Well, I certainly waited until the last few days of this month to get out an issue of the Roundtable, huh? Still, we all know it’s been one heck of a month with so many House Corvus members traveling hither and yon.
We’ve had several successful forays to the UK with Messer Giuseppe and Lady Medb visiting Ireland. I know we all can’t wait to hear about their adventures on the Emerlad Isle and just the few bits we’ve gotten thus far on the House Corvus list have been great, (pictures, we want pictures!)! Experiences such as these are always very personal journies, to be sure, but I know we all benefit when they’re shared with the Household. Maybe we can get a few pics up on the website over the next few months.
Speaking of which, the Western Lady Medb and I are trying to recreate the specific itinerary we ended up following on the Corvus ’94 trip to the UK. Between her, Lord Cassan, and Mistress Susan Douglas of Andover, we’re hoping to set up a virtual tour (a la Corvus ’99) on the Corvus website by May. You’d be amazed at how much outside interest the Corvus ’99 tour has generated. Not only has it drawn many people to our website, but I’ve answered about a dozen different e-mails for people planning similar trips who are using our own tour as a guide!
Mistress Aryanna of Lochmere and I also did our annual trek to the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards dinner a few weeks ago. On top of mingling with the British film crowd, we got to visit the New Globe Theatre. What an extraordinary recreation! I’ll be keeping my eyes open for e-saver tickets to London this summer. They’re producing Hamlet in June/July, and I’m definitely going to go. If we can make it cheap enough, I’d be curious to know if anyone else in the Household is interested. This would be a very short excursion, maybe just a long weekend (it’s all I really have time for) and will probably come in around $400-$500.
An aside regarding the LFCC Awards dinner… I got to meet Sam Mendes and told him he was a shoe-in for Best Director for American Beauty at our own Oscars. For the second year in a row, I didn’t miss a single Oscar pick!
While Cate Blanchet couldn’t be there in London this year, I did get to see Helena Bonham Carter again and managed to spend some time with Kenneth Branagh. Seeing as how he is my personal Shakespearean god, that was a big thrill for me. Who knows who’ll pop up next year!
I don’t usually bore people with photos, but this was so much fun, I had to share!
No sooner did I get back then I headed up to Atlantia’s Kingdom A&S for my poetry duel with Mistress Ceridwen. I didn’t get nearly as much work done in London as I had planned, but I still managed to scrounge up nine original poems covering nine different centuries inspired by the nine Muses. I’ll bore you with one of them on the next page!
While I was pretty nervous going into it, and couldn’t wait for it to be over, I think it went very well. We gathered in the display room (after all, we were an A&S display) and performed our pieces before a very appreciative audience. It was an especial thrill for me to be able to read poetry aloud to Duchess Niobe, my own personal Muse when it comes to chronicling virtue and courtesy in the SCA. The Muse Calliope (history) ended up receiving the superior feedback from our crowd of judges and I’ll be drawing a cover featuring her for The Little Book of Atlantian Verse which Lady Tehair, Atlantia’s Kingdom Poet, will be producing for Crown Tourney.
I’ve been doing a few other cover illustrations recently both for our Kingdom newsletter, the Acorn, and the Page’s Academy. I’m not sure just how interested any of you might be in that sort of thing but, since many Corvites aren’t Atlantian, I thought I might share a few with you. I’ll put some in the interior of this issue of the Roundtable.
Literally, the day after Kingdom A&S, we headed down to Gulf Wars in Lumberton, Mississippi. Of course, we all know that Gulf Wars is just our excuse to go fool around in New Orleans and that we did with great alacrity!
Mistress Rhiannon, Baroness Deirdre Fletcher, Lord Robert, and I all tromped around the French Quarter and indulged in our usual “snack and drink” mentality. I don’t know what it is about New Orleans, but it just makes you over eat! Oy. The whole town’s like one great feedbag. And we dutifully drifted from shop to shop and grazed our way into a stupor.
Despite the grand time I had in the city the first few days, I actually wearied pretty quickly of the whole thing and ended up coming home a few days early. After all of the running around I’d been doing, it was so nice to just be able to put my feet up and sleep in my own bed!
Still, with all of our various responsibilities, and House Corvus members always seem to have a ton of them… remember to keep it fun! The SCA won’t collapse if we take a break now and then. Sometimes, it’s important to allow yourself a respite and enjoy the comfort and camaraderie that just being in House Corvus affords! -- BRAN
Cover to the Atlantian Page’s Academy Hornbook.
Yggdrasill lies low,
Lost in Ginnungagap.
Soft seedling soon to sow,
Strong roots swell and unwrap.
Auðhumla’s four rivers
Feed frosty, costly kin,
Fine shivering slivers
Form races crystalline.
Ýmir’s friendly farmers
Tend the Miðgarður tree,
Whilst Borr’s brood armors
And cry of death decree.
Keeps council with the King,
Secrets of every thing.
Borr and Beisla’s boys mesh,
Make meat of Ýmir’s feat!
Fueling fodder from flesh,
Still more do they entreat.
Head’s dome becomes heaven,
Carve mountains from his bones,
Blood dissolves to ocean
Teeth turn to tiled tombstones.
With age of war passing,
Pleasant peace is preferred;
Great gods cease harassing,
Exchange of pledges heard.
Gifts lift high, holy hearts
‘Tween sons, sisters, and men;
Whilst Jötun giants wait,
To start it all again.
--Bran Trefonnen (3/00)
Norse poetry, although also derived from an oral tradition, in turn is very different from the Finnish runo. The primary feature which distinguishes Norse poetry is probably the alliteration used. Alliteration means words which begin with the same sound, as in song ... sword, board ... brand or eagle ... Aesir. Another important feature of Norse poetry is the use of kennings. A kenning is a riddling reference to one item or concept which does not name it directly, but rather suggests it by the elliptical way in which the subject is spoken of, which causes the listener or reader to visualize the intended concept.
Norse poetry comes in two "flavors": eddaic and skaldic. Eddaic verse is anonymous and is composed in relatively simple language and meters. The themes are mythical or drawn from heroic legends. Stanzas vary in number of lines within the same poem. Skaldic poems are usually attributed to named poets and many of them are praise poems made for a specific jarl or king. Skaldic meters follow strict rules and can be very complex in structure, and the language used is often convoluted, kenning-rich, and a challenge to understand without footnotes. I, of course, shall endeavor to be kind!
I’ve chosen the style of the Dróttkvætt or "noble warrior's meter." This uses a three-stress line, normally of six syllables. The lines are linked in pairs by alliterationand a system of internal rhyme. In the first line a half-rhyme should be found -- also called skothending or "glancing hit" -- and in the second line the rhyme should be full -- also called aðalhending or "full hit". Each stanza contains eight lines, and there is usually a marked syntactic division at the end of line four to make the whole into two balancing halves.
I used two primary examples of the dróttkvætt. The first is from the Karlevi stone in Oland, ca. 1000 and the second is a praise poem to King Magnus of Norway composed by Arnór Thórdarson the Icelander ca. 1045.
As the Muse Calliope inspires epic poetry, I was drawn to this particular style and culture. I couldn’t think of anything more epic than Norse creation myths. As I had just attended Windmaster’s Hill’s Tourney of Ymir, I thought his story to be especially topical.
The Viking Achievement
Peter Foote and David M. Wilson, Eds. ©1970 by Sidgwick and Jackson, London.
A Selection of their Poems with Introduction and Notes
Translated by Lee M. Hollander. ©1945 by University of Michigan Press.
Translated by H. Palsson and Paul Edwards. ©1976 by Penguin Books, New York.
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