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Bardic Arts

"Douglas Brownbeard"
by
Diana Listmaker

(This fragmentary lyric tells of the death of a West Kingdom warrior in a battle which appears to have taken place in the latter part of the year VIII.)

(The poet complains of a hard life, and praises former Kings.)
 
Much have I wandered  in this world's kingdoms,
Known many sorrows,  hardships suffered,
Because of betrayals  and speakers in secret,
Slanderers weaving  webs of lies.
 
The world worsens,  when I remember  5
The noble ring-givers  who ruled in peace,
Givers of gold  to bards and wisemen,
Loyal in lordship  and worthy of honor,
Great is my grieving  that they are gone.
 
Knights and nobles  now seek the kingship.  10
The fultures rejoice  in the ceaseless slaughter.
Where is the warrior  who shall lead the people
In paths of peace  or glorious battle.
For Douglas of Hvitamyrr  this day is fallen.
 
(Several lines are missing at this point; when the MS resumes, the poet is describing the battle.)
 
Grey with cloud  the storm-god's playground  15
On the day  that brought us sorrow.
Icy winds  blasted the spring tide
With the bitter  breath of winter.
The white sea-gull  cries out in sadness.
The waves sigh  worn out with grief.  20
 
Swift the sword-play,  long and hard the battle
That they fought  upon the seastrand.
Many the foes,  and fierce the fighter
Who downed at last  the noble Douglas.
 
(The poet praises the fallen hero.)
 
Brave he was,  the brown-bearded warrior,  25
Never fleeing  from battle's fury;
Sage in speech  when counselors gathered;
A mighty word-smith  skillful in singing,
Of odin's mead  deep had he drunk.
Now the bright-haired  maiden mourns him.  30
Praising his prowess  the warriors weep.
 
(The hero will go to Valhalla; the poet expresses forebodings for the future.)
 
Hoofbeats thunder  in the heavens,
And the horns  of Odin's daughters
Promise glory  to the hero - -
Valkyries will  reward his valour.  35
 
In Middle Earth  the sound of mourning
Fills the air.  Where shall we find
Another such leader  for this land?


From a collection of fighter poems titled Valhalla. This is from the section titled: "Valhalla".

"Long ago, the West Kingdom bards decided to produce poems for every fighter in each crown lists. We carried this on for several years before finally faltering. A large number of bards were required, since the lists kept getting larger and eventually the effort involved wore us out. Even so, we published two volumes of the best of the fighter poems. I was president of the college of bards of the West Kingdom at that time and I regard that effort as perhaps the most satisfying thing I ever achieved in the SCA." -- Steven MacEanruig


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