Kenric and Avelina, for their second Coronation, wanted a ceremony with an ‘early’ feel. I started ruminating on the small source material we have, thinking of what kind of processional might help set the mood.

The idea started with a laugh: I imagined Grim and me squaring-off like tournament fighters, holding lyres as shields and with our sword-arms miming ‘ready’. I realized I had to write a story of Kenric’s Kingmaking, in Old English, with lyre accompaniment. Grim, happily, was game.

I took to assembling the poem: using a Beowulf side-by-side translation, I selected a catalogue of lines that suited the story I wanted to tell. Molly recommended the Chickering for closeness of translation. Once the bones were in place, I highlighted the words/phrases I needed to change, and wrote sentences to connect the narrative.

Then I looked for replacement words/kennings. This part took the longest. I had to make the story flow, had to keep it short (no longer than 2 minutes of time, total) and had to merge alliterations and stresses for odd half-lines from the verses I’d picked. I used Molly’s course notes, then the online bosworth-toller, as a dictionary/thesaurus, double-checking definitions and picking the ones which agreed with each other and the sense I wanted.

Interesting substitutions:
for “scipes” (ship, i.e., the burning longship): “bǽl-fýr” (bale-fire, or pyre)
for “wiges” (battle): “wig-gomen” (war games)
for “Wedergeata” (men of the Weders): “weorold-cempa” (warrior of the world)
for “brimwylm” (surging lake): “wig-wylm” (surging battle)
for “laðgeteonan” (monster): “leód-mægen” (the might of a people; it’s fighting-men)
for “atole” (fierce rush, i.e., of swords): “þryðswyðe” (mighty)

At the last minute, I glued some bits together using a few found odd useful phrases using this online source:
http://www.heorot.dk/beowulf-rede-text.html. For all, I double-checked word definitions with the B-T.

Finally, Molly kindly reviewed my word choices and original verses, and corrected my grammar.

Then I split the finished poem into logical dramatic “lines”, assigning roles to the King’s Bard and myself accordingly. Once the parts were assigned I started thinking about appropriate accompaniment on the lyres.

All told, about 45 hours of work for me, 5 for Molly, and untold for Grim.

The finished product:

CYNE-WEORC : Kingmaking
by Myra Hope Eskridge, drawn from Beowulf

Old English Modern English
Hwæt! We Eást-thegns / in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, / þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas / ellen fremedon.
Listen! We have heard / of the East-thanes glory,
in the old days / the kings of tribes –
how noble princes / showed great courage!
Aledon þa / leofne þeoden,
beaga bryttan, / on bearm bǽl-fýres
They laid down the king / they had dearly loved
their tall ring-giver, / in the center of the bier.
Sin ge-swegra / weg-gomen com. His cousin / came to the tourney.
Eodon him þa togeanes, / gode þancodon,
ferþ-grim þegna heáp, / ferhþum fægne
They clustered around him, / his thanes
Fierce in battle / happy in their hearts
Tomas Hrafn-hyll maðelode, / on him tohte scan
Aras ða bi ronde / rof oretta,
heard under helme, / hiorosercean bær
Thomas Ravenhill spoke, / gleaming from battle
The famous champion / stood up with his shield
brave behind helmet / in hard war-shirt
“Eart þu se Essex, / se þe wið Edward wunne?” “Are you the same Essex / who challenged Edward?”
Kenric maþelode, / “Na! Ge-swegra ic beo!” Kenric replied, / “No! I’m his cousin!”
æfter þæm wordum / weorold-cempa leod
efste mid elne, / nalas ondsware
bidan wolde; / wig-wylm onfeng
After these words / the warrior of the world
turned boldly / would not wait
for answer / surging battle enfolded them.
Swa mec gelome / leód-mægen
þreatedon þearle / þryðswyðe ecgþræce
Kenric gemærunge gemacode / mægenræs forgeaf
hildebille, / Hrafn-hylle cwellede.
Again and again / the champions
made fierce attacks / with violent swordplay.
Kenric finished it. / He put his whole force
behind his sword-edge, / killed Ravenhill.
þa wæs Essex / heresped gyfen,
wig-gomen weorð-mynd, / þæt him his winemagas
ágirnon hyrdon. / Eode Avelina forð,
cwen Kenrices / cynna gemyndig,
Then Essex was given / victory in battle
such honor in the tourney / that the men of his house
eagerly served him / Avelina came forward
Kenric’s queen, / mindful of courtesies;
“Bruc ðisses cyne-rice, / Kenric leofa,
cen þec mid cræfte / ond þyssum cyn-ren
wes lara liðe; / Wes þenden þu lifige,
æþeling, eadig.”
“Enjoy this kingdom / the treasure of a people.
Make known your strength, yet be / to these common-folk
gentle in counsel. / While you may live,
be happy, O prince!”
þæt wæs god cyning! That was great king-ship!

The lyres Lucien and Grim play for their duet are on generous loan from two fantastic performers. Lucien’s is owned by Helen Cymbala, lead singer for the band Aering; Grim’s was constructed by David Friedman (SCA name: Cariadoc), and is on loan from Anne Rookey (SCA name: Anne of Framlingham). Many thanks to these wonderful people!


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