Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chanson de Geste

You have already read about our band´s thrilling experiences in Ponferrada, and our appreciation of its mighty stronghold. There is, however, still more to come. Dr. Gyug, our fearless leader, suggested that it would be only proper to honor this noble fortress with a tournament. And having had a tournament, we decided that it would be only proper to honor it with a chanson de geste. (It´s like ¨If you give a mouse a cookie...¨ for medievalists.) And now it is time for this chanson, three days in the composing, to make the transition from memory to written record.

´Twas early in the month of June
When but half waned was the moon,
When on Ponf´rrada´s grassy height,
There met a troop of noble knights.

These knights so brave, so fair, so bold,
They rivaled worthies sung of old,
Kevinus led the Templar band
Against the Frenchmen for their land.

The leader of the chevaliers
Was Reid ycleped, a prince of peers,
While Pious Kevin with his lance
Did lead the Templars against France.

Ah! had I the true poet´s art,
O hearers, it would glad your hearts
To hear the histories of each,
But my tongue lacks heroic speech.

Now Ponferrada, castle strong,
Had been a Templar fortress long,
But now the French do claim their right
In Ponferrada´s stony height

Whose noble walls and towers high
Do proudly greet the Spanish sky
As Ponferrada through the years
Keeps its inhabitants from fears.

Bright in the sun the armor shone
and bravely, silken pennants flown
Proclaim of every knight and dame
The noble house and nobler fame.

¨´Twere shame indeed,¨ the leaders said,
¨To see the blood of heroes shed
In putting valor to the test;
We´ll break our lances but in jest.¨

For such a conflict ´twixt such foes
Three chroniclers the heroes chose:
Kevin, Colleen and Katie hight
The scribes for this most valiant fight.

Eager the knights to start the fray;
The marshal cries, ¨Laissez aller!¨
And ¨Deus vult!¨ the Templars cry.
The French do bravely shout ¨Mountjoy!¨

Of mickle valor Maryanne:
Couched is her lance; she takes her stand.
But Lucy´s spear her shoulder found--
The damsel´s body met the ground.

Elizabeth, with leveled spear,
Of Sarah´s flail showed no fear.
Undaunted heart, unwearied arm
From Sarah´s flail take no harm,

For Sarah, on her taking ruth,
Did hold her blow--so ´twas, in truth--
Noble the maids, noble the deed,
On Ponferrada´s grassy mead.

Fair Katie rode into the fray
Upon a mettled steed of gray.
At Kevin and at Liz she thrust;
Her stirrup breaks--she greets the dust.

On Kevin´s shield Mike´s shattered lance
Did strike a mighty blow for France.
Then wheeling round to join his king,
Mike´s sword against Diana´s rings.

...Believe it or not, dear readers, there is a LOT more of this. But: another day, another day´s walking, and another afternoon´s tour, which is calling me now. But like the good medievalists we are, we are keeping this poem alive in our vibrant oral culture! Watch this space for the rest of the battle and the poem´s moving conclusion!



  1. Whilst in the west, the parents all
    Pondered what fate would them befall,
    And prayed no verse of this fair tale
    Would vanish, as the Holy Grail.

  2. Its pretty good, but its hard to beat "Gil-galad was an elven-king/of him the harpers sadly sing..." etc. :)