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.