For a long time I’ve wanted to make reading Gawain and the Green Knight into an annual tradition around the New Year, as the poem itself is placed around the New Year.
However, 2020 was a long year, so I wanted to share it with others. At the beginning of the panic I read the entirety of Beowulf in Old English via impromptu streams on Facebook. This time, for Gawain, I made a long recording in garb (with new appropriate accessories!) and premiered it on New Year’s Eve and New Year Day. The videos are permanently on YouTube, so you can watch the whole playlist here or watch the videos via the embeds below.
When I found out that Iselda de Narbonne was going to receive her Laurel, I may have demanded to make her mantle. I don’t know. It’s all a little fuzzy.
Due to life, the timeline on construction got a little tight, so the foundation seams were all machine sewn. However, every single visible stitch was hand-sewn, and the applique and beads were done entirely by hand. The fabric and thread is 100% silk. Every fabric used is a two-tone that shimmers when in motion, some more subtly than others. The pearls are glass Swarovski pearls.
I was asked to say something about the mantle as it was presented to her, but initially all I could think of was “A badass bard deserves a badass mantle, and I hope this makes you cry.” However, inspiration struck two nights beforehand, so I wrote her a poem that I read:
From sweet soil sprouts the laurel,
But limbs and leaves with labor grow
dewy drupes. Devotion and time
Furnished fruits fair to the ear,
Foliate and flourishing, brought forth
Verdant voices in choral concordance.
Now a mantle marks the mastership attained
Proclaims to peers: perceive this Laurel
with seeds of song to sow and nourish.
Amang ic seowede nihtlang ic sticode me foroft.
Æt þære wæfersyne wundormentles, þīn wopdropum ic ahope.
The last two lines, in Old English, translate directly to “While I sewed through the night, I stabbed myself often. At the spectacle of the wonder-mantle, I hope for your tears.” In other words, “I hope it makes you cry.”
Wrote a poem! Did my first calligraphy! Threw in some illumination from the Book of Kells!
I was sick so the poem wasn’t as dramatic as I wanted it to be and the whole thing was late!
To Cuan, king of considerable worth:
Your bard begs you a brief moment
of time, attention, tolerance, and reprieve.
A report of a birthday reached my ears–
so a chronicle I conceive for the King of Atlantia,
a poem of his prowess, praising his might
with words of wisdom to warn and advise,
extolling the integrity of one .viii. times a king.
But unbidden, an illness attacked my form,
muddled my mind and mystified my pen.
Now my reason returns, revived and hale,
But the moment is missed! Mournfully thus
I weakly write a wish, with all goodwill
of a belated birthday from your King’s Bard.
Before Gideon ap Stephen was Laurelled at Ymir 2020, Mistress Rosalind asked me to translate the poem she had written to release Gideon from his apprenticeship into Old English. I happily did so — I love translations and find it a great challenge! Below is the text that I sent her; I also sent her a (very rough) recording for pronunciation. While I usually don’t use ċ (/ch/) or ġ (/j/) in my translations as they are entirely a modern conceit for transcription, I included them here to help indicate the pronunciation differences from c (/k/) and g (/g/) for performance.
Breostsefa = mind or heart, literally “the mind in the breast”
Cyneword-cempa for þære cuþre worulde
Cyneword-cempa = champion of fitting words
Rof for reþnesse in randgebeorh eadmede-folces
Randgebeorh = protection such as that afforded by a shield
Seldlic in feaxe stefn geofon-sidu
Seldlic = rare, strange, wondrous, extraordinary, having unusual good qualities Sid = wide, broad, spacious, and is specifically usually applied to the ocean, world, and universe
þurh wordcræft ond woþcræft þin gewald þu geseþe
Syntax of second half-line is “your prowess you show” wordcræft = the art of speaking and writing woþcræft = the art of poetry or song gewald = power, mastery (I chose it for the latter meaning)
Ure gomenwaþu to-gædere on geongum ond byrum
Syntax of second half-line is “of travels and times”; I chose to make plural because there was presumably more than one Byre has many meanings, but I particularly like the translation of “an event, a favourable time, an opportunity”
Nihtlangum leoþurunum listum ond sceaftum
Syntax of second half-line is “craft and creation” nihtlang = night-long leoþurun = counsel conveyed in verse (I thought this meaning was appropriate!) list = art, skill, cunning, craft, artifice
In early 2019, Master Eldred Ælfwald requested that Lady Kaaren Valravn create his court baron scroll (scroll information here). In turn, she asked Lord Ishmael Reed to write an original poem and me to translate the poem into Old English. Ishmael wrote the poem in the style of the 14th-century alliterative revival, which I then translated into Old English alliterative verse.
The prompt for Poeta Atlantiae in 2019 was too good to pass up: choose two poetic forms that are from locations at least 500 miles from each other. I chose the ghazal, from Persian and Arabic traditions, and alliterative verse, from Old English tradition. Kaaren Valravn kindly did last-minute calligraphy of both poems for my entry’s display, for which I am eternally grateful.
In 2018 my friend Ishmael Reed became Poeta Atliantiae, and somehow managed to convince me to start writing poetry again. The Fire of the Hunt was the result. I entered it into my first-ever bardic and poetry competitions at Trial By Fire 2018, and somehow managed to win both.