Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Flieg's Song

When I joined the SCA many many years ago, I knew I could sing and I knew I could write lyrics and, to a certain extent, poetry. I need guidance, yet didn't know what I needed. The person who helped me was Frederick of Holland, then a Master of Arms living in the Shire of Beau Fleuve (Niagara Falls, NY, and its vicinity).

Flieg, as he is know by just about everyone, and his lady, Lady Nicorlynn of Caer Wydyr took myself and several others under their wings and helped us learn to fly in the SCA. I have known them for over 35 years, and have watched as he won the Crown in the East Kingdom and in the West Kingdom, where they moved after they left the East.

Along with many valuable lessons which he continued to impart across the miles and the years, Flieg left behind a song, which I call "Flieg's Song." It is a simple song which perfectly expresses the joys of being part of the SCA. It is the first song I ever memorized and sang in the Society. I have sung it for years at feasts, in camp, at bardic circles, and in my daughters' nurseries when they were wee lasses. It was their lullaby. I love this song almost as much as I love the man wrote it.

Today, I present it to you.


Flieg's Song

Lyrics - Duke Frederick of Holland
Music (Autumn to May) - Peter Yarrow and Paul Stuckey

Oh, when I was a little boy
I thought those tales so fine
Of Arthur and his noble court
Of Bors and Sir Gawain
Of all the Kings and Princes
And noble firm yet ruth
Now I've found the SCA
And all of it's the truth
Sing Derry-o-Day, Sing Autumn to May

Oh, when I was a little boy
I read of righting wrongs
Of villains base and knights so brave
The noblesse of the strong
I read of griffins, dragons foul
And unicorns so fair
Now I've joined the SCA
And all of them are there
Sing Derry-o-Day, Sing Autumn to May

Oh, when I was a little boy
I longed to be knight
To fight beside my king at war
Break spears at tourneys bright
To be the King myself one day
Hold court in a high hall
Now I've joined the SCA
And I have done them all
Sing Derry-o-Day, Sing Autumn to May

Oh, when I was a little boy
I dreamed of lady fair
With eyes so bright and neck so white
Her love would be my air
I met her at a tourney
her favor's on my sleeve
Yes, now I've found the SCA
I'll never ever leave
Sing Derry-o-Day, Sing Autumn to May



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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mansongr, again!

I first blogged about this piece of love poetry in November 2012. I am blogging about it again today to present a new recording of the song.

"If a man composes a love-verse on a woman, then the penalty is full outlawry. The case lies with the woman if she is twenty or older. If she [is younger or] will not have it prosecuted, then the case lies with her legal administrator." - Gragas II, p. 198, K § 238.

A love-verse or mansǫngr was a ticket to a death-sentence in Commonwealth Iceland. As Gunnora, The Viking Answer Lady, says at her site:
The prohibitions against love poetry help to explain why courtships were little practiced in the Viking period. While the goddess Freyja was the patroness of *mansongar*, and delighted in love poetry, mortal women had to be more cautious. Love poems were viewed in law as a distinct slur upon a woman's reputation, suggesting that the poet had had a more intimate knowledge of his beloved than was considered seemly (Foote and Wilson, p. 112). The reputation of a woman reflected upon the honor of her family: if her honor was tarnished, so was that of her father, brothers, uncles, cousins and sons. Any dalliance with a woman's reputation was likely to bring down the wrath of her entire lineage upon the hapless suitor!
Unlike our more lenient society, the Icelanders were very concerned with the appearance of rectitude, especially when it pertained to unmarried women. An unmarried woman could be viewed as "social capital" and anything that would make her less than marriageable was a threat to the economic well-being of her family and herself.

However, there likely would not be a law prohibiting the writing of mansǫngar unless the problem existed. In the poem/song I present to you today, I have tried to imagine what such a mansongr might sound like.

Below, you have the poem which has been set to music, the score, and the standard recording. The melody is a variation on a modernization by Åke Persson of the 14th century Danish melody, Drømde mig en drøm i nat.

Please leave comments at the bottom. Enjoy!


Old Norse VersesPoetic Translation
Silki logi skýja
Sága vakir svæla
singrað kvikligr sǫngr
skyli hjartinn fylla

Grásvíðr liðmjjukr gráreygn
grænblað dýrhallr fagrbuínn
spenja á þin svefna
skirdræpr Freya hýrlega.

Gefa minna gáfar
gulla hornstraum fulla
Horna gjallar hvítings
hlátr fylgja sálsgata

Hrein seiði hǫrbrekka
hjartataugar tugu
skírdræpt sæt fagrgala
sverðsegg gullin skerpa


Beina rausta mína
Njorun silkiskorðu
Beina astir mína
Æskiselja ǫls.

Silken gods-flame
Saga wakes you sultry
Singing brisk song
shall the heart fill.

Willow deer-slope grey-eyed
green-blade lithe bright-dressed
Draw (me) to your dreaming
dazzling Freya smiling.

Give my gifts to me
golden horn-storms full
Horna's ringing ale horn
laughter guides souls-path.

Pure enchanting flax-slope
You tug at my heart-strings
Dazzling soft love song
sharpens golden sword-edge.


My voice rises to you
Goddess of Silk-trees
My love rises to you
Ale's wishing-willow.



Kennings Used
Silki Sága > Silken Goddess > WOMAN
logi skýja > gods-flame > SUN
Grásvíðr dýrhallr > Willow deer-slope > WOMAN
grænblað > green blade > WOMAN
skirdræpr Freya > dazzling Freyja > WOMAN
hornstraum > horn-storms > SONGS
Horna gjallar hvítings > Horn's ringing ale-horn > WOMAN
sálsgata > soul's gate > HEART
hǫrbrekka > flax-slope > WOMAN
fagrgala > love song > WOMAN
sverðsegg > sword's edge > MAN'S LOVE
Njorun silkiskorðu > Goddess of the silk-tree > WOMAN
Æskiselja ǫls > Ale's wishing willow > WOMAN


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Monday, January 6, 2014

The Jarl's Death

This poem is a poetic translation of an Old Norse poem, Endu Rima "Battle's End". It is in dróttkvætt. It has many kennings in it, most of which I leave the reader to puzzle out. The only one I´ll give you is "Troll-woman's horse troop" in verse three. It is from one of several Old Norse kennings for "wolf/wolves" which are often represented as the troll or the giant's horse. This kenning means "the wolf-troop" or the Northern invaders.

I hope you'll enjoy the poem.


The Jarl's Death
Witnessed I wolf-feeder
wise of warriors quarrel
Sternly blade Tyr storm browed
striped swords edge with gore-gild.
Army Thor you offered
Elder dragon fell play
gulls of battle, gallant
good king you fed blood-feast.

Iron-fisted wolf-jarl
attacked you, fame attractor
raiders found retainers
ready to make heads fly
Wisest spear-point wielder
won you victory's sun-burst
Low the ring trees laid you
Lord of men - gold-hoarder.

Troll-woman's horse troop
attracted spear-play fractious
Swayed the birches Southern
sundered in edge-thunder.
Fell in life-flood's fullness
friend of wound-gulls ended.
Suffered jarl-Thor sacred
slain for victory's gaining.

Spied I sudden spear-flight
severed war-garb hardened -
Foemen ringed you fifty
found you with Hirðmen rounded.
Shoulder high bore shield god
steadfast in sword-headwind.
The branches of your breaking
bring night fall to my bright soul.


I have composed music for the poem:


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