twelfth century Anglo-Norman, I decided to write a poem about her as a grand chant. The gran(d) chan(t), also known as the courtois, was an Old French genre of lyric poetry devised by the trouvères in the 12th to 13th centuries. It was adapted from the Occitan canso of the troubadours. Like the canso it often explored courtly love, but it could also be used to expound on many other topics or themes.

Typically, a canso (and thus a grand chant) had three parts: the exordium (the first stanza where the composer explains his purpose), the main body of the text and then one to three envois (which were not always present). Except for the envois, the stanzas all have the same sequence of verses (each verse has the same number of metrical syllables). The envois took the form of a shortened stanza, containing only a last part of the standard stanza used up to that point.

Each stanza has the same internal rhyme scheme (so if the first line rhymes with the third line in the first stanza, it will do so in each successive one). I choose to do two quatrains for my verses, each using cross-rhyme where the last word in a line rhymes with the middle word in the adjacent line. For instance, in my exordium the word ‘on’ in the middle of the first line rhymes with ‘dawn’ (the last word in the second line), while the last word in the first line (‘pen’) rhymes with the middle word of the second line (‘ken’).

[1] A reference to the Nine Worthies. In the late medieval and early Renaissance periods, there were nine individuals that were thought to represent the ideals of chivalry (as it was then understood). These worthies would be depicted in art and invoked in literature. Three of the worthies were pagans (Hector, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar), three were Jews (Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus), and three were Christians (King Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouilon).
[2] Roman god of honesty.
[3] A Roman nymph who was a goddess of wisdom and prophecy.
[4] Roman goddess of wisdom.
[5] Clio is the muse of history.
[6] Magistra Nicolaa is a member of the Order of the Laurel.
[7] A reference to Egeria, who lives in a garden.
[8] Greco-Roman god of knowledge and intellect.
[9] A request that Ealdormere keep Nicolaa in its heart.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Journeying Song

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, AS 50 (2015)

Row the oars or spur the horse,
Maps or stars to chart the course,

Across the land we pilgrims go
Along the laneways to and fro
Our progress made we stop to eat
To feast on grain and wine and meat

To distant kingdoms sally forth
So boldly wolf-folk of the north
To deeds take part in other lands
And show the strength of northern hands

Row the oars or spur the horse,
Maps or stars to chart the course,

Oh, knights and squires, artisans,
Go travel to expand your clans
For there is more to see and do
Than only what is close to you

Row the oars or spur the horse,
Maps or stars to chart the course,

The Stag and Lion, Tiger bright,
The Griffon, Falcon taking flight,
Our Dragon-mother, wolf you know,
So make more friends where e’er you go

Row the oars or spur the horse,
Maps or stars to chart the course,

Row the oars or spur the horse,
Maps or stars to chart the course,

Written as a videra—a lyric genre of the Catalan and Occitan troubadours. They were dance songs designed to lighten the mood during a long voyage or journey. They were not often written by cultivated poets as the genre was considered low-brow. Also known as  viadeyra and viandla.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ealdormere’s First Master of Defense

For Baron Giovanni de Enzinas

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, December AS 50 (2015)

In northern lands the swords were drawn
And scholars faced epee and foil
‘Til one impressed the sitting royal
Was told to face the coming dawn
In northern lands the swords were drawn

About his neck white collar’s clasped
To mark him as entitled peer
The first, like him, of Ealdormere
While in his hand a sword is grasped
About his neck white collar’s clasped

A man of metal and of art
Who studies words of written worth
And teaches with both joy and mirth
He who has a generous heart
A man of metal and of art

In northern lands the swords were drawn
And scholars faced epee and foil
‘Til one impressed the sitting royal
Was told to face the coming dawn
In northern lands the swords were drawn

A ballata. This poetic and musical form was in use from the late 13th to the 15th century in Italy. It was one of the most prominent secular musical forms at the time.

Its rhyme scheme is usually AbbaA, with the first and last stanzas having the same text. It is similar to the French virelai (not the ballade, as the name would suggest). The first and last A are called aripresa, the b lines are piedi (feet), and the fourth line is a volta. Longer ballate (the plural of ballata) may be found with different rhyme schemes such as AbbaAbbaA. The two b lines usually have exactly the same music, though eventually they would have an open and close ending.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Hart’s Tale

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, October AS 50 (2015)

To my belt-sister, Wencenedl of Rokesburg, the first Arrochar apprentice to be invited to join the Order of the Laurel.

At Emprise gathered hushed host
To listen to the heralds’ toast
As king and baron took their seat
And called the Laurels forth to greet
A hart who wore the ermine star
A student come so very far
“Our Cenedl,” the king decreed
“You will from contract now be freed
At future date, once all agreed.”
And smiled on her where she kneed.

She went then from that honoured place
Accompanied by Kerrec Grace
And heard proclaim the gathered crowd
Who shouted forth their joy so loud.
Until at last the day came ‘round
To hear what answer she had found
Again she came to royal ground
Before the northern monarchs crowned.

“Our lands are lacking”, cried the queen,
Before those gathered on the green,
“We must amend this tragic flaw
And so we read this writ as law
And call on Cenedl the doe
Well known to all for skills she shows
With needle, thread and fabric bright
Compel us to take pen and write,
Induct her into order fair,
The dragonfly with braided hair
And be a Laurel of our lands.
So take now from the royal hands
Our document that states thereof
How rich you are in regal love.”

She takes the writ from royal glove
And so my sister soars above.

Written in the style of a Breton lai. Lais (or lays), popular in both French and English literature, were short rhymed tales of love and chivalry usually numbering between 600 and 1000 lines. They often involve motifs from the supernatural and Celtic mythology. Arthurian tales were popular. The earliest Breton lais known were by Marie de France and were written in the 1170s.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Tudor Ivy

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, September 2015 (AS 50)

Dedicated to Lady Jane of Greenhill (whose real first name is Ivy)
Based on an anonymous Tudor-era poem called ‘The Tudor Rose’

I love the ivy that grows green
And so transforms a wicker screen
Into a beauteous summer scene.
Joyed may we be,
For her to see,
How loved she be!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

For Helen Grey

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

Amid the rustling banners bold
A tale is told of Korigan
Who fears no one, the wolf red-black,
Who from her pack will never stray.
For Helen Grey she stood the field
With sword and shield, and heavy axe,
To make me wax on honour bought
With how she fought for Helen Grey.

On August 29, 2015, at the Emprise of the Ermine Star, I fought Lord Korigan in a deed of arms. Part of the rules of the list were that if any part of a fighter other than their foot were to touch the ground, they owed a ransom to their opponent. I fell to the ground, and for my ransom Korigan tasked me to write a poem for her wife, Helen Grey.

Written using the aicill rhyme scheme where the final word of one line rhymes with an internal word in the next rhyme.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Her Excellency Ysemay

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, AS 50 (2015)

For Mistress Ysemay Sterling, who was made a Baroness of the Court at Pennsic 2015

A crown upon a noble brow
Bestowed before assembled crowd
To show the worth of one so dear
Oh Ysemay, of eternal cheer,
In glory bright, with honour filled,

Rewarded as the Royals willed.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

For Baroness Eleanor von Atzinger upon being named a Vigilant of the Order of the Pelican

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, August AS 50 (2015)

In service she’s known for her toil,
In name of both low-born and royal;
To Crown both loving and loyal;
So El,nor is called with a cheer.

At king’s word she bends down to kneel,
Astonished that this could be real,
And great ones bring treasure to heel,
So El’nor is draped with new gear.

They speak of her virtues with pride,
As of her great deeds they confide,
All true words that can’t be denied,
So El’nor’s proclaimed far and near.

The Queen now she bids her to stand,
And raises her up with her hand,
To show her to all in the land,
And El’nor stands proudly as Peer.

Written as a zéjel, a Spanish form likely originally Arabic in origin. I used the most common four verse form (rhyming aaab, cccb, dddb, eeeb) and the most common kind of line (octosyllabic). 

The Wolf Pack Came South

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, August AS 50 (2015)

The wolf pack came south from the northlands,
The wolf pack came down for the king,
The wolf pack came down from the northlands,
They came down their axes to swing.

The band of ten men went out onto the field,
To meet all in combat, Queen’s honour they’d wield,
The brave band of ten fought and bled in the fray,
In all but one battle they carried the day.

The wolf pack came south from the northlands,
The wolf pack came down for the king,
The wolf pack came down from the northlands,
They came down their axes to swing.

The sky rippled scarlet, the warriors sang,
As swords upon shields in glad victory rang,
Our Monarchs stand tall, raised up high by the throng,
And let the world know that the wolves won in song.

The wolf pack came south from the northlands,
The wolf pack came down for the king,
The wolf pack came down from the northlands,
They came down their axes to swing.

The wolf pack came south from the northlands,
The wolf pack came down for the king,
The wolf pack came down from the northlands,
They came down their axes to swing.

At Pennsic War 2015, Ealdormere’s Unbelted team won the ten-man tournament for the first time.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Guarding the Hearth

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, July AS 50 (2015

I cannot hear the sounds of drums
That drive my kin down south
I do not see the pennants fly
On wind of dragon’s mouth
I do not feel the heady thrums
Of nerves in battle’s thrall
I do not taste the dusty sky
That blows throughout it all
I do not smell exotic scents
Or smoke of open fires
I do not, for I have not gone
Down with my fellow squires
And yet I do, I feel, I sense,
I dance the Pennsic score
For sure as sun comes with the dawn
My spirit is at War.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Napping War Point

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, July AS 50 (2015)

Oh for my Queen I lay my head
Upon a pillow in my bed
As though this year I am not there
At Pennsic in the summer air
At Queen’s command I doze and nap
With sleeping dog’s head in my lap
Across the land we slumber all
For to our Queen we are in thrall
At royal word we go to sleep
Swift into dreams so strange and deep
I do my part for kingdom fair
All while I clutch my Septy bear

During Peace Week of Pennsic War 2015, Queen Liðr decreed that the Tuesday was Royal Ealdormere Nap Day. This decree was shared via Facebook, where I asked if we were trying to win a war point for napping. Which led to this.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Roland of Atlantia

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, July AS 50 (2015)

Who is this man of whom I must sing praise?
His name is Roland, fearless, lord of frays.

His tale begins in past and bygone days
And when he wend his way from Triton’s maze
Out of the sea he came all scaled in maille
With piercing eyes and arms so mighty hale
A warrior in blue and golden cote
He climbed aboard a rocking northbound boat

Who is this man of whom I must sing praise?
His name is Roland, fearless, lord of frays.

To seek the calling song of his heart’s lays
He bravely traveled many, many days
He left Atlantia to come far north
In wolfen lands he boldly journeyed forth
And met his love in ancient royal town
And with her went to war to win renown

Who is this man of whom I must sing praise?
His name is Roland, fearless, lord of frays.

In the light of midnight’s tempestuous blaze
He found himself the aim of noble praise
An ursine Duchess of the cliffs and glen
Him asked to stand amongst her loyal men
And fight as her high thorn at the bell’s knell
A task accomplished oh so very well.

Who is this man of whom I must sing praise?
His name is Roland, fearless, lord of frays.

At War of the Trillium 2015, House Arrochar was joined by two guests: Ersabet (from Toronto) and her boyfriend Roland, who hailed from Atlantia. While at the event, Duchess Adrielle Kerrec asked Roland to be part of her team at the Rose Tourney where he fought very well.

This poem is written as a danseta, which is a dansa without a vuelta (a vuelta being the repetition of lines from the first stanza in the subsequent stanzas). Also spelt dança, the dansa was an Old Occitan form of lyric poetry developed by the troubadours in the 13th century. As the name would suggest, it was often accompanied by dancing. The balada is a related form with a more complex structure.

A dansa begins with a respos of one or two lines with a rhyme scheme that matches that of the first line or two of each following stanza. The respos itself may be repeated between stanzas as a refrain. There were usually three stanzas. The verses of a dansa were sung by a soloist with a choir singing the refrain.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Arrochar Strikes

Arrochar Strikes
By THLaird Colyne Stewart, July AS 50 (2015)

At Trillium War the sinners gathered
As clerics set the field with painted pins
To make the penitent repent their sins
The contrite pilgrim must then take a ball
And from safe distance roll it ‘cross the grass
Then in the outcome they must prove their class
And fight one knight per pin that did not fall.

So teams of three were sent to do the deed
And Arrochar took up the worthy call
And stood on field, waiting their turn with ball,
When Berend, gentle Master of the Laurel,
Awed all with glorious shoots of superb skill
As more than once he sent the ball to kill
And sent all pins to lie in repose floral.

Sir Nigel told him then to stand aside
And let his brothers take their turns to throw
So Kol and Colyne then their skill did show
And knocked pin after pin unto the ground
Though not as well as Berend did they tried
Rejoiced when many so thus truly died
Then went to face the knights upon the mound.

So well three battles then the squires fought
In singles first they faced a Master pink
Much blood was spilt for greedy grass to drink
Then three on three they faced a hardy group
Defeated two before the battle’s end
And finally beat a polearm’s deadly friend
To prove their worthy valour as a troupe.

With skill of arm at boules and with the blade
The house of Arrochar purged forth their sins
And the holy clerics tallied up their wins
In honour of their knight and of his love
The ermine and the star won well the day
By dropping pins and fighting in the fray
And in good brotherhood they won thereof.

And so to Nigel do we therefore praise
For teaching well his men the warrior’s ways
May much more honour come in future days.

At War of the Trillium 2015, there was a Bowling Knights tournament based on a period event where people would roll a ball at pins representing their skins. They were pardoned for each sin they knocked down, and then could pay to be forgiven for any remaining sins. In the Bowling Knights tourney, each of the pins was represented by a knight or master-of-arms. So, when a team took a turn to bowl, they had to fight any members of the chivalry whose pin was still standing. There were six pins, and five frames. Each pin knocked down, and each member of the Chivalry defeated, were worth one point.

Team Arrochar was one of six or seven teams to take part, and was represented by Baron Berend van der Eych, Baron Kolbjorn Skatkaupandi and THL Colyne Stewart. In the first frame, Berend bowled a strike. He repeated this in the second. At this point he was told by his knight, Sir Nigel, not to throw the third. Instead, Kol bowled the third frame and knocked down all the pins except for Duchess Kaylah’s. Arrochar offered her single combat and defeated her. In the fourth frame, Colyne knocked down three pins so it was a three on three fight. Arrochar managed to take out two of the knights before being defeated by the third. Berend was then allowed to bowl again for the last frame. He got another strike, but as it was the last frame he was allowed another ball. This time he knocked down five pins, and Arrochar faced Sir Tiberius. As Tiberius brought out a polearm, single combat was not offered. Arrochar swarmed Tiberius and won the field.

This meant that Arrochar missed out on only one point, and scored 35 out of a possible 36 to win the tourney (due largely to Berend’s skill at bowling).

This poem was written as a canzone, which was an Italian or Provençal song or ballad, or a type of lyric resembling a madrigal, originating during the 13th century. Derived from the Provençal canso, the canzone consisted of five to seven stanzas with each stanza being between seven to twenty lines. It ends with a tornado, the Provençal version of the envoi (a shortened stanza used as a sort of epilogue).

Monday, July 6, 2015

For Percival de la Rocque upon His Elevation to the Order of the Pelican

By THLaird Colyne Stwart, July AS 50 (2015)

I must now praise a man of worth
Quite tall of form with argent hair
Well known for love of drink and mirth
An archer with a herald’s flare
Who well can fire bow in clout
And once stood as a bear-lord stout.

With fingers nimble on the bow
And keen mind bent on ancient lore
Face bordered by white hair like snow
Eyes purpled by the hint of war
The bee-loved man stands proper, proud,
Is brought before a Royal crowd

And all achievements he has earned
Are loud proclaimed for all to hear
As from him heralds all have learned
And archers could cock bow to ear
For of his time he freely gives
And through him Ealdormere bright lives

Glad from his arms he gives his strength
His mettle shown with all he does
For service he will go to length
And ever this is how it was
This man of worth, this man so true,
Who shows great merit through and through.

And so the Royals name him Peer,
A Pelican of Ealdormere.

A blason written as a grand chant. A blason was a 16th century French ordered poem of praise, or blame, usually directed towards a woman which praised her physical features using metaphors. I decided to write a blazon as it takes its name from the heraldic term “blazon” which forms the root of the word “emblazon” which means to celebrate or adorn (with heraldic markings). This seemed appropriate given Percival’s love of heraldry. I also tried to use a few heraldic terms sprinkled throughout the verse.

The gran(d) chan(t), also known as the courtois, was an Old French genre of lyric poetry devised by the trouvères in the 12th to 13th centuries. It was adapted from the Occitan canso of the troubadours. Like the canso it explored courtly love, but it could also be used to expound on many other topics or themes.

Typically, a canso had three parts: the exordium (the first stanza where the composer explained his purpose), the main body of the text and then one to three envois (which were not always present). Except for the envois, the stanzas all had the same sequence of verses (each verse had the same number of metrical syllables). The envois took the form of a shortened stanza, containing only a last part of the standard stanza used up to that point.

Each stanza had the same internal rhyme scheme (so if the first line rhymed with the third line in the first stanza, it will do so in each successive one).

Friday, June 26, 2015

For Bjarn and Orlaith on the Occasion of Their Wedding

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, June 26, 2015

Bjarn food-finder                    Orlaith oath-singer
Hungers for more                    Weaves her way brightly
Odin’s-hand gifted                 Freyja’s most loved
Handler of hunt-beast             Sky-mead maiden
Raven-feeding warrior            Valkyrie striding
Bound now together               Bound now forever
Praised by skald singing         Avowed by the Althing
Two wolf-hearts one               One heart beats on

Written in the style of a Norse poem without following the conventions of any style in particular.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ten Shall Remain

By THlaird Colyne Stewart, June AS 50 (2015)

For the Barbarians, upon winning the ten-man tournament at Murder Melee XXXII.

To Melee came            a host of might
A horde to fight          upon the field
As ravens flew                        and wolfen fed
All teams of ten          all trained to stand
To face the foe            to fight and bleed
When trumpets call’d              the thunder came
The horde fell to         the happy heri
Bright steel well-swung          the poets sang
As blood fed grass      as beaten fell
‘Til one side stayed     the bar’brous swords
In riches draped          the righteous awed
From beah-gifa’s hand            the heart of Rome
To plunder right          to rich-make home

Written in the style of Old German versification.

This form is made up of lines divided into hemistichs by a caesura. Each hemistich had at two stressed syllables and at least two unstressed syllables. The syllables in each hemistich almost always followed one of the following metrical patterns:

The A-line: / x / x (knights in armour)
The B-line: x / x / (the roaring sea)
The C-line: x / / x (on high mountains)
The D1-line: / / \ x (bright archangels)
The D2-line: / / x \ (bold brazenfaced)
The E-line: / \ x / (highcrested elms)

I used the B-line, though I broke the pattern in the first hemistich of the last line.

Alliteration must occur between at least one stressed syllable in each half-line. It should be noted that all vowels alliterated, and so did any words starting with the letter G (whether the syllables had assonance or not).

Heri is an old Germanic term for army, and beah-gifa means “giver of rings” here referring to the Baron and Baroness of Ben Dunfirth.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ardchreag Einvigi II

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, June AS 50 (2015)

Konungr called
Skalds spread the call
War-born came
To high cliffs hall
Ox-cloak spread
Spear-din commenced
All fought all
In Freyja’s name

Blood-worms fed crows
Bold ring-rich fought
Feet firm set
Hel claiming dead
Hœnir wept
For Mjolnir-slain
But for one
Bjarn the untouched

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ode to my Leg (Lost at Pikeman’s in AS 50)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, June AS 50 (2015)

So sturdy, strong, a trunk my thew, sweet leg,
That takes me into battle’s brutal fray,
Encased in leather, and secured with peg,
And moves me into shieldwall ‘fore my prey.
At marshal’s call my line does fast advance,
A foe-man bold assaults against our might,
My shield-mate, vig’rous, clad in steel and brass,
Doth swing a mighty stroke with broken lance,
Misses foe-man, I feel sharp edge bite,
And find my lost leg lying in the grass.

Ardchreag Einvigi

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, June AS 50 (2015)

A squire to the tourney went,
Though arm was sore and élan spent,
For king had called for all to fight,
To show their strength and skill and might.
With token from his love, his life,
The squire went to tourney’s strife.
Long was the list of honoured foes
All blessing ‘round with mighty blows;
The squire found it hard to rise
But fought on with his trembling thighs;
The love of combat, love of king,
The love of household, all these things,
But most of all for love of her
His one true love was vigour’s spur.
‘Til finally, heralds halt the duels,
Award to winners sparkling jewels;
He, with few vic’tries to his name,
Before his lover kneels in shame,
And tries to hand her favour back,
With fingers numb and hanging slack;
She cups his face, he did her well,
For even spent he stayed the swell
Of combat, fought on, did not quit,
Earned her respect with every hit,
Squire, though victor next to none,
Then knew that he had truly won.

Monday, June 8, 2015

For the Honourable Lord Albrecht Stampher upon being Named a Vigilant of the Order of the Laurel

By THLaid Colyne Stewart, June AS 50 (2015)

[Voice 1:]
I sing now of a man most wise,
Who is adept at all he tries,
And has now come to Royal’s sight.

[Voice 2:]
I sing now of a man most prized,
Whose blade flashes’ neath the skies,
And who is known well for papers that he writes.

[Voice 3:]
I sing now of a man who tries,
Who where others fall he doth still rise,
And who wields a pen long into night.

[Voice 4:]
I sing now of a man who cries
With joy as manuscripts higher rise,
And with whom base ignorance doth lose the fight.

We sing now of Albrecht, eyes
Set upon the scholar’s guise,
Who will be raised to gloried height.

By Their decree, the Herald cries
For Albrecht, Laurel, to arise,
And bid him be a teacher bright

Written as a lied. The lieder (the plural of lied) were several types of German songs as they were referred to in English and French writings. The earliest examples are from the 12th and 13th centuries and were the works of the Minnesingers.

The lied proper usually made use of the bar form. It was made up of a strophe (stanza) divided into two stollen (confusingly also referred to as stanzas, and collectively known as an aufgesang). They were followed by an abesang (the after-song). It was apparently not uncommon for the stollen to be of different lengths. Melodically, the abesang would mirror the end melody of the aufgesang. The bar form was usually represented as AAB (with the As being the two stollen and the B being the abesang).

The courtly minnelieder were monophonic (a single melodic line). As musical notation of this period was not precise, the rhythmic interpretation is open to debate.

In the 14th century the monophonic lied went into decline, while the polyphonic lied was introduced (for two or more voices or voice and instruments).

In the 15th century the polyphonic lieder expanded to having up to four voices, and were addressed to scholars and clergy.

As Albrecht’s persona is 16th century German, I went with the later polyphonic version of the lied, which fit quite well as he is being made a Laurel for research, and the later lieder were often addressed to scholars.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Helheim Unfed

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, June As 50 (2015)

The rotter of bodies
Ravished my friend
But she fought
Like no other foe
Warrior stout
Weary but brave
Baldur’s best
Eir has well blessed

Writen as a kviðuhátr for Raven Haraldson, who beat cancer.

Kviðuhátr was an 8-line alliterative verse form, resembling fornyrðislag except that its lines alternated between three and four syllables. Alternatively, other sources say it is line 3, 5 and 7 that are 3 syllables with the rest being four. The alliteration can also carry over from one line to the next (so a word in line 1 alliterates with a word in line 2, a word in line 3 with line 4, and so on).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

For Korigan and Helen upon the Occasion of their Wedding

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, May AS 50 (2015)

When love binds hearts and friend to friend are one,
And vows are said and seen by kith and kin,
With hands tied fast beneath officiant’s grin,
Then love o’er hate the day has brightly won.

With vow to spouse, daughter proud, and son,
The lovers stand united midst glad din,
And on the floor they gleeful, playful, spin;
So sweet the kiss that can not be undone.

Written as an English octave. In English, an octave consists of 8-lines of iambic pentameter (while in Italian would be hendecasyllabic). The most common rhyme scheme for an octave was abba abba, which is what I used here.

The first line of the second stanza refers to the fact that Korigan and Helen did not just make vows to each other, but also to their children, making them part of the proceedings and further binding them together as a family. It was very touching.

Monday, May 25, 2015

For Quilliam III and Domhnail II

Upon his victory at Crown Tournament

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, May AS 50 (2015)

A wolfen duke he was, a countess bold was she,
Down Rising Waters way, they went with sword and shield,
Her favour bore he well upon contested field,
His arm was strong and true, the foe-blood flowed so free,
All who came before him, were forced to take a knee,
Tormot for raven won the northlands golden crown,
Put it where she glad sat, well clad in silken gown,
And made his lady proud, princess for all to see.

Written as a non-strict copla de arte mayor.

Arte mayor is a line of nine or more syllables, though it is also the name of a strophe made up of such lines. The basic pattern was 12-beat verse divided into two hemistichs of six beats each and having triple rhyme. The primary and secondary stress beats of each hemistich are supplied by accented syllables while the unstressed beats between them are supplied by two unaccented syllables. The remaining unstressed beats may each be supplied by one or two unaccented syllables or a rest beat. However, this pattern was not always strictly followed.

They were normally collected into groups of 8 lines (called copla de arte mayor) and rhymed abbaacca.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Poems for Feast at Septentrian Investiture AS 50 (2015)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart


When blossoms blow upon sweet breeze
The bear awakes from slumber’s ease
To walk upon the grass now grown
And gambols where the sparrow’s flown
Past bees about their busy work
Approaches wary to the hive
And smears sweet honey on its smirk
So happy just to be alive


Hot, bright, the sun of summer tide
As bear in ocean’s water slides
Past sea behemoth’s massive grin
And swims around the great fish fins
To scoop up prey within its paws
Bright sunlight glinting on the shell
So pink and hard with stalks and claws
In ursine stomach sent to dwell


Some men and women work the field
To gather up the ripened yield
While bear goes chasing after game
Through branch and bramble, both the same,
To feast on meat, to put on fat
For lo the wheel of time still turns
And sun approaches hilltop flat
Swift setting on the gourds and kerns


The snow lays quiet on the land
And covers lake and field and sand
Like icing on a lordling’s cake
The snow grows deeper, flake by flake
And through this scene dances the bear
With both its kin, and white-black birds
Like sugar breath puffs in the air

But feast now, no more time for words! 

Poem for Grom Meinfretr's Barony Scroll

Weather of wolves      winter-spear dying
Elf-glory rises              enlightening thegn
Heavy the arm-ring     hardy his sinew
Ring-giver rightly        roaring his blood-worm
Honour-fed honey-claw          hero of clan-kin
Blood-ember burier     Bold spear-dancer
Head-ring adorns him             hanged-god’s favoured
Faces now future        following uncut thread

With kennings footnoted:

Weather of wolves[1]     winter-spear[2] dying
Elf-glory[3] rises                        enlightening thegn
Heavy the arm-ring     hardy his sinew
Ring-giver rightly        roaring his blood-worm[4]
Honour-fed honey-claw[5]        hero of clan-kin
Blood-ember[6] burier    Bold spear-dancer[7]
Head-ring[8] adorns him                        hanged-god’s[9] favoured
Faces now future        following uncut thread[10]

[1] Harsh winter
[2] Icicle
[3] The sun
[4] Sword
[5] Bear, referring to Grom as being Septentrian
[6] Axe
[7] Warrior
[8] His baronial coronet
[9] Odin
[10] Unfilled destiny, meaning there is more in store for Grom to accomplish

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hounds of Arrochar

Dedicated to Gilchrist, Ilsa, Boaz, Ozymandius, O’ber and Fengil
By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 49 (2015)

In northern hall the hounds all sit,
Sleek bodies fit for dogs who hunt,
When with a grunt released they fly,
Give voice to cry as swift they go,
The whippets flow through bright green grass,
While greyhounds pass and kennets bay,
Lymers find the prey, elusive,
And then, conclusive, end the game;
So heed their lord and dame, head home,
No more to roam and on floor sprawl.

Written using the Irish poetic device known as Aicill. Aicill is a rhyme scheme where the final word of one line rhymes with an internal word in the next rhyme.

For instance:

He was a man both strong and tall,
Who, come the fall, would travel round
To hallowed ground, and there kneel down

I again settled on iambic octometer for my meter (for some reason that feels most natural to me), and did not use a traditional poetic stanza form. I instead wrote single ceathramhain (lines of verse) until I felt the tale had been told (in this case a scene of all the dogs who are part of House Arrochar chasing something through a field). I also chose to write it as a single rann (stanza). Technically I also used the device known as dúnadh (meaning “conclusion”) where the poem begins and ends on the same sound. This sound can be the whole word, a syllable, or just a letter. This poem begins and ends with the letter L, so it could be considered to be using dúnadh. Another device I made use of a on a few ceathramhain was uaim, which is the use of alliteration in early Irish poetry. With uaim only unaccented syllables should come between alliterated words (so “hall the hounds,” “fit for,” “when with,” “green grass,” and “head home” all alliterate correctly).

Kennets were a type of dog used as small hunting hounds, while lymers were dogs used to locate game.

For more information on dogs in period, check out:

Walker-Meikle, Kathleen. Medieval Dogs. British Library, 2013.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cu and his Cup

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 49 (2015)

Attend and hear a story that I swear to be the truth
Of events that befell Cu in the lost days of his youth
He planned to fight in tourney but his shield was missing sooth
He could not find it anywhere, nay any other sleuth

A kindly lady gave up hers and so he took the field
But his helm was hungry and his skin it ripped and peeled
With cloth he blotted up the blood, and took up sword to wield
But marshal said, “Ah hell no, son, this battle you must yield.”

So Quilliam, king, then came to him and offered royal helm
Cu, so honoured, fought so well his foes were overwhelmed
Feeling bold he faced one more among leafing oaks and elm
And then fate struck a nasty blow now known across the realm

As battle raged, our Cu felt odd, and marshals called a hold
For now a piece of armour lay upon the grassy wold
It was his cup upon the ground, now rocking where it rolled
How it came free we’ll never know, for no one has been told

Cu then turned to free his head but the helm was stuck quite tight
It took combined the strength of three—the king, baron and knight—
To pull and wrench the helmet off, and end poor Cu’s sad plight
And allow him to pick up his cup, which like his face, was white.

Many years ago at a Fruit of our Labours event in Ramshaven, Lord Cu Allaidh Dona had planned to fight but forgot his shield. He was loaned one, allowing him to take part in the fighting, but when he put his helm on it cut him. The marshal, His Excellency Percival deLaroque (then Baron of Septentria) bounced the offending helm. Luckily, King Quilliam lent Cu his regnal helm, and Cu finally took to the field. He found he was fighting extremely well. He then took part in an authorization bout which was quickly called to a halt as something had come flying out of the fray to roll across the grass. It was Cu’s protective cup. When Cu retired from the field to collect his wayward protective gear, he found he could not get the king’s helm off his head. It required King Quilliam, Baron Percival and Sir Edward the Red to pull it free. Cu, getting the message, then stopped fighting for the day. (Tale as related to the author by Cu and Percival.)

Heart and Soul

Dedicated to Duchess Adrielle Kerrec
By THLaird Colyne Stewart, AS 49 (2015)

So bright the deeds of northern maid,
The duchess bold her works well done,
Who with the cups has often played,
And ‘gainst her foes has always won,
Well known her mirth, her sense of fun,
Who with the folk can oft endear,
And cares about most everyone,
The heart, the soul, of Ealdormere.

On noble ground her feet have laid,
Her realm the lands Septentrian,
Protected by her lance and blade,
In battle fought in rain and sun,
In which she made the foemen run,
Or catch them up upon her spear,
As trophies of the melees won,
The heart, the soul, of Ealdormere.

Well many are the things she’s made,
The tunics sewn, the thread she’s spun,
And taught her students in the glade,
And yet her work is just begun,
As Laurel and as Pelican;
Her words on scrolls are sweet to hear;
Her skills so vast, second to none,
The heart, the soul, of Ealdormere.

So princes listen to your son,
And turn to me your gracious ear,
As praise I give to worthy one,
The heart, the soul, of Ealdormere.

Along with the rondeau and the virelai, the ballade is one of the formes fixes. Between the late 13th and the 15th centuries, ballades were often set to music.

The ballade is a verse form usually consisting of three 8-line stanzas, each with a consistent meter and a particular rhyme scheme. The last line in the stanza is a refrain. The stanzas are often followed by a 4-line envoi (concluding stanza), usually addressed to a prince. The rhyme scheme is usually ababbcbC ababbcbC ababbcbC bcbC (the capital C being the refrain).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Heir Alone

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, AS 49 (2015)

The heir alone with sword in hand
Awaits to fight with rapier bold
Contestants from across the land.
The heir alone with sword in hand
Will glad cross blades on field and sand
And in his heart bright valour hold.
The heir alone with sword in hand
Awaits to fight with rapier bold.

At Winter War in March AS 49, HRH Steinnar made known his wish to fence with as many of the kingdoms fencers as possible. This is to commemorate that moment.

This was written as a triolet, which was a 13th century stanza poem of 8-lines, written in iambic tetrameter and rhyming ABaAabAB. The first, fourth and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines (thus making the initial and final couplets identical as well). The triolet is related to the rondeau.

Friday, February 27, 2015


By THLaird Colyne Stewart, February AS 49 (2015)

A shield, a sword, an axe, a lance,
He takes with him to melee’s dance,
Upon his head his crest;
In tourney leads the folk of France,
In war he’s known for piercing glance,
And the star upon his chest;
In battle preaux, leaves naught to chance,
To brave protect the northern manse,
Love beats within his breast.

On virtue’s anvil he would test,
While in fine raimments he is dressed,
Dischivalry his hell;
From the jaw of lose he’ll wrest
Victory for the sorely pressed,
And yet more I could tell;
He clutches favour she has blessed,
Which drives him to his very best,
All for his Adrielle.

One of the formes fixes, the virelai was often used in poetry and music (it was, in fact, one of the most common verse forms set to music from the 13th to the 15th centuries). By the mid 15th century the virelai was no longer usually set to music.

The virelai ancient had no refrain. It used an interlocking rhyme scheme between the stanzas. In the first stanza the rhyme scheme is aabaabaab (with the b lines being shorter in length). In the second stanza the b rhymes are shifted to the longer lines and a new c rhyme is introduced on the shorter ones (bbcbbcbbc).

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Also for Mahault
By THLaird Colyne Stewart

The pillars of the grandest house are built,
By deeds both great and small the bricks are laid,
And with hard work the walls and floors are gilt,
With blood and sweat the mighty mansion’s made.

The mason is Abundantia on earth,
Her toils in both hall and field are great,
Long laboured maiden held in deepest worth,
Who does not fear the fight with fickle fate.

Clementia forgive her forthright voice,
Which rises in defense of those struck mute,
To honest live, herself to be, her choice,
Who can then dare to bold denounce her route?

So do I grace her gifting words I penned,
To sister, mentor, and my closest friend.

A Shakespearean sonnet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


By THLaird Colyne Stewart

A knife so sharp it cuts the sun,
Bright glinting on the helmet done,
The hound baying at his heel,
The forks forged from shining steel,
Acorns grow in a field,
Rodent spread on his shield,
AND in his harness ventures forth to fight;
Soap he renders out of the fat,
Pounding rivets, pummeled, hammered flat,
The quill held in calloused hand,
Letters wrought, the small, the grand,
Mixing ink in white shell,
Pounding on training pell,
AND learning values from his worthy knight.

Reading all books that come to hand,
Behind the thrones of Royals stands,
Carves the meat in feasting hall,
Fearing not the weather’s squall,
Brewing beer, and sweet wine,
Walking through both oak, pine,
AND aids his squire-brothers as he can;
Teaching both in hall and the field,
His worth of measure well revealed,
Cooking over pit of fire,
Being knightly he ‘spires,
All these works by one soul,
Done not for writ or scroll,
THESE are the things that make a mighty man.

OK. This is a priamel. That is to say, it’s a type of German poem that throws around a lot of seemingly unrelated ideas until tying them together at the end. So the lines of this priamel throw out a lot of details about different stuff, but in the end we learnt hat it is all stuff that Berend has done. Berend, having a Dutch persona, would have grown up hearing the work of the mineesingers (hence my choice of German poetics).

While the genre of the poem is the priamel, the form I used is called leich. The leich was a lyric form, similar to the French descort, which was widely used between circa 1200 and 1350. Poems written as a leich were designed to be sung. It could use irregular stanza forms and could be non-repetitive (or it could use a standard stanza form and repeat verses). Regardless of its regularity or irregularity of stanzic form, it was isostrophic (which meant all stanzas conform to the first stanza). They generally had a lot of short rhyming units and could use different types of rhyme.

So I built a stanza form of two 8-syllable lines, followed by two lines of 7-syllables, two lines of 6-syllables, and ending with a line of 10-syllables. This is not a standard stanza form; I wanted to be able to enjoy the freedom of having the option of having an irregular stanza form. The lines were rhyming couplets (AABBCC) while the last line (D) would rhyme with the last lines of the following stanzas. I decided to go with four stanzas, and split them equally in half (so two stanzas per half). I did include a little tiny bit of repetition by having the first three 10-syllable lines start with the same word (which I also decided to render in capital letters). I mainly used end-rhyme, though there is some alliteration in there too.


For Baroness Mahault of Swynford
By THLaird Colyne Stewart

From fingers flow a scene,
Of gold leaf, red and green,
Ink and paint they dance,
The quill her quiet lance,
Lines arch crisp and lines arch clean,
To convey gift from her queen.

Mahault, while not having a full persona, did take her name from the Flemish version of Matilda. Therefore, I wanted to write something for her in the Flemish style. Flanders (which is now part of modern Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) shared its literary styles with both the Germans and the Dutch. Therefore I decided to write a minnelied (which literally was a poem or song written by a minnesinger). I found an example of a minnelied that was six lines long with a rhyme scheme of AABBAA. The first two lines had 6-syllables, the following two had 5-syllables, and the last two lines had 7-syllables. This is the manner in which I wrote my poem.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Singing in the Quire

For Athrawes Tarian verch Gadarn
By THLaird Colyne Stewart, February AS 49 (2015)

In master’s hands the boards turn,
By gimlet and plane they churn;
As at her knee pupils learn,
And for new books their hearts yearn.

Yearn to sew the quires straight,
Bind the folia of eight,
Band to board and mate to mate,
Save it from unworthy Fate.

Fate can be athwarted sore
With skin of the goat or boar,
Corner-pieces numbered four,
And catch-plate, bosses and score.

Score the end-band, sing it loud,
Hold end product to the crowd;
Nimble fingers never cowed,
Makes her kingdom ever proud.

I tried to write this poem using the Welsh cywydd metrical form, but I didn’t get it quite right. In cywydd each first line of the couplet should end on a stressed syllable, while the second line ends on an unstressed syllable. All of my lines ended up stressed. It is a very foreign concept to me to end on an unstressed syllable. I also found working with seven syllable lines to be odd (I usually write even numbered lines).

I did however manage to use two Welsh poetic devices (cerdd dagod). The first was using a single end-rhyme in each section of the poem (in this case quatrains). In Welsh this is known as awdl simpliciter (though poems written in awdl simpliciter were usually much longer in length. A *lot* longer.) The second was cyrch-gymeriad, which is using the last word of a stanza as the first word of the following stanza.

Final verdict: it’s ok. I need more practice in trying to adapt Welsh poetics into English. Or learn Welsh. You know, whichever.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

For Siegfried Brandbeorn upon being named a vigilant of the Order of the Pelican

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, February AS 49 (2015)

Siegfried, bold knight,
Look now to light;
Behold what waits,
What monarch states:
For service done,
For honour won,
For duty full,
For grace’s pull,
Bow down your head.
Be not in dread,
As rulers speak
Of phoenix beak,
Of hands hurt raw,
Of wolfen paw,
Of feet sore tread,
Of oaths you said,
Of feasts you cooked,
Of halls you booked,
Of land you tilled,
Of roles you filled.
For service done,
For honour won,
Unbend your knee,
We look to thee,
With glory gird,
We wait your word,
Not done by half,
Most worthy Graf.

Written as a Sprechspruch, a German form employed by the minnesingers. It consists of 4-beat lines, arranged in rhymed pairs. It is unstrophic (that is, it is not divided into regular stanzas) but could be divided into sections of various lengths at the poet’s whim. The form is fairly simple, except for the fact that 4-beat lines are hard to write, what with them being so short! 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lion-Wolf of Ealdormere

By THlaird Colyne Stewart, January AS 49 (2015)

From West he came    to wed the north
Strong-armed and true                        and stalwart bold
He took a crown         in clawed paws strong
Blood-song brightened           and to battle sworn

In Shire he came         sweet song sung his blade
Cloak-danced with foes          clad bright in mail
Breaker of rings          brought forth wound-sea
Fed eagles bold           and foes he tamed

Then jarl of old           earl among earls
Trod the spread cloak             two blood-worms held
Former prince-king      Foe-man hammer
David, raven feeder    dared all to battle

In spear-din met          swift lion and wolf
Slayer of giants           singing of the deed
Took note the skalds   took note the mighty
Slaughter-dew flew    as sun light fell

They battled long        bold fighters both
Found honour there    in foe-man’s fierceness
When din was done    down fell the jarl
The Western lion        had won the day

At Tournoi de Coeur des Glace in 2015, His Royal Highness Steinnar met Syr David Martin Failsworth in the finals of the grand tournament. Syr David was the first Prince of the Principality of Ealdormere, and the first King of the Kingdom of Ealdormere, and is one of our greatest fighters. His Highness gladly met this living legend in honourable combat and was able through his own great skill to carry the day.

This poem, written in an Eddic verse form called Fornyrðislag, is to commemorate this meeting of giants. Fornyrðislag consists of 4-line stanzas, with each line broken into two half lines. The first half line had to have two stressed and two unstressed syllables, while the second half had to have two stressed and either two or three unstressed syllables. It was an alliterative form, with either the first or second stressed syllable in the first half-line alliterating with the first stressed syllable in the second half-line. As was not unusual with Nordic verse I also made liberal use of kennings.

Below I have included a foot-noted version of the poem.

From West[1] he came   to wed the north
Strong-armed and true                        and stalwart bold
He took a crown         in clawed paws strong
Blood-song[2] brightened          and to battle sworn

In Shire[3] he came        sweet song sung his blade
Cloak-danced[4] with foes        clad bright in mail
Breaker of rings[5]         brought forth wound-sea[6]
Fed eagles[7] bold          and foes he tamed

Then jarl of old           earl among earls
Trod the spread cloak             two blood-worms[8] held
Former prince-king      Foe-man hammer
David, raven feeder[9]   dared all to battle

In spear-din[10] met       swift lion[11] and wolf[12]
Slayer of giants[13]         singing of the deed
Took note the skalds[14]            took note the mighty
Slaughter-dew[15] flew  as sun light fell

They battled long        bold fighters both
Found honour there    in foe-man’s fierceness
When din was done    down fell the jarl
The Western lion        had won the day

[1] HRH Steinnar originally hailed from An Tir, whose heraldry features a lion.
[2] Battle.
[3] Bastille du Lac.
[4] When the Norse dueled they sometimes put down a cloak, upon which the combatants had to stand.
[5] A chieftain or king, here referring to the fact he is Prince of Ealdormere.
[6] Blood, indicting that he is hitting his opponents.
[7] Defeating enemies.
[8] Swords.
[9] Warrior.
[10] Battle.
[11] Steinnar is a lion, the symbol of his former home An Tir.
[12] David is a wolf, a symbol of Ealdormere.
[13] Thor.
[14] Norse poets and bards.
[15] Blood.