Baroness Maria

This filk was commissioned for my friend Baroness Maria Erika von Ossenheim, on the occasion of her elevation to the Order of the Pelican. It was performed as we processed her in at Bergental/BBM Yule in December of 2021.

Baroness Maria

by Eric Schrager (aka Drake Oranwood)
(To the tune of “Maria” from
The Sound of Music by Rodgers & Hammerstein)

She ropes you into Coronation
Just three weeks before,
It’s midnight in a snowstorm
When she sends you to the store,
She never saw her true love
Working all through Pennsic War,
And now she’s at the bardic, singing merrily.

But when a reign is short on staff,
She always heeds the call.
For half a year she’ll travel
Keeping order in the hall.
And when a scroll goes missing,
Guess who’s there to take the fall?
Maria’s quite an asset to the barony.

She’s springing into action, so inspired…
Just watching…makes me…tired.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you part a Valkyrie from her spear?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
Eine überarbeitete, aufopfernde Irre!
(An overworked, self-sacrificing lunatic)

Many a thing she’ll rush to volunteer for.
Many a time, she’ll pull us in her wake…
But how do you make her stop
Her service before she drops?
How do you eat dessert, but keep the cake?

Oh, how do we help our Baroness Maria?
How do you put the sword back in the lake?

Hear her praise on every tongue–
“Master Chirurgeon so young!”
If you’re in her care, you know that you’ll be fine.
Once a Tyger’s Cub so pleasant,
Now a Silver Brooch and Crescent,
She’s a Troubadour, a Diamond, and a Pine!

Children’s gifts she doth assist,
Hear her voice at court and list,
As a Clothier, she helped our Royals dress.
And our Consorts and our Queens
Offered Cyphers and Esteem!
She is both a Court and Landed Baroness!

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
Hammer or anvil, how to choose between?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
Eine glänzende, gefährliche Heldin die dient!
(A brilliant, dangerous servant-heroine)

Many a thing she’ll rush to volunteer for.
Many a time you’ll hear her guarantee.
But how do you make her stop
Her service before she drops?
Maybe just slow her down to some degree?

Oh, how do we help our Baroness Maria?
Let’s give her to the Pelicans and see!

Notes

Acknowledgements:

  • For the personal stories that were incorporated into the verses, I am grateful to Maria’s husband, Baron Faolán an Sccreccain, and her longtime friend, Baron Rhys Aiden Bifjord.
  • Let me also acknowledge Maria herself, who heeded the advice of a mentor and had updated her EK wiki page a couple of months back. I cannot stress enough how much of a boon it is to maintain a page like this when people are looking for ways to honor you. Yes, our kingdom, like most or all of them, maintains an Order of Precedence page that lists a gentle’s awards. Assuming it is up to date, it is most helpful. However, even if it is complete and up-to-date (and it may list local or baronial awards, but it may not), what it cannot provide is context for who you are and what distinguishes you: your persona, your interests, your affiliations, your unique achievements (like being the youngest person to ever be made a Master Chirurgeon, for example). These things matter, and it is not boasting to let people know what word fame you deserve if they are actively seeking that information out without having to track down people who can tell them. (That’s what you do when you want funny stories, as in the previous acknowledgment.)
  • I am deeply indebted to Lady Naomi of Mons Tonitrus (Kingdom of Atenveldt), who reached out when I asked for help with the proper translation and pronunciation of the lines in German. Google Translate will only take you so far, and I knew that issues of gender and nuances of meaning were probably going to be mistaken. Indeed, my original translation of “servant-heroine” was being rendered as “servant to heroes” rather than “heroine who serves”, so it was vital to get a German speaker’s assistance.

Additional notes:

My teacher Peregrine was highly intrigued when he heard this filk had been commissioned, and was particularly curious how I would address the challenge of the line about “a word that means Maria: / A flibbertegibbet! A will-o’-the-wisp! / A clown!”. That set me thinking. What would I do with that line? After a bit of reflection, I remembered that Maria’s persona was German, and the moment in The Court Jester when Danny Kaye, impersonating the jester Giacomo, launches into a butchery of three languages to demonstrate he is “master of many tongues”, ending with some vehemently aggressive pseudo-German:

(Side note: I saw this movie at an impressionable age, and the notion of Drake as a troubadour, a man of wit and song who seeks to make the court laugh rather than invoke violence, always traces back to Kaye’s timorous but quick-thinking Hawkins–as well as Thomas of Ercildoun, aka the Rhymer.)

Once I committed to German, the question became how to make my words understood, because me shouting in German is funny, yes, but the real point of the song was to celebrate (and roast) Maria and her tireless service. The notion of translation cards, when it came to me, just made me grin. So many thanks to Mistress Eikaterine tin Elliniki, who had given me such good advice a few years back about leaning into comedy, for serving as spokesmodel for the posters.

I made the choice in this filk to vary up my refrains, even though they repeat in the original. It’s something to consider when you’re going for humor in a parody or filk. Just because the original repeats itself doesn’t mean your version has to. The variation keeps the audience engaged.

Finally, I am not wearing my glasses when I perform this since the mask would have fogged them up with my breath. Note that Anne, who announced Maria in, and I have both taken time to practice projecting through a mask. It is vital for as long COVID health concerns remain with us that performers and speakers remember to do this. It affects your breathing and your intelligibility (and, of course, cuts down on your facial expressions, so you have to compensate with your eyes and body language).

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