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Bardic Arts

For Mists Coronet
Torvald Torgarson
April 3, 2003 (AS XXXVII)

Slowly gathers soft and
silent shroud of grayness,
travels with the tide and
turns the lands to shadows.
Ghostly floating glimpses
glitter lost to straining
eyes while ears can hear the
open harness ringing.

Banners raised and reach for
restless breezes, haunting
din of iron dance by
dauntless slayers of the
troll kin. Taking naught but
tasking all, in bid to
hold the highest place by
heat of pride and honor.

Seek ye now the steel and
silver, for by both is
honor won, to offer
oath to land and people
with a will to hold and
wonder. At the gather
shall the shades of yestre
shout for princ'ly greeting.

This one is a bit longer than just an Occasional Verse, though still not really long enough to be considered a flokr. It was written and sent to Mists Coronet since I could not attend and wanted to add to the ambiance of the day. And was a bit sad about missing it.

One of the most valuable and respected skills of the skalds of Scandinavia was the ability to extemporize verses on short notice. One skald, Sigvat Thordarson was noted for being able to compose poetry as fast as normal people could talk. Imagine, holding a conversation entirely in skaldic verse! The Occasional Verse was used whenever the skald was inspired, wished to make a point, or to draw attention to a situation.

Most of the examples of Occasional Verse I have been able to find have been in Dravkaet form, and in my work I follow that example. The structure of drakvaet consists of a pair of six syllable lines each with three stresses. There will be three alliterations in each pair of lines. In the first line there will be two alliterations that can fall on any stressed syllable. In the second line there will be one alliteration that must fall on the first stressed syllable. Then four pairs of lines will make a stanza. In traditional drakvaet there will also be two internal rhymes in each pair of lines. If these internal rhymes are imperfect rhymes such as ham and back, or pill and well, this would be known as a skothending, or glancing hit. If it was a perfect rhyme it is called adalhending, or a full hit. In addition the glancing hit must be in the odd numbered line, and the full hit in the even line. Moreover, the rhyme must fall on the second and last syllables of the line.

In my work I do not make use of the internal rhyming for the same reasons that Prof. Lee M. Hollander states in his book, The Skalds, A Selection of Their Poems, on the first page of the preface. I did not, frankly, because I found myself unequal to the task, but also because experience has shown that internal rhyme now falls on deaf ears. With all of the other strict parameters of the drakvaet this one area has proven to be beyond me, and with rest of the structure intact I believe I have still kept within the spirit of the form. -- Torvald

(This is from Torvald's collection of verse: Occasional Verses, and used with his permission.)

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