Thursday, December 22, 2016

And scarlet red his flag

TH Laird Colyne Stewart, December AS 51 (2016)

Winter white the prince’s horse,
And scarlet red his flag,
Dimpled snow belied his course,
‘Cross the heather and the gorse,
And scarlet red his flag.
His lance askew, tipping down,
And scarlet red his flag,
Tattered crest upon his crown,
Jupon stained with ruddy brown,
And scarlet red his flag.
Holes in armour gaping large,
And scarlet red his flag,
Scabbard empty of its charge,
Lost with spear and royal targe,
And scarlet red his flag.
Falling, quiet, into snow,
And scarlet red his flag,
Never now his love to know,
Left to die a death so slow,
And scarlet red his flag.

Monday, December 19, 2016

O Badrielle

O Badrielle,
You give advice so freely,
And you don't mock or laugh at anyone.
As puppets go your blood is rather steely,
And you have a hand that goes right up your bum.
People long to hear what you will say next,
They all yearn to be told just what to do.

You have no knees
O hear the puppet voices
O Badrielle!
O doll, whose view's askew
O Badrielle!
O Bad-, O Badrielle!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Her Royal Heritage

By TH Laird Colyne Steward, Lupine Bard, November AS 51 (2016)

My Queen has asked me to recite
Fair words about her forebears bright—
“My regal mothers, were they fierce,
And with sharp spears the foemen pierced?
Or were they kind and debonair,
With flowers in their braided hair?
And did they work with silk and thread,
Or were they bookish and well read?
Of horses did they know their way,
And could they lead the hounds that bay?
Oh tell me, poet, of my past,
And of my line, my mothers passed.”
“My fairest queen, hear now your lore,
So many others gone before,
Lo each of them were royal true,
And many were the things they’d do;
But there was one who did them all,
Who led her folk in field and hall,
With those of wolf and of the bear,
Met strong the tygre’s steely stare,
She rode her stead in battle’s hell,
And strode with spear and never fell.
She bled her blood, she worked her hands,
For betterment of all our lands.
With needle, thread, she knew her art,
And always giving from her heart,
She clothed so many ‘gainst the cold—
Yet, wait! For more there must be told!
Around her children laughing play,
While hounds, obedient, panting stay;
Within her rooms are piled tomes
Among her pins and fancy combs,
And red and yellow hair bound flowers,
From which she’s read in midnight hours.
So worthy she, so right and true,
A Pelican and Laurel too,
Countess, Duchess and Baroness,
Her name to you I will confess
‘Tis Adrielle, the Iron Queen,
Whose virtues I see in your mien.
Xristina, ruler, sovereign,
My duty now is duly done.”

During the reign of Siegfried II and Xristina, the people of Ealdormere were challenged to write a song, poem or story about one of the Queens of Ealdormere. I choose Her Grace, Adrielle Kerrec, who I feel epitomizes all that is noble within our Society. I wrote my poem as an amas, which was a genre in 7th century Ireland that extolled the virtues of a local saint. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Be Virtuous

The concepts behind the ideals of chivalry are not just empty words, and they do not apply only when we are playing our medieval game. They are real life values. They are called virtues for a reason. It is incumbent upon us all to show those values to the world, through our actions and thoughts in the real world.
Now more than ever.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

AElfwyn Knighting Poem

To Mark the Elevation of AElfwyn Laganwuda into the Order of Chivalry
By THLaird Colyne Stewart, Sep AS 51 (2016)

Attend upon AElfwyn || axe-handed warrior
Woman of wolf-blood || winner of wars
Boar-branded carl || oft battled for high crown
Brought honour bright-handed || to kingdom and king
On hide-cloak or hilltop || at home or on far field
Faced she all foemen || who dared face her blade
For king she knelt truly || and bore his ring keenly
Like Beowulf boldly || battle-light taking
Gathered much mind-worth || which gladly she bore
Now earls erupt shouting || as high-king advances
Yell boldly her brave deeds || while beating on shields
Gracious gift-giving || king bands her arm brightly
Ring-giver right names her || as Ridda and cnicht

This was written to be read when Ælfwyn came out of her vigil to hold the field in a holmgang circle, but we were running late.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Minerva and Mars Debate Their Worth (Proelio verborum gladiisque—A Clash of Words and Swords)

By THL Roselyne de l’ Estrangere and THL Colyne Stewart
Written as part of the Medieval Debate Poetry class at War of the Trillium, July 2016 (AS 51)

I.                   Prolocutio [Prelude]

There once arose a fine debate—
The Gods of War, which was more great?
Mars, with his courage, sword and axe?
Minerva, with her greater tact?

[Enim contentio erumpit:
Quis aptior, di belli, sit?
Minerva maiore dolo,
Aut Mars virtute, gladio?]

[A debate broke out, indeed:
The gods of war, who was most fit?
Minerva, greater in guile,
Or Mars, with his courage/strength, his sword?]

            II.     Minerva

Oh, Mars, bold brother, god of war,
Who comes to hall adrape in gore,
What right claim you to sit that seat
At Father’s side, by mead and meat?
That is my place, that is my chair,
Begone, go back to battle’s lair.

         III.     Mars

Honour is mine, 'tis good and right,
By Jupiter to sit each night.
War is a sport for manly heart;
To weave, like you, is woman’s art!
It is for men to spill men’s blood;
Why has this not been understood?

         IV.     Minerva

Poor Mars, who thinks with little sword,
Believes his worth as mighty lord
Is one and all tied to his sex
And bellows while his muscles flex.
But war is more than savage skill—
There must be justice in each kill.

            V.     Mars

Justice is obvious to me—
Before my sword all cowards flee!
Why not upon my sex rely?
My rivals all are sure to die!
If you think not my view is right
Put off your toils, and let us fight!

      VI.   Conclusio [Conclusion]

So fight they did, the sparks did fly,
Till Jupiter called from the sky,
“My children, you must not compete,
For that is Juno’s promised seat.”

[Flagravit bellum, furenter,
Rex donec dixit Iupiter,
“Nolite pugnare, fili!
Sedem Junoni promisi!”]

[Battle broke out, furiously
Until King Jupiter said,
“Do not fight, (my) children!
I have promised the seat to Juno!”]

At War of the Trillium in 2016, as part of the Trillium War School, THL Colyne Stewart taught a class on medieval debate poetry. Tough various scholars have differing opinions on just what qualifies as a “true” debate poem, but for the purposes of the class a debate poem was any poem wherein two or more different points of view expounded on a topic (with two or three being the most common). The points of view in debate poetry were expressed by speakers which could be almost anything, including people, inanimate objects, personifications (of emotions, seasons, etc.), or religious figures. Sometimes a judge or judges would be invoked to settle the debate.

The class was a practical one, so the students paired up to write their poems together. As there was an uneven number of students, Roselyne was paired with Colyne.  The class decided to all write on the same subject to see how different approaches could be taken with the same theme. The subject selected was Athena debating Ares (Roselyne and Colyne decided to go with the Roman version of the gods). The class agreed to all write couplets in iambic tetrameter. Roselyne and Colyne elected to write their stanzas in six lines, with an introduction and conclusion of four lines. They also elected to invoke a judge, and decided to have the judge not agree with either of the debaters.

After the fact, Roselyne translated the prelude and conclusion into Latin which followed the poetic conventions agreed upon as well as a new literal translation back into English.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

From the Flames Forged

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, May AS 51 (2016)

For Their Highnesses Ealdormere, Siegfried and Xristinia, and in memory of a very hot Crown Tournament in Bastille du Lac.

The shire’s sun seared hot the flesh
Of those who came to fight that day
Hadean heat burned through the mesh
Of gallery and tents so gay.
The warriors, stout fighters all,
In horrid heat contested well,
But one by one they topple fall,
Into the brittle grassy hell.
The heat—damn heat—of Vulcan’s forge,
Which caused them all to cook and steam,
And raised their stomachs in their gorge,
It stood between them and their dream.
But one, a phoenix, born of fire,
From molten heat arises new,
Alone upon that field so dire,
A-drape in jupon sodden blue.
In sun burned hand he takes the crown,
And gifts it to the woman who
Now kneeling on the earth burned brown
Inspired him to battle through.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Partimen of Rhodri ap Hywel and Colyne Stewart

By Master Rhodri ap Hywel of Calontir and THLaird Colyne Stewart of Ealdormere, March AS 50 (2016)


As part of my goal (this is Colyne speaking) of writing fifty poems during Anno Societatis 50, I decided I wanted to write a partimen. The partimen was a genre of Occitan and Old French lyric poetry composed between two troubadours. It is a subgenre of the tenso or cobla (a poetic debate). I reached out to see if anyone else was interested in taking part in the partimen and Master Rhodri of Calontir eagerly accepted.

The first speaker in the partimen presents a problem with two solutions and leaves his opponent to choose which solution to defend and then takes up the second option themselves. Therefore the debate is not based on conviction but simply for the sake of discussion. However, this distinction does not appear to have been seen in period, with troubadours and trouvères using both interchangeably. One of the most common themes in partimen was courtly love. Each speaker (sometimes the same poet, sometimes two different poets) contribute three stanzas and an envoi in which he appeals to someone to be his judge. In some poems the two participants appeal to the same person, but more often each participant chose their own judge.

Since Rhodri is from Calontir, and I am from Ealdormere, and both of our kingdoms share strong bonds of friendship, I decided to pose a dilemma in which I felt sure we’d both have opinions. Namely,which animal is more noble, the falcon or the wolf? (The falcon being the totemic beast of Calontir, while the wolf serves Ealdormere as the same).

The form of the poem was set as tercets (groups of three lines rhyming aab) written in trochaic trimeter (lines of three metrical feet switching between stressed and unstressed syllables). I chose this form as I do not usually write in trochaic meter so felt it would be more of a challenge.

The Partimen

There the strong beasts abound
Round the woods they fierce found
But which most noble be?
Wolf of fang and claw red
From whom all foes have fled
King of forest’s great tree?
Or be it the bold bird
Falcon feathery furred
God of blue sky made free?
This our dilemma be
Answer this is our plea
So ask I friend Rhodri.

Like days of winter’s end
Come words from Colyne friend.
Wisdom he seeks from me.
Joyfully I reply
My answer not denied
So this I now decree:
The wolf is strong indeed
Shall none say I mislead,
But in this he lesser be.
He watches falcons fly
Above his howling cry;
His wish to be so free.
But, like all falcon’s prey
Must watch until the day
When suffers falcon’s glee,
And the storm-cleaver strikes
With claws like soldier’s pikes
Then even wolf must flee.
So this claim I is true
But to friend Bryce I sue
Judge these words I do plea

Reply I must and will
Through paper ink and quill
To words by friend Rhodri.
Falcon lord, Wolfen king,
Which is best, Which takes ring?
Answer is lupine, thee
Must if are honest men
Take his side, only then
Will all of us agree:
For soaring bird on wing
Target is, for bow string,
Plummets down into tree,
While the grey wolf will stalk
Those who slew purple hawk
And with teeth sharp and free
Tear out the hunter’s throat
Rend his maille and surcoat
Pay no heed to his plea.
I claim this to be true
Frederick, master, you
Judge our words, blessed be.

The Judgment

As our judges Rhodri chose Master Bryce de Byram of Atlantia and I choose Master Fridrikr Tomassen of AEthlemearc (though he is referred to by an Anglicization of his name in the poem). Both judges elected to render their verdicts in verse. Master Fridrikr was the first to reply:

You call on me to stand and speaking true
an answer to your pleadings give to you
And now I say, good fellows never fear
for Rhodri stands and calls forth bravest hawk
Whilst Colyne enters with lupine friend to talk
and neither makes the answer sky-blue clear
Come gentle foes, who friends at end must be
and hear this Master, for whom the words direct
are hard, who speaks in kennings using their effect
to form the verse to make the hearer see.
My love for Ealdor Crown must hold and sway
And thus I claim that Colyne takes the day.

We still await Master Bryce’s verdict, and I will post it once it is received.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Muses

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, April AS 50 (2016)

Urania is to me a mystery,
As is Terpsichore her sister fair,
Polyhymenia does not to me
Deign speak, but Clio has me in her snare.
Both Calliope and Thalia share
My love, as does Erato and her harp,
In Euterpe’s embrace I find some care,
While Melpomene’s teeth are long and sharp.

Written as a  huitain (pronounced wit-tain) which ws a 15th century 8-line strophe with 8-syllable lines (French) or 10-syllable lines (English), using three rhymes with one of these appearing four times and with the same rhyme for the fourth and fifth lines. The rhyme scheme was usually ababbcbc, and sometimes abbaacac. The huitain could be a stand alone poem, or used as a unit in longer poems. Sometimes multiple poets would each supply hutains to make a longer piece. It was most popular in the 15th – 16th centuries; in the 18th it was used for epigrams. There are those who think this French form is based on an older Spanish one[1].

[1] Travis Lyons: 219.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The dog is intent

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, April AS 50 (2016)

The dog is intent
In the window sitting
Barks at those who trespass
As is only fitting

Our lives she protects
From our peaceful neighbours
Who daily go about
Toiling at labours

At the dog shouting
Never who will waver
In her mind a hero
The dog intent, savior.

This poem is written in breccbairdne which were Old Irish quatrains consisting of one 5-syllable line followed by three 6-syllable lines. They rhymed xaxa xbxb (and so on, where the x lines did not rhyme). All end words had two syllables. Poems written in breccbairdne concluded with dúnadh (when a poem began and ended on the same letter, word or syllable).

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sing the song

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, April AS 50 (2016)

Sing the song,
Walk along,
In the throng,
In your hyrd.

Drink the mead,
Shout your deed,
State the creed,
Feel heart stirred.

Swing the sword,
Hit the board,
Earn reward,
Kill foe  king.

Swing the axe,
Pay blood tax,
Use thy saex,
Earn your ring.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Carl and Scop

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, April AS 50 (2016)

At fire a scop was speaking
While around him all were drinking
He spoke of his deeds
The giving of beads
And the seeds of thinking.

At back of the flaming fire
A carl calls scop a liar
Calls out tale teller
Calls him lie seller
Pit dweller, insult dire.

The carl, no beard on his chin,
In front of his family and kin,
With head full of mead,
And eyes full of greed,
Pays no heed to his sin.

The scop silent looks at the churl,
Then asks him when he became earl?
What deeds has he done?
What tales has he spun?
Low-born son of swine-pearl.

In what realms the halls he has raised?
In whose heart of hearts is he praised?
What monsters he’s slain,
To whom is he bane,
In the rain what towns razed?

Rebuffed, the carl pulls back his seat,
‘Til all that is seen are his feet,
Consumed by the dark,
Struck now with a mark,
Far from spark and fire’s heat.

Written in Clogyrnach (pronounced clog-ir’-nach) which is n awdl stanza form. It consisted of two 8-syllable lines, followed by two 5 syllable lines and two 3-syllable lines. The last two lines or four lines could also be collapsed into one line. I have chosen to collapse the last two.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Espinela 1

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, April AS 50 (2016)

I went to Crown to see his Grace,
Accoutered well with sword and mace,
Upon the field of honour bright,
To God give praise and set to fight,
A man resolved and stern of face.
A clash of steel begins the chase
As armour dents and weapons fly
Beneath the banners blowing high—
The foe defeated falls to ground
And kneeling Duke averts his eye.

This poem was written as an espinela which is a late 16th century Spanish octosyllabic 10-line stanza rhyming aabba/accdc. This was sometimes augmented by two more lines rhyming ed. This form evolved from the décima and is also known as décima espanela.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

My armour is cold

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

I cannot fight, my gear is cold,
I feel my age, I feel so old,
Today was tough, I am so tired,
My armour needs to be rewired,
My leg is sore, so is my hip,
My sword has lost its thrusting tip,
I just am not in fighting mood,
I recently ate too much food,
I want to talk to other folk,
I have no drive to slash and poke,
My fighting clothes are damp and wet,
They smell of month old event sweat,
My axe is blunt, my helm all rust,
My shield is laden down with dust,
I feel a cold just coming on,
I cannot breath through deaf’ning yawn,
I have no tape to make repairs,
I did not bring my underwears,
My cup is sitting on the steps,
So little strength in my biceps…
A glare from knight puts all to rest
I armour up and do my best.

Written as an escondich which was an Occitan genre of poetry about excuses. Bertran de Born (1140s – c. 1215) wrote the only extant example of this genre known as Le m’escondisc (“He Protests His Innocence to a Lady”).

What Honour’s Wrought

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

My lady I have won for thee.
On the field of chivalry
I took no knee.
I frayed into the anarchy
Of battle’s plea
And there I won it all for thee,
My lady.

My lord you won it not for me.
I did not see chivalry;
I saw your glee;
You take more blows to fell than tree.
You took the key
Of my bount’ous heart’s love for thee;
So beastly.

My lady it was destiny
That drove my sword’s gluttony.
I took no knee
To show your honour’s dignity.
Could I foresee
That my actions were not worthy
My lady?

My lord you’ll find you must agree
That you acted shamefully—
I saw your glee.
You acted discourteously
For all to see
And brought great shame to thee and me
Forever be.

This bit of didactism is an estampida. The 12th century Provençal genre of the estampida (“uproar”) is related to the Old French estampie. It employed regular stanza structures (that is, all the stanzas looked the same) and a single-rhyme scheme. This poem is loosely based on an estimpida written by Raimbaut de Vaqueiras or Vaqueyras (fl. 1180 – 1207) known as “Kalenda maia” that was an exchange between a knight and his lady.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The sun never sets

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

The sun never sets on old Ealdormere
Our very old debts are already paid
The trees grow so tall, well watered with blood,
Our legends won’t fall, they walk with us still—
The Iron Duke writes secure in his home,
The mighty Earl fights with sword in each hand,
The first hare of Skreal still sits in the hall,
The fox with black tail sits tall on her horse.
And those that have gone are still in our minds
Live on in their spawn, their lineage kept,
Their hearts are held close in action and deed
Remembered in prose by poet and skald
The hall that they built we add to our selves
Do not let it tilt by adding bad wood
Each log is a deed, an action we took;
A log made of greed, or envy or spite
Could topple the hall, the log rotten through.
Do not be a thrall to low base desire
Live on my good folk, live on as a pack,
Think on what I spoke, live on like true wolf.

The Italian frottola emerged in the 14th century as a satiric, rambling verse form utilizing irregular meters and stanzas, reflecting the fact that the subject matter was usually unconnected, bizarre and sometimes senseless. They could be composed of couplets of unrhymed pentameter, heptameter or hendecasyllabic lines with internal rhyme (though some experts also believe there were blank form frottola).  In the 15th century the form became known as the frottola-barzelleta where it became a sub-species of canto carnascialesco (carnival song), set to music, following the structure of the balata grande and being octosyllabic. At the beginning of the 14th century it was used for moral instruction, but by the end of that century it had assumed artistic proportions with moral, political or satirical themes. It also made use of proverbs and witty instructional content (didacticism).

Thursday, March 24, 2016

“I find that”

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

I find that if I whine and curse
The world around me just gets worse
However if I try to change
The world around me just gets strange.

Written using the 16th century Spanish form called the folía (a 4-line stanza). The folía was a variation of the seguidilla. It is likely related to a Portuguese dance-song form which normally expressed a nonsensical or ridiculous thought. The lines may be octosyllabic or shorter. If the lines are not of equal length then the even numbered lines are generally shorter and very often oxytonic.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A poem is more than words on page

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

A poem is more than words on page—
They are our souls laid bare to see
A glimpse of joy, of pain, of rage,
A poem is more than words on page—
They teach us words of knowing sage
And ask us all to better be;
A poem is more than words on page—
They are our souls laid bare to see.

Written as a triolet which was a 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.

A wolf runs free

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

A northern wolf runs where it will,
The wolf runs free, the wolf runs wild,
It lopes past tree and up high hill,
And fights whenever it is riled.
A wolf will not be caged or held
As by the moon it is compelled

And like the wolf the people are
So fierce and proud, so bold and preaux,
From Ealdormere we travel far
And walk the lands our elders knew.
No bended knee, no kneelers we,
The northern wolf is always free.

Written using the Venus and Adonis stanza form. This stanza form, invented by Shakespeare, used six lines written in iambic pentameter and rhymed ababcc. The form takes its name from the poem where Shakespeare introduced it, Venus and Adonis (1593).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kingdom Barding

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

What noble steeds are these here,
draped in crimson and clad in trillium flowers?
From northern lands they endear
and show our majestic powers
draped in crimson and clad in trillium flowers.

Written to commemorate the kingdom barding used by TRH’s Nigel and Adrielle at Gulf Wars 2016. Written as a lira which was a shortened variation of the canción and was invented by Garcilaso de la Vega (c. 1501 – 1536). The most popular form of the lira is a quintain stanza where the second line repeats in line five and has a rhyme scheme of aBabB. The lines had either seven or eleven syllables.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

“I try to write”

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

I try to write, put pen to page—
The cat will not be silent, no,
The world outside won’t quell its rage,
And neither will it let words flow.
To make the verses brightly grow
I drown the noise in quiet thought,
And work despite the to and fro,
To find the peace in words I sought.

Written as a huitain (pronounced wit-tain), a 15th century 8-line strophe with 8-syllable lines (French) or 10-syllable lines (English). It used three rhymes with one of these appearing four times and with the same rhyme for the fourth and fifth lines. The huitain could be a stand-alone poem, or used as a unit in longer poems. Sometimes multiple poets would each supply hutains to make a longer piece.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

My love is always by my side

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

My love is always by my side,
And keeps me safe from grev’ous harm.
Her dress displays my mark of pride,
Her stately shape shows off her charm,
Forever is she on my arm.
All who see her know she’s mine:
My mark, my love, the outward sign.
Her strength ensures I never yield
And never have to bend my spine.
I love you so, my glor’ous shield.

Written as a dizain, a French poetic form from the 15th and 16th century, employing a stanza of 10-lines, using eight or ten syllables to the line, and having a specific rhyming pattern.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A horn upon his head does grow

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

A horn upon his head does grow
Each time he steps upon the field
His armour, magic, does not glow,
As tight he grips his mystic shield.

Opponents meet, the shots are thrown
It caught my sleeve! Light! Tippy! Flat!
He dances up the field and down
An undead curl, a cheat, a rat.

The skill is there but easier still
To shrug a blow, refuse to fall,
The lure of victory, titles, fill
The tin can’s heart which is so small.

What void so big, what is deprived,
To sell one’s honour for so cheap?
To sully all for which one’s strived,
To make one’s consort silent weep?

The rhino does not think these thoughts
Too caught up in the sirens’ call
Not knowing that the past is wrought
By present those who saw it all.

Respect is earned, it is not won,
Son, think on that ‘ere tourney’s done.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

O’ber Dog

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 50 (2016)

The sun sinks so low, while cold the wind blows and running through snow goes a tan hound.
She picks up a scent, her mind it is bent on prey where it went and hid to ground.

The winter ground hides in snowy dune tides where the prey abides—there is no prize.
Returns to my feet without any meat; takes a chilly seat and she sad cries.

But, joy, she leaps up—a glad, happy pup, her mind turned from sup and her distress.
Just happy to be, to run, oh so free; her face full of glee and pure gladness.

While no master piece of literature, this poem is my first attempt at writing in the Welsh awdl form called cyhydedd hir (pronounced cuh-hih’deth here). Cyhydedd hir were lines comprised of three 5-syllable sections that shared an end rhyme, followed by a 4-syllable section with a new end rhyme. The next line uses c rhymes in place of a rhymes. These internal rhymes remain within the line while the end b rhyme connects not internally but with the next line’s end rhyme.

x x x x a x x x x a x x x x a x x x b
x x x x c x x x x c x x x x c x x x b

I found it easy to write the lines by splitting each line into a stanza, and then collapsing them again once I was done.

Monday, February 29, 2016

My lady love a warrior be

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, AS 50 (2016)

For Þorfinna.

My lady love a warrior be
With mighty arm of tempered steel;
No dainty rose that withers she—
She is Athena and I kneel
To gaze in wonder at her face,
Held close in awe by beau’tous grace.

Like iron are her hard-set legs
Where she blocks the bridge’s span,
Before her beaten foeman begs
While cheers are bellowed from her clan;
Beside her I am lost in space
Held close in awe by beau’tous grace.

Her fingers deft as dancing light
They throw a blade ‘cross open field,
Strong hit within the red so bright
And I, I find that I must yield,
For I am in the greatest place,
Held close in awe by beau’tous grace.

Written as a blazon. The blazon is an ordered poem of praise, or blame, usually directed towards a woman and praised her physical features using metaphors. The genre 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). Though the term is from 16th century France, similar poems were being written by at least the 13th century.

I’ve written “My lady love a warrior be” in the same format as the famous blason “There Is a Garden in Her Face” by Thomas Campion (1567-1620). Like Campion I wrote three stanzas with a rhyme scheme of ababcC (where the C is the same line in each stanza). While blasons usually use metaphors to describe features such as hair, eyes, lips, teeth and breasts, I chose to praise my lady’s strength and compare her limbs to metals. The second stanza refers to an incident at a Pikeman’s Pleasure where, during a bridge battle, she single-handed pushed back a charge.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Pennsic Dawn

By THLaird Colyne Stewart AS 50 (2016)

He was the king of dragon lands,
She the queen of tigers,
They met upon disputed sands,
Amid the jangled spurs.
Two lines of war drawn up in arms,
They sat their horse and stared,
And felt they each the others charms,
As love within them flared.
The armies pledged to fight the morn,
For now their camps they made,
The dragon king, his squire sworn,
Took into royal shade
And gave to him a message clear
To take to tiger-fawn,
To steal out to the castle near
And meet before the dawn.

So brave and loyal squire went
Into the foeman camp,
Until he found the royal tent,
While gripping shaded lamp.
A servant maid he took aside,
And bade her message take,
And though afraid so much she cried
She did so for love’s sake.
In hushed tones she told her queen
About the message sent;
Her lady glowed, her eyes were keen,
O to her task she bent.
The queen slipped out with maid in tow,
And went to castle wall,
The maid, afraid, said not to go,
But queen drew close her shawl.
On silent feet they crept through mist
To meet the king and squire,
A chance for love could not be missed,
Among the midnight choir.
The tiger queen, the dragon king,
Beside the stone wall met,
The maid and squire heard them sing,
While watching for the threat
Of jilted king of eastern land
As dew grew on the lawn,
The squire whispered ‘hind his hand,
We must away ere dawn.

The sun slow rising in the east,
When tiger king awoke,
And found her bedding flat, uncreased,
And called out for his cloak.
The maid and squire saw the light
Of torches being lit
And warned their masters to take flight
For time had come to quit.
One bold last kiss the lovers shared
Not wishing to depart,
In eastern camp the trumpets blared,
Caused pounding in each heart.
To each their camp they went their way,
Where lines were being drawn,
The queen held tight to token grey,
In memory of that dawn.

The outraged men of tiger lands,
Mad charged across the field,
To meet the Middle warrior bands,
And clash with sword on shield.
So many fell upon that morn,
It seemed to never end,
Until the king met king, both torn,
And neither one would bend,
Until upon their swords they died,
And fell into the dirt;
The queen in grief at their side cried,
While blood soaked in her skirt.
And long that piece of thin grey cloth
Reminds her of what’s gone,
The man she loved, another’s wroth,
And kisses in the dawn.

Written as an alba, which was a genre of Old Occitan lyric poetry which depicted a pair of lovers who were lamenting the fact that they must part as the sun is rises. These lovers were usually afraid of being discovered by their respective spouses. Alba, in fact, means “sunrise”. They often contained stock characters such as the guard (gualta) who is the one that alerted the lovers that they had to part, and the jealous rival (lauzengiers).

The German minnesingers developed a similar style known as the tagelied.

Albas tended to have no fixed metrical rate. They were broken into stanzas, with each stanza usually ending with the word dawn (alba).

My alba is of a fictitious love affair between a Queen of the East and the King of the Middle. I’m not sure if most albas ended in grief, but this one just seemed destined to go there as I was working on it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


By THLaird Colyne Stewart, February AS 50 (2015)

The squire asked his knight one day
Upon the virtues true to say
On which of them would lead his way:
The knight, he answered “Faith.”

The squire frowned in dark dismay
Belief in God was not his way
Another choice he tried to sway;
The knight, he answered “Faith.”

“My squire tight attention pay
When e’er you enter into fray
Believe your sword can take the day,
For that I answered Faith.

If dark your demons you would slay,
And if your dues to me you’d pay,
Believe in you is what I say,
For that I answered Faith.”

The squire could not say him nay
And with his blood he went to pay
Belief in self he learned to say
“My knight, he answered Faith.”

Friday, February 5, 2016

"Through the mists a northern ship"

Through the mists a northern ship,
Lets oars dip in water cold,
As warriors bold their axes clasp
And rough breaths rasp in hungry throats.
In wolfen cloaks they howl loud,
Fierce and proud and free to roam
So far from home yet not afraid.
Their foes waylaid and sent to Hel
And told to tell of how they passed
From first to last upon the blades—
In forest glades—of the northmen.
A ship of ten they treasure take,
And thirst they slake, with blood and mead
As fury’s freed to wander south
While bearded mouth of mighty skald
Loudly called and told of deeds
Of planted seeds that grew so tall
They could not fall to any man.
Bezerker clan leaps into lake
And like cold drake they wade ashore
Grip axe and oar in burly hands.
They scan the lands they’ve come to reave
While Southerns leave in haste and fear
As ten draw near, the moon so bright
In fell light bloody work commences.
Riot of the senses, scent of blood,
The feel of mud and steel and flesh,
Muscles thresh, the sounds of fright
And fierce delight, panic, pain and disbelief,
And sobbing grief. Then sudden still
In morning chill as pelted wolf-men,
Now nine of ten, collect their geld
From those they felled upon their boat.
With laugh and gloat they fill their fists
As through the mists they disappear.

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