Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Epic Poetry

The whole point of this blog is to publish extracts from a potential epic poem so that my son can have it when it's done, and I shall attempt to write it in an interesting script.

Does it matter so much if I base it heavily on Beowulf?

Would you like to know more?

Another beginning:

Listen!  We of La Familias in past days,
heard of the clan heads, of their glory.
We know of their actions and their courage.
Owain protected the Dimwald from invaders
fought the hordes of the enemies to our clan,
held close those who needed succour and was as
Christ to those in need.
James, the elder, often worked long into the night
to provide his progeny with what was required.
Stephen, son of James, rose as a titan in Service
that all might know of safety and shelter.
Peter, son of Stephen, took a different path
that all might work as one for high aims.
They all have their work held in high reknown
and all have tasted their rewards on this Earth
sent by God Himself to lend to His people what
they wish for themselves.  But none are blameless.

To this line was born an heir
then young in the yards, God sent him
as comfort to his family; He had seen the dire distress
that they had suffered before, without heirs
but a daughter fair and strong
to carry the name La Familias.
Alfred was famed - his reknown spread wide -
Owain's heir, in northern lands.
So ought a young man by good deeds deserve,
by fine treasure, while in his father's keeping,
that in old-age shall again stand by
willing companions, when trouble comes,
people serve with him: by glorious deeds must,
amongst his people, everywhere, one prosper.

When James departed at the appointed time,
still in strength, to fare in the protection of God
they carried him to the Church hall,
his dear comrades and family, as he had wished,
when he had yet wielded words, that friend of La Familias,
beloved head of household, ruled for a long time;
there at the gate of Heaven stood with ringed prow,
icy and keen to sail, a hero's vessel;
then laid low, a beloved husband,
the giver of good things, in the bosom of the Earth,
the mighty by his deeds; many people were there,
from far off lands and far off deeds were his exploits told
I have heard not of more connected life adorned
with the tributes and trials of a father.

There's something about the English translation of Beowulf that lacks the original impact and power: hence my decision to use something akin to Old English to write this in a book bought for the purpose.

One of the obvious problems is that we already have an elder daughter, for whom an inheritance will be different.  I think it important that the Father-Son inheritance is given, that there be something tribal and old in the coming of age for Alfred.  I want this to be mystical and mysterious, powerful and personal.  I want to pass on a mythology to my son of which he can be proud but also choose to reveal it - something that he has complete control over.  I can pass on a poem and a sword, he will inherit much more than that.

What of my daughter?  I have no control over the timing of her coming of age and, the nature of it, I have little ken.  This is something that must be left to her mother, with whatever support she sees fit to ask of me of course, but this is something that, as a male, I should not intrude upon.  Does this make me misogynist?  I don't believe so.  If I truly want to aspire to a tribal structure, amended to take account of changed circumstances, and I truly want my family to be healthy then it follows that men help the boys and the women help the girls.  My daugher's charge, her ability to bear life and provide an anchor, is much harder and more important than anything I or my son can do.  I owe it to my son to provide some magic in his coming of age, my daughter will have that magic - without too much input.  All my wife and I need do with our daughter is guide her correctly, so that her coming of age is magic; with my son, I must create something for nature has not provided a similar ceremony.

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