[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on t he PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

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More Random Acts of Poetry

As noted before, it is the custom here in Insulae Draconis for each couple competing in coronet tourney to be heralded in with 'boasts' or some form of introduction. I was tapped by two couples this time and was happy to serve.

Lord Esbiorn and Lady Catlin asked me again, and I opted for a sonnet. I used the Elizabethan style sonnet of three quatrains with an abab rhyme scheme, and a concluding couplet. (The form is well documented in many places, so I shan't provide a footnote.) The arms of Insulae Draconis are blazoned: Per fess sable and azure, a demi-sun in splendor issuant from the line of division within a laurel wreath, in chief a crescent Or. So you have something which resembles a sun on the horizon. I wanted to use the image of a setting sun as a metaphor for the end of the reign, but couldn't quite squeeze in the idea of the new day to come without giving my principals short shrift. This means the metaphor isn't as clear as I would have liked, still tant pis.

The sun sets now upon a happy land
For Prince and Princess must themselves prepare.
Like royal chalice passed from hand to hand
Their lands must pass into another's care.

Comes Esbiorn the bold to hold this ground,
With sword and shield to prove his right to reign.
So that an heir may be with honour found -
Succession forged in never-broken chain.

Comes Catlin no less strong in her desire
To serve these lands and those who in her dwell.
A maid of steel who burns with inner fire
To show the recreant a taste of hell.

They claim a throne this lady and her lord,
Whose strength combined is as a woven cord.

Also competing were Lady Agnes des Illes and her consort Lord Aodh O Siadhail. They caught me at a time shortly after a sestina had been read at a feast, so sestinas were near the front of my mind. The sestina is not a form with which I have worked very much - or possibly at all. So, as a first pass I did a bit of looking on the web. As with sonnets, there are apparently different types and variations on those types. An overview may be found here. Or you could try wikipedia, of course.

In brief, a sestina has six stanzas of six lines each. The end words of each line of each stanza are the same and rotate through in a fixed order. There is a three-line envoi which must use all six of the end words, two per line, one of which must end the line. The main purpose of the sestina seems to be to allow the poet to show off. (I could be wrong about that.)

Choosing the end words is critical, since they are going to repeat in each stanza. Words which can be used as multiple parts of speech can help to keep things lively, as can words with multiple meanings. "Will," one of my end words, can be used as a noun or a verb, and has multiple nuanced meanings. "Light," another, has similar wide-ranging uses. Agnes and Aodh mentioned a few things they would like mentioned in the boast, and with thirty-nine lines to play with, I was able to work most of them in.

I chose iambic pentameter for my individual lines mostly because I like it and am comfortable working with it. It also is a good line to be read aloud, as this sestina was intended to be. I have left in the line markings to more clearly illustrate the pattern.

a) All present hearken now to these my words -
b) All those who dwell upon the Dragon Isles.
c) For coming now to test their might and will
d) Are two whose honour shines with blinding light,
e) Whose virtues shine like beacons in the night,
f) A guide which brings lost sailors home to rest.

f) First comes the one who gives her foes no rest,
a) Who draws her sword and steps forth with bold words
e) To test her steel by day and too by night
b) Her name - know all - is Agnes of the Isles
d) Or else des Illes. Her blows are never light.
c) If you don't fear her now, just wait, you will.

c) Her inspiration here attends Your will,
f) A tireless man who stands above the rest,
d) Who labours 'till the dying of the light,
a) Who serves this land with deeds as well as words,
b) Who yields to no one else within these isles,
e) Who faithfully keeps up his watch by night.

e) His courtesy knows neither day nor night.
c) Fair Isabel made him by Royal will
b) A member of her Order so the Isles
f) - each noble lady, lord, and all the rest -
a) Would hear his worth ring out in all her words
d) And use his courtesy as guiding light.

d) As flowers turn their faces toward the light
e) Does Agnes study hard until the night
a) When lessons turn from blows to cunning words.
c) As squire to wise Vitus, strong of will,
f) She learns the peaceful arts among the rest
b) Of those more martial skills that guard these isles.

b) Our Queen saw worth in Agnes of the Isles
d) Made her a Champion so that her light
f) Under a bushel would not hide and rest
e) But would illuminate the darkest night
c) So bowing to her lady's Royal will
a) She guards her monarch with both sword and words.

be) The Isles will have an heir before the night
dc) So while light burns set to with all your will.
fa) Rest not, and on the foeman prove these words.

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Luddite'sLog, 26 November 2017
© 2017 Jeff Berry
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