This is long overdue, but other things kept getting in the way of posting it. Back at East Kingdom Twelfth Night in January, I transitioned teachers from Maistre Lucien de Pontivy of the East Kingdom to Mistress Zsof Tyzes of the Midrealm. I alluded to an exchange of gifts. I wrote a special piece as my farewell gift to Lucien, and I have been graciously permitted to share it.
First, a bit of backstory. Early in our work together, Lucien encouraged me to compete in last year’s King’s and Queen’s Bardic Championships, and suggested John Dowland’s “Can She Excuse My Wrongs” as a period piece for me to perform. While I was learning the piece, my wife encountered Lucien at the Market Day at Birka event, and told me he had performed the song there, in a very comic mode and to great effect. I wrote to Lucien, whining (mostly jokingly) that perhaps he was “poisoning the well” so that now I was being forced to effectively compete against the memory of my teacher’s performance.
“My dear student,” Lucien replied, “I am not poisoning the well. I am the well.”
Concluding my one-year contract with Lucien was a bittersweet affair for both of us. Among the many aspects of working with him, I cherish his wit, as displayed above, as well as his warmth, his quiet, and his insistence on privacy between us for our work together. I finally composed the piece I had long intended only the night before the event, but the result was most successful. (Announcing the title alone made him double over in laughter, as I’d expected.) Here are the words, along with a hastily-sung rendition (accompanied by MIDI lute so you can tell just how badly my pitch wavers).
The Well by Drake Oranwood
Presented at East Kingdom Twelfth Night, 17 January A.S. XLIX
to Maistre Lucien de Pontivy
(Tune of “Can She Excuse My Wrongs” by John Dowland)
Four seasons past it was fate led me to
This secluded glade, and here found a well.
This was the place to be, somehow I knew;
Here I took my leave to rest for a spell.
Deep crystal waters did refresh my throat,
In its placid face, I saw myself clear.
Many a studious hour did I devote,
Under its protection and free from fear.
So in this safety did I thrive
As every day my heart grew stronger
Till the day I knew must arrive
For me to be alone no longer.
Sad is the hour, from this well must I go
Time now to rejoin the cities of men.
I am at peace, for in truth I do know
When I have the need, I’ll come here again.
Deep and mysterious, I leave behind
Questions echoed back which showed me the way.
And through my journeys will I hold in mind
All I have accrued as day flowed to day.
Out into paths and roads unknown
Branching from this encounter fateful,
Stronger in all the ways I’ve grown
And evermore will I be grateful.