May 11, 2010

Bardic Bedlam

Last weekend, I made it to Calontir for their second ever Bardic Bedlam - their take on the Bardic Madness franchise.  It was fantastic, and I had a wonderful time!  The event itself was scheduled against another big-deal event, so they didn't get the turnout they'd hoped for - about half of what this year's Bardic Madness in Northshield was.  But frankly, for the second ever Bardic Bedlam, I thought it was a respectable crowd and a very comfortable size.  I didn't get any of the introvert-burnout I tend to get at big bardic events.  Everyone was engaged the whole time, everyone had fun, and performing was easy in front of this crowd (which contributed to some great performances to watch).  This has as much to do with the people as with the size of the event - I came away with such a good impression of Calontir (and this despite my admitted rapier fighter bias).  They were fun, friendly and welcoming, they throw a good party, and they're good to foreigners.

During the event, Master Owen Alun taught a class that dealt with Welsh and Irish triads.  During this class, he pointed out that a bard's first task is to listen, to observe and so the assignment he gave us was essentially to record three things we learned over the weekend.  So here are mine:

1)  The quality of a bardic venue has absolutely nothing to do with size.
2)  Culture is spontaneous - it's the way people welcome strangers, the songs that spring up in chorus around a campfire.  It's everything that comes out of the hearts and minds of a group of related individuals.
3)  Given that, culture is not something that can legitimately be enforced.

May 10, 2010

Sonnet 2: Countess of the Spring

A Sonnet for Countess Elizabeth von Kulmbach -

I have seen queens on high and distant thrones
Whose beauty, like December sunlight’s rays,
Would shame the spark and fire of precious stones,
But leave their subjects freezing in their gaze.
Yet under Northshield’s wintry, iron sky
I did not have to seek or pray for fire.
Your token for my words, your smiling eye
Some spark in me did nurture and inspire.
You, all the while, a double burden bore
With life inside, you led our land unswayed.
Your crown’s been passed, your daughter all adore,
Now Winter Queen, delight in what you’ve made.
A rosebud skipping through the court does bring
Her smile to all – our Countess of the Spring.

Notes:  I entered this in the A&S competition at my barony's May Day Moot a couple of weeks ago.  The theme was inspiration.  This weekend, around a campfire in Calontir (about which more later), people were remembering their first king and queen, and also the first king and queen who "made them believe it."  I've met and been subject to some very neat queens, but Countess Elizabeth was the first to make me believe it.  So I wrote this for her.  And as usual, documentation is available by downloading this here PDF.  Not that you need me to tell you how to write a freaking sonnet, but hey - I learned some about the nuances of Elizabethan sonnets while writing this, so it's here if you want it.  :-)