The Three Gifts

Another Bardic duty, reporting the honour bestowed upon three Politarchopolans at the Yule Feast in Rowany, when King Veniamin and Queen Aeron attended, and knighted Hugh the Little, made Kiriel a Court Baroness, and awarded Bess Haddon the Lochac Order of Grace. The style of this poem (ABABBCBCC with 5 beats to the first 8 lines and 6 to the last) is called Spencerian, after Edmund Spencer who used it in his Faerie Queene.

[Hell-Week, December 1995]

O gracious Queen, of beauty, love and grace;
O King by might and will, of all the West:
To have you travel here and take your place
Within our halls and homes, our land was blest.
For many weeks before you came to rest
Within the sea-girt bounds of these domains,
You heeded every messenger’s request
As sent from Lochac’s shores; and took some pains
To weigh the words we spoke within your hearts and brains.

You weighed within your hearts a score of pleas,
And listened to our every humble word,
And learned, we now perceive, from all of these
Of three specific needs we all averred.
The gentlefolk for whom such speech was heard
Were three whose fame had spread throughout the land,
The first was Hugh, the second Bess, and third
Was Mistress Kiriel; to each you planned
To grant a gift, remembrance from your very hand.

The corps of knights, O King, you called to kneel
Before you, where you held your yuletide court;
Their eyes were bright, their swords of strongest steel,
And yet, you said, their number there was short.
Before you, Hugh the Little then was brought,
And for him in the band you made a space;
And never since a tourney first was fought,
Has any knight so rightly taken up a place,
For none can doubt his fitness who have seen his face.

Belovèd Queen, since first we heard you speak,
And saw the gentle smile within your eye,
We knew, as sure as heaven loves the meek,
To you our hearts would tend until we die.
But still, within our city wallèd high,
There lives a Mistress Bess, whose heart and ways
In beauty to your own are almost nigh;
For which she heard your call, and in a daze
Was named the gracious lady, which is fitting praise.

O Majesties, your wisdom grows and thrives;
No man denies your true beatitude.
To you we give the pledge of all our lives,
And pray you think our words are never crude.
But one exists, to whom our gratitude
So greatly swells that all of us confess:
Our Mistress Kiriel we long have viewed
As worthy of our love and nothing less:
And born to be our cherished Mistress Baroness.

Oh King and Queen, I beg you, understand,
And never be offended by my song.
In coming to your distant southern land,
You travelled many weeks and struggled long;
You met a thousand subjects in a throng:
Perhaps not every face was close observed;
But hear me speak: in this I tread not wrong;
In speaking thus I know the truth is served:
You honoured three whose honour was in truth deserved.