MEED OF THE BARD
BY BARD JUDITH
This poem was written as a personal reflection by Judith of Bardavos, upon the attainment of her third ring. She shared it with a few fellow bards at the private ceremony of presentation, and was encouraged to make it public to the School of Tunes, as a perfect example of 'the teaching tunes' which are used to instruct and guide young singers and poets in their path along the bardic way. Both cautionary and inspiring, the poem references both the duties and the privileges of a bard. Its by-now well-known title refers to the 'meed' or payment, that which is requited to a labourer in response to his/her efforts, and warns young minstrels - who might see only the glory and glamour of singing for kings, or to dream of their golden torcs - that the rewards of a bardic life are more than likely to be intangible.
To be a bard
requires numerous gifts.
Hear and listen, o folk of the stream and forest.
A bard has power: the power of the tongue to wound or heal.
To scold and castigate the wrongdoer, to reveal iniquity,
To calm and soothe the downhearted, to bring balm and surcease,
To rouse and stir the sluggish,
A bard’s diatribe may raise boils on the face of the unworthy,
put steel in the bones of the unsure.
A bard’s lullaby can turn away a wrathful army,
bring slumber to a fretting babe.
A bard’s ballad is able to birth joy in the hearts of lovers,
spread happiness before the feet of those long-married.
A bard has talent: the gift of the well-turned phrase,
the voice like a lark or ringing church bell, the hands which pluck out notes.
To make a poem, a song, an epic;
create a song to please, a ditty to entertain, a chant to praise.
A bard’s presence may spark conversation,
as flint and steel bring a whole bonfire to flame.
A bard’s laughter can make a banquet hall come to life,
turn up the corners of a sour mouth.
A bard’s words are able to change pathways in the minds of the weary,
set out a new map for those lost in the dark nights of the soul.
To be a bard contains numerous obligations.
Hear and listen, o folk of the abbey and school.
It is to be honest, to have lips of truth and eyes of perception,
to faithfully wound even a friend, to speak the truth in love.
It is to give generously, to have a heart bubbling over with music even when one is weary,
a throat full of song when one has sung the livelong day.
It is to be the keeper of the chronicles, the one who writes the tales,
Records the histories, carries the news.
To be a bard is to receive a coinless meed.
Hear and listen, o folk of the world’s wide pathways!
A smith is paid in copper coin, a thane counts down the gold in his coffers,
a minstrel wears her silver ring, a scholar takes in the pupils’ fees.
We craft, we fight, we sing, we write,
only the torc of thanks held out, only the due of duty.
What reparation is there for the bard, whose notes must come like a struck harp,
wil-he, nil-he, making music, bringing peace?
Give us a place in the hearthcorner, a bit of land to tend,
a book, a chain taken from your own neck, a hot meal.
We are content
to be a bard.
BY TALIA STURMWIND
This poem was found in the hands of Ailin, the wife of the famous poet Rimo of Parda, who had lived as slave in Shan‘tai for twenty years. Born as the son of the local merchant, it was soon obvious that he had special gifts and was educated later in Santhala. He soon received the plaudits of the critics as the creator of many excellent poems. On a voyage from Parda to Varcopas his ship was lost and his Sarvonian admirer thought he had drowned. Several years later poems so sad and moving arrived on strange ways in Strata, but no author was known. Now light came into the story by a slave who managed to escape his masters in Shan‘tai. He brought Rimos last poem to the world of Sarvonia. It is now known that he had lived so long as slave in Shan‘tai, obviously in agreable conditions, but nevertheless unfree. Rimo and Ailin have decided to leave this world voluntarely by drinking a cup tea of the poisonous Co‘Ni plant.
High in the skies
my soul flies
Come dear with me
we shall be
Ties will not hold
the lives sold
Dark is the night
a birds flight
High in the skies
my soul flies
Poems written by various team members