Despite the blog apparently having been taken over by other arts...
During Pennsic, our baroness posted to Facebook that she was so proud when a bystander remarked that "Storvik is fighting like gods!" The phrase had a good cadence, so I wrote a song...
Fighting Like Gods
Like thunder rolls down from the mountains So roll brave Storvik's squads Over the foe, onward to triumph Storvik is fighting like gods!
Chorus: Odin's sons, lift up your spears Valkyries, raise up your shield Make battle like Thor, feed ravens like Tyr Gods of the battlefield
Swift through the woods, prowling like Fenris Like Heimdall, they guard well the bridge Sailing Hringhrori, boasting with Baldur On the field, they won't give an inch
Well, the baron was well pleased, and asked for some more songs praising other folk in Storvik.
Trivia: In setting the tune for this, the chorus was driving me mad. I felt certain that I'd "borrowed" a tune from something, but could not for the life of me place it. My husband identified it: "The Horn of the Hunter," (albeit on fast forward) which is something that he sings, but I don't. Evidently I'd heard it enough from him that the tune seeped into my brain, but nothing else about it.
Stout Hearts of Storvik
The kitchen’s out of ice and the parking lot is mud The rain’s got in the privies and we think that they may flood We’re running out of propane and we don’t know what it costs The site is hard to find and the king has gotten lost
Chorus: Stand up, you stout hearts of Storvik Who answer the barony’s call Stand up, you stout hearts of Storvik Our heroes of field and of hall
A store-run for the ice, and propane for the grill You make it a donation if we can’t afford the bill Putting up the signs, directing all the cars As wet as if you’d been to sea, a-sailing the drekkar
(Interlude to recognize the volunteers)
With your time and with your money, but especially with your work You keep the Known World turning, while the rest of us just shirk My brothers and my sisters, it’s time to lend a hand So when next you hear this song, you’ll know that you can stand ----
There's one for the A&S folks, too, although I'm still polishing it over and developing the tune. The chorus is good, but some of the verses haven't been worked over. This one, I have to fight the urge to steal the verse tune from "Worms of the Earth."
Do You Have Dwarves in Storvik?
Heroes arrive in our lands Desperate questers all Setting their foot to our strand Raising their voices they call --
Chorus A: Do you have dwarves in Storvik? Craftsmen fit for the gods? We’ve heard of goods made with skills That the rest of the world has forgot
Garments as fine as bright Freyja’s, That gives to its wearer hawk’s wings Runes that are scribed with Odin’s skill A feast-hall and mead fit for kings
Leather turned like Vidar’s shoes Is the armor from Weyland the Smith? This weaving is done with Frigg’s distaff These things come straight out of myth
We laugh and we seat them at table And ply them with bright foaming mead And show them the things that we’re able To do or to make when there’s need
For there are no dwarves in Storvik Our artists are women and men Our knowledge is wide, our treasures are fine, And no craft surpasses our ken
By Lady Teleri the Well-Prepared, at the behest of Lady Deirdre O’Bardon, Poeta Atlantiae. A poem on the themes of cooking, feasting and entertainment, in the style of the Wandering Scholars, on the occasion of the Trial by Fire in June 2014.
In the feast hall, we make merry As the cooks are getting weary We call with cheer For meat and beer Finished with a tart of cherries
Sitting in good company Night is lit with bonhomie And food so fine A meal, divine Tempting all to gluttony
Dishes always new and varied Fish and fowl and egg and dairy It all goes out On time, no doubt Platters heavy servants carry
Candles in the dark are shining Voices raised in song combining I say to thee That’s where I’ll be In our feast hall, gladly dining.
This is very very loosely based on the Golliardic poems of the 11th-13th centuries. These poems, written by the rising clerical class coming out of the universities, covered many topics: moralizing or satirical verses, love lyrics, dramas, and songs of drinking and gambling. The most famous manuscript associated with the Golliards is the Codex Buranus, a 13th century manuscript containing poems from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries in both Latin and German. The manuscript was discovered in the mid-19th century, and in 1935, a very small portion of the poems were set to modern music by Carl Orff as the famous “Carmina Burana.”
The poems are of no fixed form. Later in period, poetic templates develop - virelai, rondeau, sonnet, many more - that dictate the meter and rhyme scheme. At this time, however, it was common for a poet to determine their own form for a stanza. As these were songs, the general form of the first stanza would usually be repeated.
A quick reading of some of the poems, in Latin and in English translations meant to scan as the originals, reveals a lot of feminine rhyme on longer lines, with half-lines ending in masculine rhyme interspersed. Some variation in line length and rhyme type seemed to me (again, at first reading) to be more common than, say, octosyllabic rhyming couplets. So I took for my stanza form AABBA, where the A’s were feminine rhymes and the B’s were masculine.
I even managed to keep the A’s the same for two stanzas - I’ve noticed in the past that Romance language poetry often keeps a rhyme for an entire poem at a time, although I don’t know how common that is in the Golliardic poems. I took the “-ery” rhyme from the first stanza and placed it in the third as well. I wanted to sort of “spread it out” over the poem, rather than put it into the first and second stanzas, to give the whole thing a more coherent feel.
I did use approximate rhyme in a few places, because feminine rhyme is hard! [Stanza 1, cherries; Stanza 2, company/bonhomie/gluttony; Stanza 3, varied.]
The meter got borked in Stanza 2. The three syllable rhyme words (company/bonhomie/gluttony) throw everything off. I could either pad the front of the line with unstresses to get eight syllables per line (my first draft), but on rewrite, I let a syllable drop and started the line with a stress instead. The missing syllable is an unstress at the end of the line, and in recitation, I don’t think it’s missed. (Those words are all spoken in a falling cadence: COMpany, BONhomie, GLUTtony. So they fit the general character of a feminine rhyme, but do so while shorting the line by a syllable. Weird, huh?) Changing from trochaic to iambic was definitely more jarring, when read aloud, than just letting the eighth syllable silently disappear.
Theme-wise, the Golliards had many poems devoted to the joys of the tavern. I’ve turned it ‘round to apply to the joys of the SCA feast hall, which are similar but not the same. They seemed to be more concerned with praising wine than food, but a comic song about a roast swan demonstrates at least some attention paid to good eats.
NB: In Stanza 3, Servants are carrying heavy platters; platters are not carried by heavy servants. My husband suggests a reword to "Heavy platters, servants carry" but I kinda like the internal rhyme...
Symonds, John Addington. "Wine, women and song: mediaeval students' songs now first translated into verse."
I have the 1964(?) edition in hardback, but the book dates from the 1880s and is available online:
Parlett, David. "David Parlett's Carmina Burana." 2002. Guy who wrote the above has a website with some commentary. Page includes the Latin along with the translation, so I could see some of the original Latin rhymes happening.
Included here as a resource for those wanting to dig farther into the Golliardic poems. The Codex Buranus doesn't record much in the way of music, but some of the songs in it are preserved in other places where they *do* survive with music, and some CDs have been made. I'll probably have a listen to them to get ideas for setting this piece to music.
This also didn't really inform the poem, but I thought it was interesting. This website tried to make some sense of the musical squiggles, and pretty much concluded that the musical structure fits the poetic structure in the way we would expect it to:
A poem written at the behest of Lady Deirdre O'Bardon, Poeta Atlantiae, on the theme of 'winning a crown,' on the occasion of the Spring Crown Tournament in April 2014.
Woe to the English William has conquered
The Normans come with knife-edged pain
Plunder and pillage; our patronage lost
Fenland abbot from France will come
Hereward, Hero high-born brave man
He was in exile when Hastings was lost
Now returned home unhappy man
Isle of Ely eels swim around it
Protecting raiders right-thinking men
Following Hereward to fight Normans
A terrible deed do, the men must
The monks all robbed the minster sacked
Stolen, church gold - no, saved from Normans!
Hoarded in swamp Held by true men
In trust of that day when deliverance comes
Invaders fought, foul abbot deposed
An English king come again to throne
The monks, out of fear those meek men all
Will not open gate entrance deny them
But Hereward comes on high, sword held
Brand, too, of fire bright flames in the night
Force open the gate Enter the minster
Rich were these monks much gold for God
Altars, crosses chalices, robes fine
Embroidered in gold by English nuns
Atop the high rood radiance spies he
The good gold shines gleams in the darkness
For Christ is crowned this King of Kings
Finest treasure taken by Hereward
He scales the cross; he climbs the rood
He kisses the wounds careful, reverent
The crown, he lifts lips whispering prayer
Purloins riches then plunges to earth
To fen he goes all his men follow
Sleep is uneasy Saint Peter appears
Patron of abbey plundered of late
“Woe to you, sinner!” the saint said loud
“Taking the treasures been given to God.”
“Not for me taken! From Normans, they’re saved.”
“So, do you think Theign of All Men
God Most Mighty must have your aid?
Go put it back! God will protect it.
All golden crowns of kings are His
Their duty to rule righteously reign well
Reflecting His will, with faith and love.”
“But bad king is bastard William!”
“To no earthly judge but to Jesus alone
Will men answer for mischief they’ve done
Put back the gold, give to the abbey
The crown is not yours To keep as you like”
So Hereward bowed bent to saint’s will Crown and treasure returned at sun’s rise As God commands, so goes the crown. Good king remembers, he governs with care Kingdom of Heaven creates in his realm At ease, his heart when heavenward goes Duty finished and done with love His crown returned to King on High
Hereward was, as far as we can tell, a real Saxon outlaw. He was Robin Hood before Robin Hood was Robin Hood. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Manuscript E, kept at the Peterborough Abbey) mentions his 11th century raid, as does the 12th century* prose history of his life, Gesta Herewardi. The Chronicle specifically mentions that he and his raiders took the votive crown off of the crucifix, among other treasures, and that the raiders said that they acted “from their attachment to the minster” - for their love of the abbey, which was to be put under the authority of Turold, a Norman. Hereward and his men don’t get treated too well by the Chronicle, ignoring the monks’ cries for peace and burning everything. Their loot is subsequently carried off by their Danish allies and lost.
Unsurprisingly, the Gesta Herewardi puts a more complimentary spin on things for the hero. Although the monastery is indeed raided, St. Peter, its patron, appears to Hereward that night and scolds him, telling him to return the treasures. Hereward immediately does so.
Since “and then this guy stole a crown” didn’t seem like a compelling poetic theme, I elected to go with the more moralizing second version, to write a didactic piece enjoining those who have crowns to wear them in a compassionate and kindly manner. The overt religiosity is unusual for the SCA, but it wouldn’t be for the period.
*Historians (Swanton et al) believe it was written in the 12th century, but it only survives in a 13th century manuscript compilation.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Online at http://omacl.org/Anglo/ based on text of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Everyman Press, London, 1912. This electronic edition was edited, proofed, and prepared by Douglas B. Killings (DeTroyes@AOL.COM), July 1996.
This edition of the Chronicle mostly follows the A manuscript, but contains additional information from other copies of the Chronicle, including the monastery raid found only in MS E.
“Hereward the Wake,” trans. Michael Swanton, in Robin Hood and Other Outlaw Tales, Stephen Knight and Thomas Ohlgren, eds. Medieval Institute Publications: Kalamazoo, MI, 1997.
Conveniently online at http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/publication/knight-and-ohlgren-robin-hood-and-other-outlaw-tales although I do have the text.
Sometimes, I sell myself short when it comes to determining the difficulty of creating a performance. "Oh, it's not hard. I read a period story, play with it a little, and tell it in my own words."
Yah. Well. I reread my two main sources for 'The Tale of Guðrún' today, and was suprised at some of the ways it varied from the story as I now tell it. And when I thought about it, I could see that in 80-90% of the cases, the changes I had made specifically served the slightly different point of view and narrative goal that I had chosen. (A little bit here and there was oversight, small details I'd forgotten.)
And hey. I actually had a few different motifs running through the piece, some purposeful repetitions and callbacks, and an honest-to-goodness artistic purpose. Sometimes, I'm writing to spec: write a song about this theme, use that form, those images, turn the crank and go. This actually fits with the broader themes of... hey wait, I already wrote that post under 'Performance-Based Research.' Okay, never mind. Moving on.
I've put the beat analysis under a cut, because it's a wall of text. I'm even going to go into the HTML and try to put in the lj-cut.
Saturday was Storvik Performer's Revel, and on a lark I debuted 'The Tale of Guthrun' - a prose recitation of her story that I hashed out in the car on the way over. I was able to incorporate a good number of call backs to the poetry ('as greater than other men as the leek is greater than the grass,' etc) and it got a really good reception! I had opened by saying that I don't normally do storytelling, and when I finished, someone said, "You should do it more often."
Yesterday, I also tried telling the tale with my harp in my hands. Mostly open fifths, home and away, with pauses in the tale for longer melodic riffs. I think it worked pretty well! I'll try lyre next.
There's so much I like in parts of the Second Lay of Guthrun and the Atlikvitha that I'm looking at smooshing them together. The Second Lay is told in the first person (in Guthrun's voice - and that's so perfect for me), so I'll need to tinker with the Atlikvitha passages. All the bits that take place in Burgundy can get cut, but I need to put something in about her and the ring with the wolf's hair.
I need to reaaaaaally think about the climax. As it is currently, the listener is, like Atli, kept in the dark about the "young game" being served until it is too late. That's very effective, but does it explore the themes I said I wanted to explore?