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Bardic Arts

The Ramble
by
Gerhardt von Nordflammen

There was a night, when made by I
The blackened billows filled the sky
And only stars could pierce the shade
That struck the shadows in the glade

But there I met a laughing sprite
A gaily dancing in the night
And she was draped in silvered fern
And she was barefoot
And her eyes cool embers

“Good nocky sir”, she says to me
Assumed an air of ancient grace
And with a bow, she sang a plea
To rest her lap upon my face

“Your humble servant maid”, said I
“I’ll sheath my gloom now by and by
“To give us light to see our way
“In our moonless midnight meander
“Filled with alliteration
“I’ll stick around awhile.”

She snaps her head back with a grin
Shifts from pool to pool of effulgence
“My interest, kind sir, lies in sin,
“And placing pride above a pence.”

“Well dimset dancing,” I retort
“For I’m a fellow of noble sort
“And pride for me is princely deed
“That brings me naught but barren seed.”

“Well met brave sir, well met again
“Let’s dance in the darkness, stroke in the shade
“Let’s case from sky the eldritch gleam
“That makes all things be what they seem.”

With that she steps
Into the gloom
And wixels wax
And blongers bloom
And point by point
And stem by stem
She stoops and calls
Them back again

While I cast up
My narrow hand
And clear the
Clarion from the land
And mumbly weaving
To and fro
I tell the Clogging clouds to go

And wile the moon doth snicker forth
I wonder at the change
For she is dressed in sneakers white
And I am using words like doth

We scaled the hill alock the mere
And gazed upon the glass
‘Till wixels slocksis purplelass
An ripples rend the were.

“Ay, allis vast an’ allis dark”
She says a silent say
Her skin a waxen birches bark
Aglow agin the day

“New lay us doon agin the nacht”
Fair black arrest the air
An lays a stillness in the place
Where woundin’ former were

“This is my sacred land,” says she
“An here it is we stay
“So spread your stars across the arc
“And let your moonlight play”

I swept my cloak and cast my stars
Into a blooming bier
Alive with newborn moonbeams
That played above the mere

An as we lay an waters watched
A gentle strain began
An elveses stole out from the wood
That shelters them from man

We watch them weave an elven dance
A called from ulthereme
While faerie flutings wind a trance
To heal their vanished dream

Of magic lands away from care
And waters free from fate
Of castles founded in the air
Of days that aren’t too late

Their fragile fragrance fills the night
Their futile freams are tossed
On moonbeams made to soothe the sight
Of these last legions of the lost

We speak to some, some speak to we
Of Moxinathe in Delsindethe
Across the vanished sea
“Oh Lady Life, oh Lord of Death
“Oh tell us, can you see
“To what far shore the last ship went
“Across the vanished sea
“The sun climbs east, the sun sinks west
“And hither linger we
“Awhile our hearts are yearning
“To cross the vanished sea”

My partner bows her lovely head
An speaks a sad reply
“We cannot say, though we are great
“The Lord of Death and I
“For Life and Death do not avail
“Across the vanished sea
“And only deep within us
“Do we know where it may be
“We cannot ride its billows
“Nor touch its further shore
“Where silent stand the willows
“And open stands the door
“But seek ye deep within your mind
“Where being cannot be
“Beyond the nothing you will find
“A newly vanished sea”

The Elves they bowed and turned away
And filed beneath the boughs
And on their silver flutes did play
With stars upon their brows

And we made love beneath the stars
Upon that silvered lea
While Elven voices bore us up
Across the vanished sea

We lay damp in each other’s arms
When all our all was spent
They bowed once more to Life and Death
And softly sad they went

For now the dawning day drew nigh
And Life cast forth her light
And breathed a blessed warming sigh
On earth new freed from night

And then she curled up in my arms
          And ...
                    We went to sleep

                                                  day

We woke again while the sun stood straight above us
While the heat wisped

Heat beams waking, heat beams on my head
Close the eyes
A little while
For traceries on pulser red

Ah now, snow we open wide
A breeze abuvas blow
To trace the sky with leafy lines
And weave the world below

An wave away the Elven lake
An strip the bushes bare
An bring on heaving helms of grey
A thunder from their lair

Now look upon her sleeping face
As snowlight on the sun
As quiet on the depths of dark
Where care and want are gone

So doon the rain begin to beat
Cool diamonds all entwined
In locks of brown and eyes of grey
That open with the wine
Of shadow high and shade below
That frets the flame of life to flow

I grab her up and grab her down
And grabbing her I say
“Though grabbing’s nice
“I need some lice
“That feed on mice
“And swim in clammy clay”

“These sneakies soar
“In rainy roar
“And fling out flames of green
“That purple pour
“Across the floor
“And dip the down between

“And while I wrack
“Continues black
“They sing of times away
“When tick the tack
“Anew the knack
“Of sleeting soup away”

Well hixey hie! I take her hand.
Well saxey sigh! I grab her gland
And though the worst the world forebode
We’ll set off by god
And do all that stuff
Make the lily weed with joy
And turn a frog into a toad

Wel’ll skip a scump
And log a lump
And tax the ground
On which we lie
We’ll munch a zunch
And hog a hunch
And take the tog
From what we try

                                                  more day

The sun came up like a candelabra of thunder
Beating its bilious beams into the grunting ground
We halted at the farmer’s hut
To find what we had found

“Aieee gilcracky,” our famer said
“Bejeekies cackle quack
“A thousand pardons,” we replied
And promptly hit the sack

He milked the moos
And cotched the goos
And rode the nonny-noe
We wet the hay
And silent lay
Until we left to go

“A simple mahn is birksey”
Cried the toiler of the turves
“The face is doon, the nack is gave
“To vampies, coils and werves”

We broke his bread
We ate his bed
We baked his boony beer
We cleaned his cup
We sacked his sup
And lastly shed a tear

“Goodbye good man, may you be graced”

                                                  dancing with danny

We met a woman on the road
Her age was ninety-three
Her teeth were gone, her hair was grey
Her eyes was bright and free

Her back was bent, her head was bowed
She leaned upon a staff
“I see ye are the laird o’ death”
She cried out with a laugh

“Cum lay her darkness on me head
“Cum steal me breath from me
“Fer I hav danced with with Danny
“An don’t give naught for thee”

“Hes hair was brown, hes teeth was white
“Hes eyes was blue an’ gold
“He laughed and took me in hes arms
“To keep me from the cold”

“He turned a bush into a flame and called out ‘Rashverak’
“Give me music free and fierce
“And let your demon’s greedy pride
“The vaulted heavens pierce”

“The music called out to me soul wild within the wild
“And Danny kissed me on the lips and turned me round and round
“He said my breath was breezes, my beauty seared his mind
“He said my eyes was glass of green with stars ablaze behind”

“Oh Molly dear I love you, I love you though I’m damned
“Oh give me up your pretty soul and by my side you’ll stand
“I am the Prince of Pleasure and you shall be my queen
“Give up to me your virgin soul and let me keep it clean”

“I’ll keep it from the holies and all their cringing cant
“I’ll save it from the Lord of Lies and all his sycophants
“They take from Life her pleasure, they steal from Death his grace
“They bid you worship guilt and fear and all their maggot race”

“Their ruler is the Lord of Lies whose son died on the cross
“While He stood by a dicing, world wagered in the toss
“He blinds men to his madness, he bids them all be slaves
“Lest they perceive their power and lay him in his grave”

“For he feeds himself on homage and nourishes on shame
“He lusts to suck the blood of youth to quench its fragrant flame
“That naught is left but bitterness and worship of his name
“So when bright Death approaches, thou shalt fear his healing hand
“And turn unto the Lord of Lies, and flee into his land
“And serve his selfish loneliness, and bear his chattels brand”

“Oh Molly, will you shun his fate? Oh will you cast it down?
“Will you bind your self to mine and don the demon’s gown?
“Your body it may whither, your limbs may twist with age
“But still within you life will burn ‘till freed from mortal cage”

“And when you meet the Shadow Lord who trips the trap of time
“Your soul will soar up bright and free into my sunlit clime
“And we shall dwell together, within my blazing hall
“While worlds without do wither and stars around us fall”

“And then my Danny took me, and laid my body bare
“And touched me to his scented couch, while demons lit the air
“I gave to him my body and cast my soul away
“I took from him the blazing joy and slept until the day”

“When I awakened he was gone and sunlight touched my eyes
“I rose and walked until I met a man in priestly guise
“He told me to become a nun and cast the world aside
“But I had danced with Danny and thus I knew he lied”

“What’s Jesus ever done for me that I should be his slave
“And be akin to hypocrites who dread the gentle grave
“I spat upon the holy joe and danced on down the lane
“For I had danced with Danny and shall fear naught again”

“For many years I’ve wandered and the years have took their toll
“My body is crushed down with age but my soul is not defiled
“And now I say, ‘Well met’, to Death whose touch shall set me free
“I’ll dance once more with Danny and he will dance with me”

A shade passed her rheumy eyes
          And into them
I spread out wide the cloak of night
          Peacefully for this one
          The darkness one more became darkness
The old body lay by the road
          Bones within not worth the rags on its back

“Danny”
“Danny”
Beyond the black horizon
Beyond the final sky
She dances with her Danny
‘Cause Danny doesn’t lie

Dancing with Danny


"I include this, pardon gentles, as an act of self-indulgence. “The Ramble” was written shortly after I came into the SCA, and, for the life of me, I can’t see that it has anything to do with that organization or medievalism in general. I wrote it all in one night in a, shall we say, rather peculiar mood, and, although it is less a poem than an extended flaw, I like it and have never had the heart to revise it. So, here it is ..." -- GvN
© 1981, Lawrence Hyink III


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