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Bardic Arts

For Gareth Ivinghoe,
three days after his death

by
Branwen ferch Emrys

My first death wetly cups the ground. I cry
"Hurrah!" and throw my bright shield down. He stands,
and, later, dry, hot mead at lips, our hands
grip tight, we toast to life, and don't ask why.

Exultant now, I arm anew. I try,
my sword arm hard and sore, as each blow lands,
for my second death. Such death demands
a grunted "good", a fall, a false good-bye.

What joyful life would ask its friends to die?
No gaily painted shield can stop the sands
that trickle out and mark us aged. Strands
of ghostly white cup our face, and don't lie.

I feel no joy in watching my friends die.
My first death wetly cups the ground. I cry.


Gareth Ivinghoe was killed in a motorcycle accident on a rainy day in November. Three days afterwards, I needed to present my final piece as Bard of the Mists. I could not reconcile the thought of writing a poem that glorified battle, even SCA battle, so soon after the first time one of my friends had died. Real death is not glorious, and is far more final. -- Branwen


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