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.