Bury Me at Pennsic

One of early hits, it’s the best darn country-western song I could write.  A huge hit in Fenix, not so much in Caer Antwerth Maer.

My boots are full of rain and mud, I got duct tape on my chin…
But I gotta get to Resurrection Point, so I can live again.
As we walk onto the battlefield, you can hear the people cheer,
Hey buddy, why don’t we blow this joint and go get us a beer.

Chorus:
Bury me at Pennsic, for that is where I’ll die,
I always dream of Cooper’s Lake… where the dragons fly!
I don’t need no funeral parlor, you can dump me in my armor
When you bury me at Pennsic, for that is where I’ll die.

Chorus:

Pennsic days are burning hot, most nights are freezing cold
And every morning I get up and wash off all the mold
I need a heighlan’ woman who will help me with my sin
‘Cause I sold my sole to the Devil — if the MidRealm would only win!

Chorus:

My lady she likes shopping at all the merchants there…
By the time that she gets done, my money pouch is bare!
When the war is over, we all make our own way home —
That’s when I go down to the bank, and get me an equity loan.

Chorus:

They’re calling us to fight now, so I gotta go.
We’ve got to have the Bridge Battle, becuase it just might snow…
I got rust in my chain mail and my padding is mildewed,
And I got tears in my helmet — from crying over you

Home, home on the range…
Where the griffin and manticore play
And seldom is heard, even a bird,
‘Cause the dragon’s been eating all day!

Chorus:

© 1995 Drew Nicholson

Ask Me If I Love You

by Andrew Blackwood MacBaine the Purple
© 1994 Drew Nicholson

So you ask me if I love you
and I say I do,
like the wind love the stars and the sky.

No more searching all alone,
come make with me a home,
Turn around and look into my eyes.

Well, my haven and my castle
are the world around.
I travel the land every day.

When we rest I’ll sing you songs and things
to make you smile.
Now my love, hear what I’ve got to say…

Will you come and spend your life
with one such as I,
Will you be with me in though, word and deed?

Will you take me for your partner,
will you be my friend?
Oh, my love, will you marry me?
Oh, my love, will you marry me?

So… you ask me if I love you… and I say I do.

As It Should Have Been

This song was written for TRM Alaric and Noelle at the ending of Their Reign, for which I was Kingdom Bard.  It’s an expansion of a topic I had with HL Lorelie Skye, and this is actually one of two versions.  The other, which is lost, detailed more members of the staff.  I’ve always wanted to build a less specific foundation for this song, but I’m loath to remove it from the context of days where we changed the SCA and the Kingdom.

King leads us to victory, Queen gracious at his side,
All of us who fought for them, we would not be denied!
Marching onward in their name, our blades and armor bright,
Marching onward with the storm, in the fire’s light.

CHORUS
Say farewell now unto the past, embrace it one more time;
Look around you in the moment, see all those who shine;
Farewell unto the past my friends, embrace it once again,
Living life not as it was, but as it should have been…

Champion of roses stands behind his queen, a task
Given by the king, he knows he will do what he’s asked
To never let a harm befall her, is his only trust
For the gift of one sweet smile, he will to all he must

CHORUS

Champion of swords stands brave, next to his liege and lord
He wears his honor on his sleeve, the dragon’s faith restored
Beside his King he wades into the fray of battle’s throng
With his sword and shield he fights, the dragon’s right arm, strong.

CHORUS

Captain of the Guard there stands, with troops all battleworn.
Weary yes, but know we are to dragon victory born!
Now we stand before the world, our heads and banners high,
And triumphant, Dragon wheels up in a cloudless sky!

CHORUS

Here I am, a humble bard, to speak the dragon’s praise,
and I say, through passing years, we will sing of these days
When stag and cross of gold did stand with dragon up above
And led us on to victory with honor, grace and love!

Chorus

© 2014 Drew Nicholson

Always, I Have You

For Brannos & Rebekah

Though I do not have a sword in stone, nor holy grail round,
There is no star above my head to sanctify my crown,
Of ‘dwen’s Cauldron I do not posess, a lack I do not rue,
For though I do not have these things… Always, I have you.

Arthur held on high his Guenivere, to lose to Lancelot,
Romeo did live for Juliet, though short time did Death alot.
Prince Llewellyn slew brave Gelert, though his loyalty was true,
But I will rise where they did fail… Always, I have you.

Hector fell before his city’s gates, Achilles’ victim there,
In the Pyrenees did Roland pass, as he brought his horn to bear,
From a broken heart the hunter died, and there the white dove flew,
I close my eyes and see your face… Always, I have you.

So take my hand and bear the crown I won for you that day
Your dignity upheld me as I struggled through the fray
We’ll hold these thrones with grace and care, our reign begins anew
My queen, my light, my happiness, Always, I have you.

For you are the air in my lungs, the strength in my good arms,
I will fight with valor for your sake, to keep you from all harm,
Every effort that I undertake, and action that I do
Accomplishments in your good name, from first to last for you.

Though I do not have a sword in stone, nor holy grail round,
There is no star above my head to sanctify my crown,
Of ‘dwen’s Cauldron I do not posess, a lack I do not rue,
For though I do not have these things… Always, I have you.

All Well In Hand

When I was a stripling lad, in Sherwood Forest,
killed deer with a bow that was taller than me.
At twelve I was squired to Sir Robin of Locksley,
when we arrived in Palestine I was taller than he.
We fought off the Sarecens, Robin and I, and we rescued the king from their spies.
But when Robin was captured, the king wept for days…
And I fancied I heard Robin’s cries.

well I hunted with Robin and I fought for the king!
Oh, the tales my old bones would tell if they could sing,
and I loved to see Richard lean back in his chair and say, “Robin has all well in hand…”

We stayed in Promised land far from Sherwood Forest,
killing around us with nary a tear.
One day came the word that we’d awaited for ages —
Of Robin in England did we joyfully hear.
I then turned to Richard, a’ready to leave, but he told me to make camp right there.
“Good Robin will keep England quite safe for me,
“and my enemies had best beware!”

chorus

Then came the message from old Sherwood Forest,
that Prince John was grinding the folk to the ground.
But Richard refused to leave, not even bothered.
“With Robin to chase him, he’ll never be found.
“John has dug his grave and Nottingham’s too, with Marion locked a cell,
“Robin will free her as I live and breathe —
“Maid Marion will be quite well.”

chorus

I finally came back to my dear Sherwood Forest,
beside good King Richard we hit London town.
Found Robin and Marion with children already,
and soldiers a’plenty to hunt Prince John down.
“Nottingham’s dead and your kingdom is sound,” Robin remarked with a smile.
“I told you,” said Richard, “that England was fine,
“In good Robin Hood’s hands all the while!”

chorus

Well Robin died yesterday, near Sherwood Forest,
in the trees is an arrow that marks where he lies.
But England is safe from all those who would harm her
and the forest now echoes with children’s clear cries.
The king said to me, “Oh, my friend, don’t you cry! Instead you should be very glad.
“For though Robin’s not with us, he’s heaven bound now,
“and I’m sure he’ll have all well in hand.”

lyrics & melody by Andrew Blackwood MacBaine the Purple, OW
© 1996 Drew Nicholson

All For You

I started off trying to write a song about Agape, or the love warriors have for each-other.  Non-romantic love.  Well, it’s sort of worked.  Maybe.

I see you standing in front of the gates
Spear and banner in hand
You fight for your king, you fight for your lord
You fight for a parcel of land
But I do not care for your loyalty strong
Or fealty to lord above
I only know how to battle for you
I fight for my brother’s love

I followed you here on this your quest
To prove your bravery to all
I polished your helmet and mended your boots
And carried your shield to the hall
And even onto the exercise field
I carried my sword and my maile
Together we learned how to be soldiers true
Together we learned we can’t fail

My sword, my shield, my love for you
My heart, my mind, my soul
For our love, Brothers true, few e’re know
All for you
All for you

But now all I see is destruction and dust
As you stand at the fore of the line
How can I keep you safe and secure
How can I save you this time
I try to run up to your side
But my rank is too far away
And from far behind you I see you charge
I see you plunge in the fray

Chaos surrounds us as if in a storm
The order of battle is lost
Over and over the foemen attack
We push them back at great cost
Confusion clears, for a moment I see
You back to back with your lord
But then I am faced with a foe of my own
And you are engulfed by the horde

My sword, my shield, my love for you
My heart, my mind, my soul
For our love, Brothers true, few e’re know
All for you
All for you

So my brother, our travels are done
Only one last walk to go
The wagon jolts in the ruts of the road
Carrying cargo of woe
Soon will come to tell mothers the tale
Of how you and I came to be
laid in the ground for my brotherly love
And by your blind loyalty.

My sword, my shield, my love for you
My heart, my mind, my soul
For our love, Brothers true, few e’re know
All for you
All for you

(performed at Bardic Madness South XVI, November 15, 2014)

A Poem for Dame Eleanor

On the Occasion of her Elevation to Pelican

Back in the days of Asgeirr, in the lands of Calontir,
Two maidens rode to Axed Root, for lodgings they’d find there.

The map they had was faulty, and they soon had lost their way,
For help they beseeched passersby, weary of the day.

One lord did come unto their aid, Lord Angus was that man,
And when the horse, exhausted, died, he offered them his hand.

He took them to their lodgings then, he looked after their things,
And in the morning, when they awoke, a new horse he did bring.

That man became a MidRealm knight, one maid this lady here.
Sir Angus Ulrich was that lord, in his honor, the Saltire.

Though this lady traveled far and wide across the whole known world,
She always kept that aid in mind, with a motto on banner unfurled.

From Tirenwydd to Calontir, Calontir to Ravenslake,
Then to Northshield where she’s made a home, that ethic she did take.

Purple fret from Good King Ronin, as Oaken Regional Chirugeon,
Apprentice to sweet Master Dougal, may his light shine ever on.

Calontiri Kingdom Chirugeon, service marked with a Torse,
Service rendered in the memory of Lord Angus and that horse.

Through the birth of her son Patrick, then she came to know desire,
To be closer to her family, to be closer to hearth fire.

Ravenslake a friendly beacon, brought them home to Dragon’s Den.
Peace and happiness brought Susan, the little daughter she had then.

On to Northshield she did travel, with her family in tow,
Became Acting Chirugeon General, when the twin towers were laid low.

Chirugeon for the Northshield also, this lady did complete her part
For which Tarrach and his Fina rewarded her with Dragon’s Heart.

Through all these trials and joyful days, the aid that Lord Angus had done
Helped her to remember always: temper work with happy fun.

So now a Pelican will be made, of this lady, Eleanor,
Her ready smile and her service, these are what it’s given for.

The Northshield is now on its journey, towards independence soon,
The Compass Rose will shine so brightly, under sun, and under moon.

And dear Eleanor will shine on, bright, too, in the light and in the dark,
As she follows the motto Angus bred: ‘Ars Utilis” – Honest Work.

The Lineage of Ragnvaldr — A Process

So I did this poem for my friend.  He is Ragnvaldr Jonnson, and He is the current King of the MidRealm, with His Queen, Arabella.

I first met Ragnvaldr during Their first reign, in the spring of 1999.  It was at a melee event called Baron Wars, near Toledo, Ohio.  He was King, and I was the Premiere of the Company of the Bronze Ring, a new White-Scarf equivalent MidRealm order for Rapier combat.  I got to know Him slightly over the next several months, but we parted as friendly acquaintances.

The next time I encountered Ragnvaldr was when He and Arabella chose me to be Their Rapier Champion for Their second reign, in the winter of 2001-2002.  I was welcomed into the “family” that any reign has the capacity to be; held equal in position and responsibility as the King’s and Queen’s Champions.  I worked my butt off, driving all over the MidRealm (which in those days included the Northshield) providing Them with all the service I could muster.  One lasting memory is of Ragnvaldr and I, late at night in the dark basement of His house, making me a pole-arm to use the in the morning at the event Clancy Day.  Another memory I have is of one of Arabella’s Queen’s Guard, Oscad, cutting off his luxurious long hair and giving it to Her.

For that reign, I wrote The Tales of Ragnvaldr, an attempt at writing the tale of His victory in the style of the Canterbury Tales. It was a glorious reign.

But for Ragnvaldr & Arabella’s third reign, I wanted to try to do something really special.  Ragnvaldr & Arabella are some of the least boastful people I know.  They are always happy to praise others, rarely asking or expecting praise for Themselves.  But to me, They deserved praise beyond praise.  Twice They had reigned, as some of the most beloved Royalty of the MidRealm, and I wanted to do something that was worthy of Them.

So the Lineage of Ragnvaldr really started then.  After the tournament was done, I watched the fights over and over again, thinking that I could write something in style of a Boast, of His overwhelming victory on the lists.  But that seemed too petty for such an august occasion (although I am going to write a song from the viewpoints of each of them, and the refrain will be “he hit me, and I died”) so I started thinking about how I didn’t really know much about His early time in the SCA, or Arabella’s, for that matter.  I knew that Ragnvaldr had been squired to Forgan, but when I looked at the Lineage Document that traces the lineage of each Knight through his or her Knight back to the beginning of the Kingdom, I saw that Forgan had never been a squire.

When I enquired, Ragnvaldr told me that He thought that Forgan had been mostly taught by Sir Garraghan, who had been one of the Northwoods Knights of the time.  I reached out to my good friend Kith von Atzinger, who put me in touch with Sir Garraghan, and he and I spent several hours talking about Forgan, Sir Garraghan himself, his Knight, Sir Elestron, and Elestron’s Knight, Duke Dagan.  When I realized that I could (with a little fudging) trace Ragnvaldr’s lineage back to Dagan, I knew I had my framework.  Besides, never let the truth get int he way of a good story, right?

So I started the process of turning my discussions with Sir Garraghan into poetry.  I quickly realized that I needed more information about Forgan, Ragnvaldr and Arabella, and I turned to Her for that.  Over the course of about 90 minutes at a lovely event called St. Cecelia in the Tower, we conversed, and I got most of the rest of the information I needed.  Finally, about four days before Coronation, I began writing.

The original version of The Lineage of Ragnvaldr is about a page and a half long, and was completed the Thursday before Coronation.  It’s all prose, and it’s completely overloaded with kennings, and it had no Norse Voice at all.  I needed help, but I wanted to talk to someone who had no knowledge of Ragnvaldr or Arabella at all.  I needed a bard of experience, someone who understood the Norse Voice, who I knew would immediately dedicate themselves to helping me.  I knew exactly who to turn to.  Aneleda Falconbridge, Court Baroness of the Kingdom of the East.

Here’s the first verse from the original:

Mighty are the MidRealm Ring-Breakers

Battle-children, Dragon-friends, Shield-gnawers, Stout linden trees, wide spread

Standing tall in elf-glory, or feather’s fall, Through Thor’s laughter, and Northern kiss.

They know not bed-shame, nor straw death,

but find the Rainbow Bridge by spear-din and sword-sleep.

Aneleda and I had met briefly at Pennsic, but it was when she came to Known World Cooks and Bards that I realized what our friendship could be.  And immediately, she did not fail to help me.  She helped me take it down a notch so the kennings weren’t so overwhelming.  She helped me rephrase things.  And I figured out that I was being too verbose, and so embarked on re-writing the entire piece in traditional Skaldic verse.  So now the first verse read thusly:

Battle-born / Gold Ring-Breakers

Mighty MidRealm / Dragon-daring

standing tall  / Through fierce Thor-strikes

Know not bed-shame / nor straw death,

in sword-sleep / aimed at Asgard.

But that still wasn’t going to work.  I love traditional norse verse as much as the next guy — probably more so — but I wanted to inspire the people of the MidRealm, and that meant I needed to be able to lift them up, higher and higher.  The piece needed to build and build.  To me, that required prose.  I lamented to Aneleda, “this isn’t going to work.  I don’t know how to mix them.”

And, of course, she came through for me again.  She showed me how to combine the verse and prose, which even has legitimate period precedent, into what may be the best thing I have ever done.

As a bard, I am consumed by process.  What makes a piece be inspiring?  What elevates emotions and how to I ensure that I can do it again and again?  Why does a band release one song that becomes a top-ten hit, and then the next song — from the same album, written in the same time period — flop?  These are some of the questions that I consider over and over again.  I don’t know if I have any answers.  I do know that this piece, when performed at Coronation, worked, and worked very well.  At least, that’s what I’ve been told, since I have no actual memory of the telling.

The original version of The Lineage of Ragnvaldr can be found here.

The first re-write of the Lineage of Ragnvaldr can be found here.

The final version of the Lineage of Ragnvaldr can be found here.

And as a special treat, I have also created an annotated version of the Lineage of Ragnvaldr, here.

I hope you enjoy them.

 

Andrew