The Ballade Duet

Last fall, my friend William of Fairhaven won crown, and became Prince of the MidRealm, making His wife Isolde Princess. As They began to construct Their staff in preparation for the reign that started at the beginnig of May AS 52, I was appointed to the role of Awards Secretary. As part of that role, I volunteered to write any scroll texts that They wished, to make awards that They were giving even more special.

I was honored with the task of writing four scroll texts for Coronation, all treasured, but one was very special.

Edmund and Kateryn have been MidRealm royalty five times. Being royalty once is a massive undertaking of finance, coordination, dedication and will. It was important to William and Isolde that They recognize this effort replicated five times. Thus, They asked me to write the text of a Kingdom Augmentation of Arms for Edmund and Kateryn.

One of the types of forme fixe poems is the Ballade, which can be found discussed here. As my persona has evolved, I’ve grown more attached to Ballades, and have endeavored to learn the form from a poety perspective, with my finest efforts to this point having been the Ballade Cycle I wrote for my friend Robert Downey’s vigil and Knight.

The Ballade is right in the ballpark for both Edmund and Kateryn’s personas, and I thought I might do a Ballade for them. But when they were on the thones, I’d been in the royalty room preparing for a court, and His then Majesty Edmund spoke at length about how He did not like for couples to recieve joint awards, so that was the end of that idea.

Then inspiration struck. The results are below. It’s called a Ballade Duet.

The left hand-column is the Kingdom Augmentation of Arms script for Duke Edmund. It has a rhyming scheme of ababbcbC (where C is the repeated line) for three stanzas.

The right hand-column is the Kingdom Augmentation of Arms script for Duchess Kateryn. It has a rhyming scheme of dedeeceC (where C is the repeated line).

Note how both texts have the single shared rhyme and end lines. This binds the two poems together, along with the shared half-stanza at the end, and builds the theme throughout the piece. But if these poems had been written on separate scrolls, they still stand alone as versions of a Ballade.

After each of the three stanzas, there is a shared Envoi, or half-stanza, which uses the rhyme scheme abeC. It leaves out the e rhyme, which I’m not happy about; I am leaning towards modifing the form further to have a five line envoi, which could then be abdeC.

SCA period is replete with poets adapting existing poetry forms or creating new ones out of whole cloth, from Arneaut Daniel creating the Sestina, to Shakespeare adapting the Sonnet. As with these worthies, my small contribution is open for all to use, adapt, and improve.

Edmund Kateryn
Now bring We Edmund before these hard thrones So here is Kateryn, beauty held on high
We see his love for all the Dragon lands Her love and grace encompasses us all
To be a Dragon warrior’s in his bones Upon the wings of Dragons does she fly
Long has he held the Red Pale in his hands And far below she hears our joyful call
No one will move the Duke from where he stands And standing with us she will never fall
And so he seeks to win for lady bold Never in her heart a hint of cold
Sweet Kateryn is his lovely queen so grand and welcomed all to warmth within their hall
Within their hearts the dragon do they hold Within their hearts the dragon do they hold
So King five times, he feels it in his bones Rum’s Chancellor, she never has been shy
To victory at Pennsic War he planned Armed now with Rapier, plunging in the brawl
A Knight and Marshal as the land has grown And all shall learn to heed her warning cry
As General he led the roving bands As down the lady hawk stoops to the thralled
Over the rent and blood-soaked Gulf Wars sands As graceful as a dancer at the ball
A chalice for a King all done in gold So like the fencer Porthos, just as bold
And let not merry hearts be shunned or banned And with her King she does defend the Walls
Within their hearts the dragon do they hold Within their hearts the dragon do they hold
And as a Dragon’s Tooth has he been thrown And thus Edmund’s Willow will, by and by
Three times across the battlefield’s lands her five years on the thrones fully recall
And as Dragon’s Heart has thus been shown The love of Midrealm folk never denied
His love for all the MidRealm ne’er remand And too, her love for them has never palled.
And thus no other service we demand And now your protestations we forestall
Before Us now, dear friends, now you are told His sapphire a new fitting out of gold
So now do hear Our Royal full command And thus announce before the people all
Within their hearts the dragon do they hold Within their hearts the dragon do they hold
He is her Vanguard, she his Rose, they stand
Long will the stories of their days be told
A Kingdom Augmentation, hear the call!
Within their hearts the dragon do they hold