Last weekend, my first scroll text for a kingdom level award went out in the Consules’ court. My friend Agnes Marie de Calais was inducted into the Order of the Silver Wheel for service, and Collette d’Avignon, who was responsible for creating the scroll, asked if I would be willing to compose the text to honor her. I was delighted to be asked, and set to researching and creating something that would, I hoped, fit Agnes like a glove.
Agnes Marie: her ever ready hand
Supports the realm, adorning it with grace,
Her wit and wisdom carving out the space,
So young minds by her tutelage expand.
She offers tales fantastical and grand:
Who dares declare that Earth cavorts through space?
Agnes Marie! Her ever ready hand
Supports the realm, adorning it with grace.
So readily she served her queen’s command
To aid the court or serve from cups and trays.
With this roundel of silver, take your place
Among your order, evermore to stand:
Agnes Marie, whose ever ready hand
Supports the realm, adorning it with grace!
Bestowed upon her by Magnus Tindal and Alberic,
Consules of the East Kingdom
Agnes’s kingdom wiki page helped me narrow down how to approach writing a scroll text for her French persona, placing her currently in 1518. Calais, where she hails from according to her surname, is at the northern-most point on the French coast. So while I knew I was going to write in English, I sought a French poetic form that would have been popular in early sixteenth century northern France. (A reminder of the gift you give to those who wish to know and honor you by maintaining a kingdom wiki page!)
The early 16th century was a transitional period for French poetry, as it shifted between the dominant styles of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. This was the time of the Grands Rhétoriquers, the writers of the Court of Burgundy. They were lovers of form, style, and verbal acrobatics and wordplay. Examining a few of the prominent forms they preferred, I chose to write a roundel of 14 lines. Roundels and related forms are notable for their repeated one or two line refrains (italicized in the text above). I also enjoy the subtlety of extended but varied alternating rhyme schemes, such as the ABba abAB abbaAB scheme used here.
A few notes on the content of the text:
- Stanza 1 refers to Agnes’s work teaching the youth of the kingdom, one of her chief forms of service.
- Stanza 2 references her storytelling bardic, and specifically her wonderful piece on Galileo’s Treatise (video) from last year’s Bardic Championship.
- The final stanza honors her service to Queen Margarita’s court, extending through the pandemic lockdown.
- To emulate the wordplay of the Rhétoriqueurs, I added a pun on “roundel”, which refers to both the Silver Wheel medallion bestowed to members of the Order, and to the poem text itself.
The opportunity to put some thought and creativity into honoring a deserving friend is one of the great joys the SCA affords us. Collette’s scribal work on the scroll is, as you can see, fabulous, and Agnes, I’m happy to say, was delighted with the result.