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poetry-msg - 7/1/18


Period poetry styles and techniques.


NOTE: See also the files: poems-msg, p-songs-msg, p-stories-msg, bardic-msg, Bardic-Guide-art, storytelling-art, song-sources-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: sbloch at euler.ucsd.edu (Steve Bloch)

Date: 20 Oct 91 17:09:16 GMT


HZS at psuvm.psu.edu (Therion) cites:

>Lyrics of the Middle Ages, an anthology. / edited by James J. Wilhelm. New

> York, Garland Pub., 1990.     isbn 0824033450, 0824070496 (pbk.)

>    xix, 341 p. ill. 23 cm.


This sounds very similar, but not identical, to what's on my shelf:

Medieval Song, An Anthology of Hymns and Lyrics

translated by James J. Wilhelm.

E.P.Dutton & Co, New York 1971. sbn 0-525-47297-5

416 p. incl. contents & index


From the back cover:

This comprehensive anthology presents in English translation the full

historical development of medieval poetry from the end of the

classical period, through the religious growth, and finally to the

blossoming of secular lyrics.  There are 230 lyrics grouped as

follows: Late Classical poems, Christian hymns, Latin lyrics of

600-1050, Carmina Burana, Provencal songs, Italian, German, and North

French songs, and songs of Great Britain -- chiefly Old and Middle

English. The translator, Professor James J. Wilhelm of Rutgers

University, also includes a selection of [21] original texts in

addition to prefatory essays on all of the texts.


Stephen Bloch

mar-Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib


sbloch at math.ucsd.edu



From: habura at vccsouth12.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Date: 19 Nov 91 21:42:15 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


No, sorry. I know of no poetry form with that scheme. (I am, however, playing

with a VERY difficult 14th century poetry form called sestina. It doesn't

rhyme. Instead, one chooses six words, and writes six six-line stanzas, with

the six words being the end-words of each line. The words rotate in a set

pattern, so the first stanza will have the words in order ABCDEF, the second

BCDEFA, the third CDEFAB, and so on. Then, there is a two-line envoi at

the end, which must use all six words (though not necessarily in order.) The

meter is iambic pentameter, so that's the easy part; I read a lot of Shakespeare. The form was invented by French poets, and I understand that it is harder in English than in French. Compared to this, sonnets are CAKE.)


Alison MacDermot

*Poet Wannabe*



From: habura at vccsouth19.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Date: 22 Nov 91 13:51:49 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


Poetry: Quite a few of you have E-mailed me about the verse form called

sestina. So, believing that Research is Good for the Soul, I found some more

specific information on it.


The verse form was invented in the 12th century, and is credited by Petrarch

to one Arnaud Daniel, a famous troubador (Petrarch calls him "gran maestro

d'amore"). Although there appear to be no period English poems in this style,

it is mentioned by Sidney in 1586. The verse scheme is so: six stanzas of six

lines each, iambic pentameter, with a three-line envoi. There are no rhymes;

rather, the poet selects six words, and ends each line with one of the six,

in the order ABCDEF. The order in the second stanza must be FABCDE, the

third EFABCD, and so on. The envoi must contain all six words, but not

necessarily in order. An out-of-period writer says "The sestina is a

dangerous experiment, on which only poets of the first rank should venture".

(Undaunted, I'm working on one anyway.) Although I was unable to locate

a period sestina, I'm posting one in English, written by Kipling in 1896.

Notice that even he was forced to cheat: he replaces "long" with "along"

in stanza 5.


             Sestina of the Tramp Royal

                Rudyard Kipling


Speakin' in general, I 'ave tried 'em all--

The 'appy roads that take you o're the world.

Speakin' in general, I 'ave found them good

For such as cannot use one bed too long

But must get 'ence, the same as I 'ave done,

And go observin' matters 'till they die.


What do it matter where or 'ow we die,

So long as we've our 'ealth to watch it all--

The different ways that different things are done,

And men and women lovin' in this world;

Takin' our chances as they come along,

And when they ain't, pretending they are good?


In cash or credit--no, it ain`t no good;

You 'ave to 'ave the 'abit or you'd die,

Unless you lived your life but one day long,

Nor didn't prophecy nor fret at all,

But drew your tucker some'ow from the world,

An' never bothered what you might ha' done.


But, Gawd, what things are they I 'aven't done?

I've turned my 'and to most, an' turned it good,

In various situations round the world--

For 'im that does not work must surely die;

But that's no reason man should labor all

'Is life on one same shift--life's none so long.


Therfore, from job to job I've moved along.

Pay couldn't 'old me when my time was done,

For something in my 'ead upset it all,

Till I 'ad dropped whatever 'twas for good,

An', out at sea, be'eld the dock-lights die,

An' met my mate--the wind that tramps the world!


It's like a book, I think, this bloomin' world,

Which you can read and care for just so long,

But presently you feel that you will die

Unless you get the page you're readin' done,

An' turn another--likely not so good;

But what you're after is to turn 'em all.


Gawd bless this world! Whatever she hath done--

Excep' when awful long--I've found it good.

So write, before I die, "'E liked it all!"


I find this poem more stilted than most of Kipling's work. I suspect this

is due to the unusually rigorous demands of the form. I will say, however,

that the sestina form was much admired in period, and being able to write

in it was considered most impressive.


Alison MacDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*



Date: Wed, 20 Nov 91 08:10:09 EST

To: sca at mc.lcs.mit.edu

Message-Id: <memo.1498489 at lynx.northeastern.edu>

Subject: Documenting Poetry


Since I read the digest I must presume that the question has already

answered. But, if not, here is my humble answere.


Yes, you can document poetry.  And, if you are entering an A&S

competition I suggest that you do so.  This is for two reasons.


1) Some people in the SCA are obsessed with documentation.

   And, will be much happier if they see that you have done

   "serious research."


2) It really is true that those who read your poetry will be

   able to appreciate it much better if they have some background

   to go by.


As for the other question, I personally would prefer to see a

calligraphed version of the poetry in which the calligraphy

matched the period, ethos and style of the poem.  In addition,

I would like to see a typed version of the poem so that I could

read it easily.


Now for what to document.  Each culture frequently has more than

one kind of poem.  For example the same culture may have epic

poems, sonets, various song forms, etc. all extant at the same

time. Ideally, you should be able to say what it is about your

poetry that identifies it as one of the particular poetic forms

of the culture it is identified with.


Further, taking a poorly remembered example from High School English.

Very early English poetry (supposably) was based upon meter.  That is

it did not depend on assonance at all.  And, there are still English

poems which are written with a strong sense of meter.  Thus, if your

poetry has a meter it should be possible to identify it and to discuss

when that meter is known to have been used in English poetry.


Later, alliteration became popular.  And still later, under the

influence of the Norman French, ryhme schemes became popular.


There also are example of acrostics in poetry.  The examples that

I am most familiar with are in Hebrew poems.


In short, I suspect that there is much that you can say about your

poetry. I wish you every success at your upcoming arts competition.


                                       Solveig Throndardottir



Poetic debate, round 2

15 Jun 92

From: lawbkwn at buacca.BITNET (Yaakov HaMizrachi)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Organization: The Internet


Unto all who read these words, greetings

from Yaakov.


Most pleased and gratifed have I been

To see the responses to my humble challenge.

Many fine works of poetry seen

Far greater than my meager efforts could manage

(I, alas, on the language wreaked caranage)

But, if it please, for greater fun and not toil

Let us continue anew in round royal


The Lady Illaine quite rightly replied

That we sought to learn crafts, not just possess

For example, wool hand spun and dyed

Gives more pleasure than buying a dress

PErhaps, but what of the terrible mess?

The frustrations that we endure

For keeping our craft so pure


If making were effortless I would agree

That doing, not having, brings us joy

But as I suet o'er my poor poetry

Selecting each word with a critical eye

Hoping my miserable works don't annoy

I wish that a masterpiece I'd spun

With no more effort than playing in the sun


But we who labor under Adam's curse,

And make our goods from the suet of our brow

Know its the bread we would produce

And not the pain of a back bent down

We crave the pleasures and the renown

Of hard won skills.  I hope I'm showing

The joys in the having, not in the doing


(As I understand it, rhyme royal is


Good Mistress Dorigen, If you should

wish to contribute, and I dearly wish

you should--for surely then we would see

marvelous poetry to make poor poetasters

like myself green with envy--I would

be more than happy to forward to the net

anything you care to mail me.)

(BTW, has anyone been saving these?

It totally slipped my mind, curse me

for the fool I am!)





From: gary.spechko at t8000.cuc.ab.CA

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


Date: 15 Sep 1993 02:10:17 -0400

Organization: T-8000 Information System


* Reply to msg originally in rec_org_sca

Ne> Perhaps not limerics per se, but I suspect that there were common

Ne> meters around which vulgar poems were built.  In other words, the

Ne> mediaval equivalent of the social phenomenon of the limeric.

Ne> Probably many different meters, one for each town that was so

Ne> inclined.


It depends on the time in period, and on the country.  In England, most

period poetry was written in either Latin or Anglo-Saxon ('Old

English'). I will deal with Latin later.  Anglo-Saxon poetry did not

rhyme; it was entirely accentual verse (each line was broken in two. The

first part of the line has two hard-stress syllables, which were

alliterative in every case except for the very first line of the poem.

The second part of the line had *at least* one hard-stress syllable

which was alliterative with the hard-stress syllables in the first half

of the line).  This was the accepted form until well after the Norman

invasion (Piers Plowman, for example, is written in this style in Middle

English); almost to 1400.

The Normans introduced rhyming poetry to England in 1066.  It was, of

course, in French, and so the rhyme came easily and was not as important

as the meter, which tended to be syllabic (each line had the same number

of syllables, or was associated with those other lines which had the

same number of syllables), and to ignore stresses entirely.

Poetry that most modern readers would most easily recognize as such

didn't really occur until Chaucer's time (1375 or so), and wasn't in

truly recognizable English (English which the average first year

university student could understand) for well over another century, with

Sidney and Spenser (b.1552) and Shakespeare. This sort of poetry is

accentual-syllabic, and is the style used in the vast majority of

English language poetry in the world today. (Note: period English

changed very quickly in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, from

being very difficult to to the point where it is very easily


Poetry elsewhere in Europe followed either the syllabic verse style

(the romance languages), or the accentual verse style (Germanic

languages). Latin was the one exception in western Europe.

Latin poetry tended to be written in quantitative meter verse, as was

Greek and Sanscrit poetry.  One counts the long and short syllables per

line, rather than stresses or simple syllables.



I hope this made some sense, and gives a general understanding of period

poetry (and I hope, therefore is suitable for this newsgroup).  A far

better explanation than this can be found in Fussell's excellent

_Poetic_Meter_and_Poetic_Form_ (ISBN 0-07-553606-4).

     ,     ,

- Thore de Bethume,



MKA: Gary Spechko                      SCA: Thore de Bethume

          Internet: gary.spechko at t8000.cuc.ab.ca




Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: steveo at nmt.edu (Steven L Anderson)

Subject: Re: Viking booze

Organization: Fugacious Thoughts, Inc.

Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 21:36:59 GMT


>>>>> "C" == C Kevin Kellogg <kellogg at rohan.sdsu.edu> writes:

In article <45jeqb$kr8 at gondor.sdsu.edu> Avenel Kellough (kellogg at rohan.sdsu.edu - C. Kevin Kellogg) writes:


   A> The first is that in several places (the Flyting of Loki, and a

   A> lay involving Thor asking a Dwarf about lore) there seems to be

   A> little distinction between types of beverages.  The same cup

   A> will be described, sometimes in the same stanza, of being

   A> filled with ale, beer, mead, or wine.  Is this an actual Old

   A> Norse linguistic character (like the blue/black thing), or is

   A> it an artifact of translation?  Does Old Norse actually have 6

   A> different words for mead, but the translator had to use

   A> exceedingly different English words because we lack the proper

   A> vocabulary?


Greetings Avenel!


In Eddaic poetry, the writer would often use a form called a kenning

for description.  It's nearest English equivalent is an analogy.  For

instance, a "fence of trees" might be used to mean a shieldwall - the

trees are shields with the fence implying the formation.  They used

kennings for many things including rhythm, rhyme, and to show their

wit. Kennings actually rather difficult to do, and doing one well was

considered a sign of talent.  


So, the cup filled with ale/beer/mead/wine was most likely the same

thing, a cup of some generic alcoholic beverage.  However, the writer

would make a kenning based on that to fit the poem, which might make a

translation a little confusing.  Also, a translator would have a very

difficult time using kennings without massively rewriting the poem.

Such a translation would also have to have a huge number of

annotations to explain to the reader the kennings.


I believe the reference to a "brewing kettle" is also a direct

translation of a kenning, but I can only guess on that one.  Or it

could be that the writer was using it like I might say "stew pot" -

not implying that stew is the only thing I ever make in that pot.


Two really interesting books on Norse Scaldic and Eddaic poetry can be

found in the following books:


at Book{Turville76,

author={E.O.G. Turville-Petre},

title={Scaldic Poetry},

publisher={Oxford, at the Clarendon Press},




at Book{Frank78,

author={Roberta Frank},

title={Old Norse Court Poetry},

publisher={Cornell University Press},

where={Ithaca, New York},



Something I am interested in (on a similar subject) are SCA style

kennings. "Field of trees" is still appropriate (even with people

using metal shields), but I'd be interested in hearing others.


                       -Erik Sanvik       


* Steven L. Anderson                      steveo at nmt.edu              *

* 208 6th Street                        steveo at prism.nmt.edu         *

* Socorro, NM 87801                     (505)835-5144                *




From: ddfr at best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Viking booze

Date: 18 Oct 1995 05:37:57 GMT

Organization: Best Internet Communications


> Greetings Avenel!


> In Eddaic poetry, the writer would often use a form called a kenning

> for description.  It's nearest English equivalent is an analogy.

>                         -Erik Sanvik    


That is true of skaldic poetry, but I didn't think kennings were used in

the Elder Edda--at least, I cannot off hand think of any in the bits I am

familiar with. The skaldic kennings were often based on material in the

Edda, but that does not mean that the Edda contained kennings.


David/Cariadoc (with apologies because it is late and I don't feel like

searching my library to make sure that my memory is right on this)


ddfr at best.com



From: kellogg at rohan.sdsu.edu (C. Kevin Kellogg)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Viking booze

Date: 18 Oct 1995 14:54:02 GMT

Organization: San Diego State University Computing Services


Steven L Anderson (steveo at nmt.edu) wrote:


: In Eddaic poetry, the writer would often use a form called a kenning

: for description.  It's nearest English equivalent is an analogy.  For

: instance, a "fence of trees" might be used to mean a shieldwall - the

: trees are shields with the fence implying the formation.  They used

: kennings for many things including rhythm, rhyme, and to show their

: wit.  Kennings actually rather difficult to do, and doing one well was

: considered a sign of talent.  


        I am aware of kennings, but I was under the impression that,

while they do occur in Eddaic verse, they were far more common in skaldic

poetry. At least some of the kennings were translated, and at least one

of the lays is noted by the translator for having kennings in a frequency

approaching skaldic verse.


        Actually, I like kennings.  They're a kind of poetic viking Jeopardy!.

really tests one's knowledge and ability to visualize metaphors.


: So, the cup filled with ale/beer/mead/wine was most likely the same

: thing, a cup of some generic alcoholic beverage.  However, the writer

: would make a kenning based on that to fit the poem, which might make a

: translation a little confusing.  Also, a translator would have a very

: difficult time using kennings without massively rewriting the poem.

: Such a translation would also have to have a huge number of

: annotations to explain to the reader the kennings.


        The addition I have is pretty heavily annotated anyway,  Of course,

I'm one of those weird people that finds the footnotes as interesting

as the text.


        One lay, in particular, is a didactic poem that sets forth the

names of things in the worlds of the Aesir, Vanir, Men, Alfs, Dwarves, and

Hel's minions.  In the stanza about alcohol, the translator uses the

terms ale, beer, mead, draft(I'm not positive on this one), and wine.

These are very different things in my mind.


: I believe the reference to a "brewing kettle" is also a direct

: translation of a kenning, but I can only guess on that one.  Or it

: could be that the writer was using it like I might say "stew pot" -

: not implying that stew is the only thing I ever make in that pot.


        That would make sense.  Just meaning, "a pot big enough to

cook enough wort to make beer sufficient for all these deadbeats in

one batch".  I notice that Aegir never seems to get a reciprocal invite

to Valholl.  I think the Wanderer can be a bit of a cheapskate.


        Thanks for the references, I'll see if the benighted library of

SDSU has them.


               Avenel Kellough



Subject: BG - Sonnets

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 98 13:08:52 MST

From: gemartt at mail.utexas.edu

To: bryn-gwlad at Ansteorra.ORG


I've recently learned that sonnets date back to the early 13th century, and

that the first person known to have published sonnets, is a Sicilian named

Giacomo da Lentini.  Within a hundred years, it would become a very popular

form of Italian poetry.  Dante (1265-1321) wrote sonnets, but it is

Petrarch (1304-1374) who is considered the master of this early form of



Eventually Petrarch's poetry would be introduced in Spain by the Marquis de

Santillana, into France by Clement Marot, and translated into English by

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547).

Surrey's translations did not follow the traditional Petrarchian rhyme

scheme, and were the basis for original English sonnets, which became very

popular in the court.


                           Thomas of Tenby



Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 19:54:28 MST

From: "Caley Woulfe" <cwoulfe at life.edu>

Subject: ANST - Fw: [TY] more poems

To: "Ansteorran List" <ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG>


-----Original Message-----

From: Jean Corbin <JCorbin at celticcat.com>

To: TY at reashelm.ce.utk.edu <TY at reashelm.ce.utk.edu>

Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 12:50 PM

Subject: [TY] more poems


>From: THLady Amarath Jean yr Raven (1/2 Welsh, 1/2 Irish)

>           who loves good poetry and songs,

>In my library, I have a trio of books that Ye might find of intrest,

>acquired only this year through that honorable establishment of Barnes and


>1.. "A History of Wales" (Davies, John)

>       IBNS # 0-713-99098-8.....718 pages; excellent  info. for

>       our personas during medieval times.

>2...."Strongholds and Sanctuaries, the Borderland of England and

>        Wales" (Peters, Ellis &  Morgan, Roy) ISBN# 0-7509-

>        0200-0 ....and/or ....9-780-750-902007...184 pages. Color

>         photos throughout of castles, abbeies, and churches, and

>         battlefields, rivers and caves and standing stones, etc.

>         History such as: " In the last stages of the war of 1282

>         Llewelyn had gone south into the region of Builth to try

>         and raise further allies, while his brother David held the

>         position in the north as well as he could. Not far from

>         these rocks (in the photo), wher the little River Edw

>         empties into the Wye under these rocks,   Llewelyn was

>         killed in the last throes of a fight that had declimated his

>         forces in his absence, a local man having betrayed to the

>         English a secret ford which enabled them to cross the river

>         undetected and surround the Welsh, who had expected

>         attack only by the bridge. After Llewelyn's death David,

>         so long uncertain in his loyalties, assumed the burden his

>         brother had left behind, and carried it faithfully to its

>         tragic end."

>3. ..."The Triumph Tree" (edited by Clancy, Thomas Owen)

>        ISBN# 0-86241-787-2 Scotland's earliest poetry ; 6th

>        century to 1350 A.D...Translated from Latin, Welsh,

>        Gaelic, Old English, and Norse..With a pronounciation

>        guide (Welsh and Gaelic) for words, place-names,  and

>        Personal-names.



From: Paul DeLisle <ferret at hot.rr.com>

Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003  1:24:02 PM US/Central

To: "D. Vandever" <hlannes at ev1.net>, "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA,  Inc."

<ansteorra at ansteorra.org>

Subject: RE: [Ansteorra] Needing help for learning how to document


> I recently

> wrote and performed a bit of original poetry and a classic story

> at a bardic circle. The judges were complimentary but very united

> in their opinion that I needed to learn how to document the

> styles I wrote and performed in. Now way back in high school, 35

> or 40 years ago, I vaguely remember something about *iambic

> pentameter* from my junior English class but that is just about

> it. If there are folks out there in the ether (and I'm sure there

> are) who can help me find, learn, document what poetry and story

> styles I use or might use, I would be most grateful for your input.

> HL Annes Clotilde von Bamburg

> Shire of GatesEdge


Here's a couple of quick links:





or, if you *really* want to get complex:


(this is a primer on Welsh poetry meters...)


Those can get you in the right direction...but I recommend a good book

on the subject (haunt the second-hand shops, or the College textbook






Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 10:41:28 -0500 (EST)

From: <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: [SCA-AS] SCOUT Report: Love & Yearning Interactive

To: Arts and Sciences in the SCA <artssciences at lists.gallowglass.org>


From the Internet Scout Report:


11. Love & Yearning Interactive: Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleries



The Smithsonian Institution presents this interactive web exhibit in

concert with a larger show of illustrated manuscripts based on Persian

lyrical poetry from the 15th to 17th centuries. The interactive website

features the Haft awrang (Seven Thrones) composed by Abdul-Rahman Jami

(1441-1492). The Haft awrang consists of seven poems, such as The Gift of

the Free, a series of moral tales on topics such as the creation of the

world, and the temptations of beauty, power and poetry. Select a poem, and

browse through a series of windows, showing the full page spread in the

original manuscript, zoomable details, and a summary of the story of each

poem. In some cases, an audio track with captions adapted from Marianna

Shreve Simpson, Persian Poetry, Painting and Patronage: Illustrations in A

Sixteenth-Century Masterpiece plays as you view the images, accompanied by

meditative Persian music. [DS]


-- Pani Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 06:12:10 +1000

From: Raymond Wickham <insidious565 at hotmail.com>

Subject: [Lochac] full review available for Old English Metre: An


To: <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


Terasawa, Jun. <i>Old English Metre: An Introduction</i>. Toronto:

University of Toronto Press, 2011. Pp. xiv, 154, [viii]. $19.95;

GBP 13. ISBN-10: 1442611294, ISBN-13: 9781442611290.


Jun Terasawa's "Old English Metre: An Introduction" is a textbook

aimed at the beginning student. It introduces students to what is in

essence the approach to scansion and understanding of Old English

metre developed by Eduard Sievers in the nineteenth century and later

improved upon and further developed by A. J. Bliss in the 1960s

(Sievers 1885, 1893; Bliss 1962, 1967).


So "Old English Metre: An Introduction" is probably

more useful as a resource for the teacher and advanced student of Old

English poetry than it is as a textbook for a class of beginners.

While better resources exist for teaching the principles of the

Sievers-Bliss system to novices, there are few if any better sources

for excellent exercise questions, topics for discussion, and

interesting advanced problems in the application of metrical

principles to literary problems.



Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2012 23:04:23 +1100

From: Ian Whitchurch <ian.whitchurch at gmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Period Writing Styles/Examples/Advice

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


For sixteenth century English poetry, you cant go past George

Gascoigne's Certayne Notes of Instruction - an instruction book for

writing poetry, by a working 16thC English poet.




Quick tip on three hundred and change years of words changing - when

he says Invention, we would use the word idea. When he says verse we

would say line, and when he says staffe, we would say verse.


I would also recommend Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to you most strongly.


Earlier, you cant go past Malory's Morte d'Arthur and so on.


Hope this helped, and Im happy to talk further about this.


Anton de Stoc

At Rowanie

XVI Februarie, sh+m



Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2013 09:00:49 -0800 (PST)

From: Elspeth Payne <ebpayne at yahoo.com>

To: "atlantia at seahorse.atlantia.sca.org"

        <atlantia at seahorse.atlantia.sca.org>

Subject: [MR] The entire Anglo Saxon poetic record read aloud


A professor at Wheaton College (MA)? has posted files of Anglo-Saxon poems being read aloud. He's either already recorded the entire Anglo-Saxon poetry corpus or is working on it (I didn't check, mea culpa).



Baroness Sorcha of Storvik



Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 00:26:58 -0500

From: Lara Coutinho <orange at indy.net>

Subject: [MR] Gyrth Oldcastle Poetry Smackdown...resources?


So, if I wanted to participate in the most awesome Gyrth Oldcastle Memorial Poetry Smackdown at Kingdom A&S Fest in ten days, and I don't

have but a few minutes to do research into what in the world are the  styles of poetry that were practiced in the 4 different time periods defined for the competition

(http://brighthills.net/events/KASF2014Competitions_Poetry.html), where would I start to find a starter kit of "pre-1600 Poetry 101" online?



Not meant as an exhaustive list, but here are some links and keywords to try.



Alliterative verse (Old English)



You can also use this (more or less, if you squint) for Norse Fornyr?islag. I'm not sure of the dates on Fornyr?islag - I think it might be one of those 'we think it's really old but the first manuscript is from the 13th cen' things.


If you want to rhyme, there's various kinds of Latin poetry:



Not much experience here myself, alas.  "Ambrosian hymns" are pretty close to modern songs in form, but I can't quickly track down their rhythm and meter.



Chansons de geste:

Octosyllabic rhyming couplets. As many as you need to tell your story.


The French apparently didn't fuss much with stress, the way we do (something about the prosody of their language) but most folks working in English who adapt this (including Chaucer) usually end up using iambic tetrameter.


Trobadour and trouvere poetry got started hereabouts, too.


Check out canso, sirventes, and tensos.  Verse forms haven't been regularized yet, so it's very much do it yourself.





You get to define your own stanza form!  The same pattern of the refrain has to make up part of each verse, though.



A fixed form of the same period:




More octosyllabic rhyming couplets, telling stories that often lampoon jealous husbands, crooked priests, etc.



Octosyllabic rhyming couplets, telling stories about knights and ladies and grails and such


Geoffrey Chaucer

He used many forms, including rhyming couplets of iambic tetrameter.  He also used rhyme royal:



Some of your "old Norse" poetry is preserved in manuscripts of this era, I think.  Ditto on the Irish stuff (which has very strange rules I haven't been able to find Cliff Notes versions of.)


Englyn Milwr - the simplest Welsh form, 14th cen




Sonnets - Petrarchian or Shakespearean!

Blank verse - To be or not to be, that is the question...

I'm not certain, but I'd bet a box of doughnuts that someone, somewhere, is still composing in octosyllabic rhyming couplets.

English ballad meter shows up around this time too (If you can sing it to Amazing Grace or the theme to Gilligan's Island, you're in ballad meter)


Good luck!  I did it last year and had a blast.  This year - still writing Pentathalon documentation...




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