I and a few other Politarchopolans had the idea of starting a guild or society within the SCA for singers and poets, with the idea that it might encourage a little more performace. We worked out a charter and set up a mailing list. Unfortunately, it sunk, partly because a couple of the members insisted that any sort of hierarchy or ranking system was entirely too medieval for their twentieth century tastes, but mostly because Lochac, outside of Rowany Festival, is totally uninterested in singing unless it’s being done by someone else, and even then they won’t stop nattering. Bitter? Me? Naaah.
Let the rabble cease its babble, and be silent!
Let the masters hush as fast as hunted birds!
Let the clatters of the platters now give way to other matters,
Let the chatter stop or scatter as we speak our solemn words.
In the Barony of bold Politarchopolis
In the lumpy land of Lochac, in the West,
There are groups and guilds to fit a fine metropolis,
But with minstrels, sad to say, the town’s not blest.
Now there comes the sound of drums and timbrels playing;
Here a voice will loud rejoice and sing its theme;
Here the dancers take their chances with the feasting hall’s expanses,
And the writers of romances join the prancers in the team!
There was once a clever dunce who rode with William,
When he fought King Harald’s court on Hastings hill.
He was there, and fought with flair, and he was known as Taillefer,
Singing airs upon his mare and juggling swords — and then got killed.
Now we beg our noble lords to grant this charter,
To the minstrels, fools and dancers everywhere:
We would like to name our group for that old martyr
And be called (I quote:)
The Worshipful Company of Minstrels, Mummers, Minnesingers and Fools,
Fabliers and Gleemen, Gauklers, Jesters, Joculators and Jongleurs,
Troubadours, Trouveres, Blacksmiths,
Dancers, Chanters, Rhymers and Cantors of Taillefer.
(It’s a title whose recital isn’t vital: non-grammarians
All can choose to lose the blues and simply call us Tailleferians.)
Should you grant the gift we ask, oh bravest Baron;
Should you hear our heartfelt plea, our Baroness;
Let us offer you our choice as your household’s minstrel voice,
For a twelvemonth and a day to serve your court with words and play.
Use him well, this Court Minstrel; but not to keep;
When you take him, please don’t break him: bards aren’t cheap.
We shall wear upon our hair, or in our sporrans,
Something clear and very dear, our own device:
On a horse a man (of course), jug’ling swords with fire and force,
Singing songs and righting wrongs and bashing saxons once or twice.
When we find a welcome kind of invitation,
When the folk would share a joke or hear a song,
We shall sing, and praise our King, and dance and leap and rhyme and spring,
And bring some zing to everything, and entertain the milling throng.
We shall share good Taillefer, our inspiration;
We shall teach our skill to each inquiring heart;
We shall try until we die to train the voice and hand and eye
Of any mindful passerby who wants to ply the minstrel’s art.
There is honour in the art of entertaining,
But the company shall never so require;
Should a minstrel’s pride and ego need restraining,
We shall make him think his nadgers are on fire!
We shall spank those fools whose rank is false inflated;
We shall curse with violent verse the ones who boast;
We shall maim the ones who shame the minstrel martyr’s mortal name
And do the same to all whose aim is to defame to our loyal host.
May god save the nasty knave who sings for silver;
God forgive the ones who live to sneak and spy;
There’s no place in heaven’s space for any minstrels who disgrace
Our Baron’s face or who debase the company we occupy.
There it is, the most respectable of charters:
If it please you, seal it now with word and wax.
We shall sing and leap and dance and play sonatas,
Knowing well our noble Baron guards our backs.