Monday, 4 July 2016

Medieval Debate Poetry

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, for the Trillium War School AS 51 (2016)

General Background Information on Debate Poetry

Various scholars have differing opinions on just what qualifies as a “true” debate poem, but for the purposes of this class a debate poem is any poem wherein two or more different points of view expound on a topic (two or three being the most common). The points of view in debate poetry are expressed by speakers which can be almost anything, including people, inanimate objects, personifications (of emotions, seasons, etc.), or religious figures. Popular pairings were the body and the soul, as well as various avians (the nightingale was used a lot). Medieval people tended to think in binary (as many people still do today), with everything having a polar opposite. This way of thinking fits the debate model very well. If there was a third voice it was often a judge who had been invoked to choose a winner of the debate.

Debate poetry has its roots in the Greek and Roman eclogue. Eclogues were short passages of any genre, including longer poetic works. Ancient writers such as Theocritus (3rd century BCE), Virgil, Ovid, Nemesianus, Calpurnius Siculus all wrote eclogues that would have been available to medieval readers.

Debate poems first appeared in Medieval European literature in the 8th and 9th centuries during the Carolingian Renassaince but reached the height of their popularity from the 12th to the 16th.

Debate poems were written in Latin to begin with. However, in the 13th century they began to appear in several vernacular languages including English, French, Italian and German.

The subject of love in these debates was very popular from the 12th to 15th centuries. Other topics will be discussed below.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Writing a Leich

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 49 (2015)

Wanting to write a poem about my squire-brother, HE Berend van der Eych, I first wanted to choose a proper genre. Berend, having a Dutch persona, would have grown up hearing the work of the minnesingers. I therefore chose to go with German poetics and settled on the priamel as my genre. Priamel were a type of German poem that threw around a lot of seemingly unrelated ideas until tying them together at the end. So the lines of this priamel throw out a lot of details about different stuff, but in the end we learn that it is all stuff that Berend has done.

While the genre of the poem is the priamel, the form I used is called leich. The leich was a lyric form, similar to the French descort, which was widely used between circa 1200 and 1350. Poems written as a leich were designed to be sung. It could use irregular stanza forms and could be non-repetitive (or it could use a standard stanza form and repeat verses). Regardless of its regularity or irregularity of stanzic form, it was isostrophic (which meant all stanzas conform to the first stanza). They generally had a lot of short rhyming units and could use different types of rhyme.

So I built a stanza form of two 8-syllable lines, followed by two lines of 7-syllables, two lines of 6-syllables, and ending with a line of 10-syllables. This is not a standard stanza form; I wanted to be able to enjoy the freedom of having the option of having an irregular stanza form. Due to the irregular line lengths I did not settle on any specific meter. The lines were rhyming couplets (AABBCC) while the last line (D) would rhyme with the last lines of the following stanzas. I decided to go with four stanzas, and split them equally in half (so two stanzas per half). I did include a little tiny bit of repetition by having the first three 10-syllable lines start with the same word (which I also decided to render in capital letters). I mainly used end-rhyme, though there is some alliteration in there too.

A knife so sharp it cuts the sun,
Bright glinting on the helmet done,
The hound baying at his heel,
The forks forged from shining steel,
Acorns grow in a field,
Rodent spread on his shield,
AND in his harness ventures forth to fight;
Soap he renders out of the fat,
Pounding rivets, pummeled, hammered flat,
The quill held in calloused hand,
Letters wrought, the small, the grand,
Mixing ink in white shell,
Pounding on training pell,
AND learning values from his worthy knight.

Reading all books that come to hand,
Behind the thrones of Royals stands,
Carves the meat in feasting hall,
Fearing not the weather’s squall,
Brewing beer, and sweet wine,
Walking through both oak, pine,
AND aids his squire-brothers as he can;
Teaching both in hall and the field,
His worth of measure well revealed,
Cooking over pit of fire,
Being knightly he ‘spires,
All these works by one soul,
Done not for writ or scroll,
THESE are the things that make a mighty man.



Writing a Shakespearean Sonnet

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

An early 16th century form, introduced and developed by other poets, but made most famous by Shakespeare. It consists of fourteen lines structured as three quatrains and a couplet. The third quatrain usually introduces an unexpected thematic twist (volta). In the sonnets written by Shakespeare the volta usually comes in the couplet and usually summarizes the theme of the poem or introduces a new look at the theme. The meter is almost always iambic pentameter. The usual rhyme scheme is abab, cdcd, efef, gg.

For my sonnet I decided to write about my belt-sister, HE Mahault of Swynford. Specifically, I wanted to talk about the wide and diverse service she has rendered to her kingdom over the years. Therefore, I decided to compare the kingdom to a grand hall, and talk about how her service had helped build it.

The pillars of the grandest house are built,
By deeds both great and small the bricks are laid,
And with hard work the walls and floors are gilt,
With blood and sweat the mighty mansion’s made.

In the second quatrain I compared her to the Roman goddess of abundance and prosperity and make mention of the hardships she has had to overcome.

The mason is Abundantia on earth,
Her toils in both hall and field are great,
Long laboured maiden held in deepest worth,
Who does not fear the fight with fickle fate.

My volta came in the third quatrain, where I switch perspective and talk about her willingness to express her heart, even if that opinion may be unpopular, and her propensity to champion the accomplishments of others. I again invoked a Roman goddess, this time one of forgiveness.

Clementia forgive her forthright voice,
Which rises in defense of those struck mute,
To honest live, herself to be, her choice,
Who can then dare to bold denounce her route?

For my closing couplet I went with a dedication.

So do I grace her gifting words I penned,
To sister, mentor, and my closest friend.

As a title I settled on Crossing for two reasons. The first is that her byname Swynford means “swine ford” (which is a crossing). It also refers to the people who have denounced her route over the years.

The final poem read as follows:


Crossings
Also for Mahault
By THLaird Colyne Stewart, February AS 49 (2015)

The pillars of the grandest house are built,
By deeds both great and small the bricks are laid,
And with hard work the walls and floors are gilt,
With blood and sweat the mighty mansion’s made.

The mason is Abundantia on earth,
Her toils in both hall and field are great,
Long laboured maiden held in deepest worth,
Who does not fear the fight with fickle fate.

Clementia forgive her forthright voice,
Which rises in defense of those struck mute,
To honest live, herself to be, her choice,
Who can then dare to bold denounce her route?

So do I grace her gifting words I penned,
To sister, mentor, and my closest friend.




Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Storytelling: The Art of Oral Recitation

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, March AS 49 (2015)

This article is to examine the art of storytelling within the SCA. It will strongly be coloured by my own experiences and exposure within (and outside) the Society, but I have tried to make it as broad as possible. The author is also thankful for the input of Kitta Mjoksiglandi in the writing of this article.

There are many aspects of storytelling this article could explore: how to write a story, how stories were told in period, how to tell a story, and so on. I think that is too much to try and cover in one article, so I will instead focus on one of those topics—namely, the act of reciting a story to an audience.

STORIES

Want to know how to find stories and where to tell them? Then read on!

Finding stories to tell (and giving proper credit)

As a storyteller, one of the first things you’re going to need to do is—of course—build a repertoire of stories. Where, you may ask, would one find such stories to tell? There are various places to go to find material to recite.

Firstly, there are period sources. Since we are a medieval re-enactment group, it only makes sense to learn to recite the same tales that may have been told in period. You can find these stories in various medieval books that are quite often freely available online. Duke Cariadoc of the Bow has compiled a great list of period sources in his article “In-persona Storytelling” (which is included in the Links below). As well as telling these invented tales, you could teach your audience bits of history by telling them about the Battle of Stirling Bridge, or the sack of Constantinople.

You could also learn stories that have been written by modern day bards within the SCA (or other re-enactment groups). Many bards have shared their stories online. However, when telling a tale written by someone else, it is only courteous to give that author credit. Though I doubt in period if a minstrel would bother giving credit for the song he just sung, in our modern world it is only polite to do. Also, when telling a story by an extant contemporary, you should try to stick to the original words as closely as possible.

Another option is to write your own material. You could write a story based on the exploits of someone you know, or write a fable, or mythologize your home group…the possibilities are quite endless. When writing your own story to tell you also have the option of making it as modern or as period in form as you desire.

What to tell when

Not all stories are appropriate at all times. A bawdy tale is great for around a rowdy campfire, but not necessarily apt for a dignified feast. Likewise, you may be at an in-persona circle that would not be so welcoming to a “no sh@t, there I was” type story. It is always important to gauge the crowd, see how they are reacting to the other performers, and use that information to help you choose what tale to tell. If the circle is fast-paced and lively, you may not want to tell a long, slow story (you may want to save that for a more sedate circle).

Where to tell your tales

When people think of bards performing in the SCA, often the first image that comes to mind is of the bardic circle around a campfire. And while this is indeed an excellent place to tell a story, it is far from the only available venue. The feast hall offers different options for the telling of a tale. You could tell a story to the entire hall, or to an individual table, or you could entertain the servers in-between removes.

You could also tell a tale during court (though this should only be done at the invitation of the Royalty or Nobility holding said court). At a camping event you could wander the site telling short stories to passersby.

TECHNIQUES

There are several techniques you can use when telling stories to make the act more enjoyable for both you and your audience. These techniques may not necessarily all be period, but they are useful tools for the modern or re-enactment storyteller regardless.

Repetition

One of the techniques I have come across in a lot of stories from many different cultures is that of repetition. That repetition can be used a few different ways. One way is to have a refrain that is used every so often. For instance, Dame TSivia bas Tamara v’Amberview has been telling “the camel story” since the 1970s, which relies on the refrain

And the winds blow a ' back and forth. And a ' baaaack...and forth.

Another is to construct the story in such a way that incidents repeat (usually in threes). For instance, I once read a Native story where the hero encounters three animals who need his help. He aids each one, and in turn receives a gift. He then faces three trials which he overcomes using the three gifts (using each one in the order in which he received them).

Repetition aids in recall, so working repetitive elements into your story will help your audience remember what is going on, and will help them remember the tale after you are done the telling.

For more on repetition in story telling, see Martin Shaw’s article on the subject in the links section.

Keep it brief (at least at first)

Something that storytellers struggle with constantly is trying to figure out how long their stories should be. The answer is highly variable. If you are just starting out, I always suggest that shorter is better. If you are going to be telling stories for the first time you are better off aiming for something under five minutes in length. Though stories can be much longer, I have seen storytellers kill a bardic circle by telling a lengthy tale that no one was interested in hearing. As mentioned earlier, you need to read your crowd, and if you are still learning how to do that, brevity is your ally. Shorter stories are also useful for telling in situations where you do not have a lot of time (such as the kind of stories Duke Cariadoc of the Bow tells to servers while they pause between removes).

Here’s an example of a short tale I told at a circle in honour of a Calontiri guest:

At our first Pennsic War, my wife and I were at a merchant’s when a column of Calontiri warriors trudged by. They were dragging their weapons and singing what sounded like a dirge. I remarked to the merchant that our side must have lost, as my kingdom was allied with Calontir. “No,” said the merchant, “you won. Those are happy Calontiri.”

Gestures and pacing

Many storytellers make use of hand gestures and moving around their space while telling a tale, but storytellers are by no means unanimous on whether this should be done, or, if it is, just how much it should be done.

While pacing around and moving your hands can draw emphasis to what you are saying, it can also distract from the story. Master Fridrikr Tomasson is quite capable of keeping a hall enthralled with just the power of his words, but other storytellers may find it difficult to obtain that same level of rapt attention without using their body. As always, you should do what feels natural to you.

Just remember, if you do use hand and body movement during your tellings, do not let them detract from the tale itself. If you spend too long orchestrating and practicing your movements, it will end up detracting from your story. Your telling will not seem organic but rehearsed.

Don’t get fixated on details

Unless you are telling a fellow bards work, do not try to memorize the story you are telling. If you try to remember every little detail you may find yourself forgetting them and become flustered during the telling. I is better to learn the story in a kind of point form in your mind, which you can elaborate on as you wish during the telling. For instance remembering that the hero was wearing a purple shirt when the colour has no bearing on anything is a detail that you don’t need to learn. For instance, let’s look at this short story I once wrote:

It was on an unusually warm winter day that members of Ardchreag’s populace traveled to the canton of Skeldergate, to the inn owned by Berus Jarl and his Lady, Countess Marion. Upon arriving we found tables laid and awaiting us, while the appetizing smells of meat on a stick wafted from the kitchens where Streonwald and Etian could be heard bellowing. We claimed a table in front of the Thrones of Ealdormere, spreading out our crafts and gear. Berend worked on his tablet woven belt, while Eirik and Colyne poured over notes. Thorfinna disappeared into the vault of children where she was later found happily colouring.

As I returned from the merchants, my arms laden with goods, I heard the sounds of commotion. A fight had broken out! I ran to my table to find some of my companions under attack! Eirik and Wulfgang were in the centre of a swarm of ruffians, brandishing axes and swords. I made a move to join them, then saw that there was no need. Eirik is quite handy with a blade, and was cutting down his foes with impunity. Wulfgang, finding himself pressed by a huge man bearing a bar stool in has hands, proceeded to chase his assailant about the hall, before finally chopping him to the floor.

When it was over, when the tables had been righted, the blood cleaned, and the ale pored, an exhausted but beaming Wulfgang sat at our table.

“Did you see me?” he asked. “Did you see me chase that guy?”

We responded yes. Then we added that his attacker had been no mere ‘guy’.

“Who was it?” he asked.

“Berus,” we said.

His jaw dropped.

“The Kingdom Earl Marshal,” we went on.

The jaw dropped lower.

“Sir Berus,” we added.

All present then laughed long and hard at the expression on the face of a man who is usually jokingly referred to as a man who has none.

I just wonder, once Wulfgang has all his armour together, and first walks onto the lists, will Berus remember him?

The only relevant facts that you need to remember to tell this tale are:

  • The protagonist went to an event with someone named Wulfgang
  • Wulfgang took part in a boffer battle
  • Wulfgang chased around someone on the field and was quite pleased with himself
  • Wulfgang was completely shocked to find out it had been the kingdom’s earl  marshal (and a knight to boot)

Don’t worry if your story is different every time you tell it

As mentioned above, you don’t need to memorize every little detail, which means your story will end up different every time you tell it. That’s fine. In fact, many storytellers will reshape their story to better fit the situation they are in or the audience they are telling it to. For instance, while your story about a certain count getting wasted and running around naked on the battlefield until he runs into the queen may be appropriate for an adult’s only fire, its not so appropriate to tell in the marketplace with children listening…unless you change the details. So, instead of being drunk, the count is merely acting silly but still feels embarrassed for his behaviour before his queen.

Plus, variation is the spice of life. Your audiences will merge over time, but even if certain listeners have heard all your stories before, they will still seem fresh and interesting if they know all the details won’t be the same every time they hear them.

If you make a mistake, keep going

Mistakes happen, and one of the worst things a performer can do when they make one is to pause and admit it. If you make a mistake, just keep going. Most of the time your audience will not even know you got anything wrong. If you find you left out something intrinsic to the plot, you can work it back in at a different point. If you forgot to mention that your hero was supposed to find a sword back in the castle, have a squire appear and give the sword to the hero later.

Involve your audience

One way to keep your audience’s attention is to get them involved in the story. An easy method to do this is by taking advantage of having a repeated refrain, and having the audience say it with you. They will soon be waiting eagerly for your cues telling them they get to say it again.

Incorporating songs or poems

If you want, and if it fits in with your story, you can incorporate songs or poems into your telling. These could be used as refrains and a way to involve your audience. This would be especially appropriate if you are telling a Norse story, as people in the sagas often recited short poems. The only caveat I would suggest is to keep these bits short and to the point.

Telling a story while in persona

Rather than telling a story as yourself, you can tell it from the point of view of your persona. This adds a certain verisimilitude to your performance and is a great technique to use at period-only circles. Things to keep in mind are what stories would your persona know, and how would someone from your time and place tell a story? As mentioned before, a link to Duke Cariadoc’s article on this subject is included below.

Props (doll, puppets, talking sticks)

While the use of props is almost certainly not a technique used by period storytellers, it is a very useful modern tool (especially when telling stories to children). Dolls or puppets can be used to act out the story, or even tell the story with (or instead of) the storyteller. The talking stick (or conch shell or other item) can be used to pass from person to person, signifying whose turn it is to speak. These props can also be used as mnemonic devices, helping your audience remember certain details by associating them with specific props.

Signature beginning and/or ending

One last technique I’ll touch on is using a specific opening and or/closing to your stories, which are unique to you. When your audience hears it they will come to recognize it and it will help place  them in a receptive state of mind. Possible openings are “I saw it with my own eyes” or “when the world was young” while a possible ending could be “and for all I know they are fighting/dancing/singing/eating/etc still.”

LINKS

Links: Storytelling (general)

Effective Storytelling: A Guide for Beginners, http://www.eldrbarry.net/roos/eest.htm


Tim Shepherd’s Storytelling Resources for Storytellers, http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/

Links: Period Storytelling

Medieval Storytelling: Engaging the Next Generation, http://medievalstorytelling.co.uk/






Links: SCA



THLaird Colyne Stewart is a student of the written word. He is the Curator of the Atheneaum Hectoris, the Precentor of the Scriptorium, the Royal Historian of Ealdormere, the Baronial Historian of Septentria, a chronicler and a member of the Bardic College of Ealdormere. He is a past Bard of Septentria and one of the founders of the now defunct Septentrian Performing Arts Troupe. In the modern world he holds a degree in English and Creative Writing and has studied writing, storytelling and folklore.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Writing a Ballade (Non-musical)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, AS 49 (2015)

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).

When writing my ballade one of the first things I did was settle on a meter. I went with iambic octosyllabic lines. I then wrote the refrain. I was dedicating this ballade to Duchess Adrielle Kerrec, so I wanted something that summed her up for me:

The heart, the soul, of Ealdormere.

In the first stanza I wrote about her service

So bright the deeds of northern maid,
The duchess bold her works well done,

as well as her well earned reputation for shenanigans and skill at the game of Tablero

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,

and ended with the refrain line. In the second stanza I switched focus to look at her former position as Baroness of Septentria

On noble ground her feet have laid,
Her realm the lands Septentrian,

as well as her martial activities (both fighting and equestrian)

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,

ending again with the refrain line. In the third stanza I switched focus again, this time to her skills n the arts and sciences

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,

again ending with the refrain line.

For the envoi, I made a plea to unnamed princes to listen to my praise of someone who I find truly inspiring

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.

In the end, the poem looked like this:

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.

Sources

Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford University Press, New York, 1990.

Cushman, Stephen, ed. Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th edition. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2012.

Fischer, Todd H. C. “Medieval Poetic Forms, Genres and Devices,” 2015.

Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature, Seventh Edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1996.

Hirsch, Edward. A Poet’s Glossary. Houghton Mifflin Publishing, New York, 2014.

Kupier, Kathleen, ed. Mirriam Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature. Mirriam Webster, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1995.

Kupier, Kathleen, ed. Poetry and Drama: Literary Terms and Concepts. Britannica Educational Publishing, New York, 2012.

Myers, Jack and Don Wukasch. Dictionary of Poetic Terms. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, 2003.

Preminger, Alex, ed. Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1974.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Writing a Virelai

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, MArch AS 49 (2015)

One of the formes fixes, the virelai was often used in poetry and music (it was, in fact, one of the most common verse forms set to music from the 13th to the 15th centuries). However, by the mid 15th century the virelai was no longer usually set to music.

If a virelai only had one stanza it was known as a bergerette.

Virelai written as songs in the 14th and 15 centuries had three stanzas and a refrain that is stated before the first stanza and again after each one. Within each stanza the structure used is the bar form. Within this overall structure, the number of lines and the rhyme scheme varied. The refrain and the abgesang (part of the bar form) could be three, four or five lines each, with rhyme schemes such as aba, abab, aaab, abba, aaab or aabba. The structure often involved an alternation of longer and shorter lines. Usually, all three stanzas shared the same set of rhymes (which means the whole poem could be built on just two rhymes).

In the 15th century, when the virelai was no longer always set to music, its structure varied widely. Two of these variants (which weren’t defined until the 17th century) are detailed below.

The virelai ancient had no refrain. It used an interlocking rhyme scheme between the stanzas. In the first stanza the rhyme scheme is aabaabaab (with the b lines being shorter in length). In the second stanza the b rhymes are shifted to the longer lines and a new c rhyme is introduced on the shorter ones (bbcbbcbbc).

The virelai nouveau had a 2-line refrain at the beginning, with each stanza ending with a repetition of either the first or the second refrain verse in alternation, and the last stanza ending in both refrain verses in reversed order.

When I wrote the following virelai (called “MacFarlane”) I decided to use the virelai ancient form. I also resolved to try to keep the meter in iambic meter. As is usual for me, the first thing I wrote was the first line:

A shield, a sword, an axe, a lance,

I then came up with a list of words that could rhyme with lance, to make sure I could incorporate them into the theme (which was a praise poem for my knight, Sir Nigel MacFarlane). I was pleased with the words I came up with, as each could easily be incorporated into describing Sir Nigel. So for the second line I went with:

He takes with him to melee’s dance,

The following line was the first short line of the poem. It was also the first b rhyme, so I needed a rhyme rich word to end the line on (as the b rhyme continues into the second stanza). Nigel is known for his kit, so I called attention to it:

Upon his head his crest;

The following two line refer to his role in the Battle of the Thirty at Pennsic (where he is often the captain of the French side), and to his famous glare (also known as his ‘stink-eye’):

In tourney leads the folk of France,
In war he’s known for piercing glance,

In the sixth line I make reference to the heraldry of his household (House Arrochar) which includes a mullet (star) over his heart. This mullet represent his lady, Duchess Adrielle Kerrec, and ties into the last line of the poem:

And the star upon his chest;

I then spend two lines describing his skill at arms and his dedication to his kingdom, while in the last line of the first stanza I again call out to his lady:

In battle preaux, leaves naught to chance,
To brave protect the northern manse,
Love beats within his breast.

Now starting the second stanza, the b rhymes replace the a rhymes, while a new c rhyme replaces the b rhymes. In the first two line I again make reference to his determination and his fine kit:

On virtue’s anvil he would test,
While in fine raimments he is dressed,

In the third line I introduced the new c rhyme. To come up with the c rhyme I actually wrote the last line of the poem first:

All for his Adrielle.

Knowing where I wanted to end, allowed me to finish the first c rhymed line (taking a bit of poetic license with the first word in the line):

Dischivalry his hell;

In the following two line, while again referencing his skill at arms, I point out that he does win victory for himself, but for his teammates:


From the jaw of lose he’ll wrest
Victory for the sorely pressed,

I then point out that there are even more virtues I could praise in Sir Nigel:

And yet more I could tell;

The last three lines are dedicated to Adrielle, his inspiration in all things:

He clutches favour she has blessed,
Which drives him to his very best,
All for his Adrielle.

So in the end, the poem read:

A shield, a sword, an axe, a lance,
He takes with him to melee’s dance,
Upon his head his crest;
In tourney leads the folk of France,
In war he’s known for piercing glance,
And the star upon his chest;
In battle preaux, leaves naught to chance,
To brave protect the northern manse,
Love beats within his breast.

On virtue’s anvil he would test,
While in fine raimments he is dressed,
Dischivalry his hell;
From the jaw of lose he’ll wrest
Victory for the sorely pressed,
And yet more I could tell;
He clutches favour she has blessed,
Which drives him to his very best,
All for his Adrielle.


Sources

Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford University Press, New York, 1990.

Cushman, Stephen, ed. Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th edition. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2012.

Fischer, Todd H. C. “Medieval Poetic Forms, Genres and Devices,” 2015.

Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature, Seventh Edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1996.

Hirsch, Edward. A Poet’s Glossary. Houghton Mifflin Publishing, New York, 2014.

Kupier, Kathleen, ed. Mirriam Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature. Mirriam Webster, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1995.

Kupier, Kathleen, ed. Poetry and Drama: Literary Terms and Concepts. Britannica Educational Publishing, New York, 2012.

Myers, Jack and Don Wukasch. Dictionary of Poetic Terms. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, 2003.

Preminger, Alex, ed. Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1974.


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Writing a Triolet

By THLaird Colyne Stewart, AS 49 (2015)

At Winter War in March AS 49, HRH Steinnar of Ealdormere made known his wish to fence with as many of the kingdoms fencers as possible. I wanted to write something to commemorate that moment and settles on the triolet.

The triolet 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.

I first needed to settle on what my A and B lines would be. Since they would repeat, and form both the opening and closing of the poem they needed to be strong and meaningful.

For the A line I choose:

The heir alone with sword in hand

This identifies the poem’s focal point (the Heir) and makes note of the fact that as of yet he stands alone.

For the B line I identify exactly what he is waiting for:

Awaits to fight with rapier bold

From there it was simply a matter of filling in the remaining lines. For the third line I choose to explicitly state who it was the Heir wanted to face in battle:

Contestants from across the land.

The fourth line then repeated the first line. For the fifth line I reiterated the Heir’s desire, and used the sixth line to remark on his character:

Will glad cross blades on field and sand
And in his heart bright valour hold.

The seventh and eighth lines then repeated the first and second lines. So what I ended up with was:

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.

Sources

Fischer, Todd H. C., “Medieval Poetic Forms, Genres and Devices”, 2015.

Geller, Conrad, “Poetic Forms: The Triolet”, http://www.writing-world.com/poetry/triolet.shtml