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!