Monday, February 29, 2016

My lady love a warrior be

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, AS 50 (2016)

For ├×orfinna.

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.