This past year, I went to Pennsic for the first time in about fifteen years. Despite a few minor setbacks, like the airline losing all my armour for about three weeks, I had a good time. I managed to borrow enough kit to do some fencing and had an absolute blast in the rapier woods battle. I had forgotten how much fun it was, and there were some epic moments.
On the subject of epic moments, my daughter had brought a copy of Zac Weinersmith’s fabulous Bea Wolf for me to read. Which I did. Which, in turn, meant that as I was telling people about some of those moments, I thought, ‘Why not write a poem?’
So I did. I played fast and loose with the form and structure, working with the rhythyms I wanted, as well as alliteration and kennings. My goal was to end up with something which was at least vaguely reminiscent of Old English poetry.
One bit of explanation might be handy for those unfamiliar with Pennsic - the sides are distinguished by coloured tape, red and blue, on their helmets.
The Song of Excellent Eva
Hwaet! hear the story of excellent Eva
Swift with her sword and bravest in battle
In woods war at Pennsic foul foes did she slaughter
Won wordfame and glory, hear now her story.
In forest near flag-tree was raven feast gathered
Blue helmeted warriors fought red-hatted foemen.
Twice now had the tide of the sword waves been counted
Twice now had the blue been favoured by fortune.
Dusk now was dropping to finish the fighting
One point was to play for, the last undecided.
Sly Alexandre, skogsninja in purple
Had slipped through the shieldwall, to sow there confusion.
A sentry had seen him, stood oaklike between him
And heads of the flag-guard arrangÃ©like cabbage.
This war-hound defended the hens of the flag guard
From bloody intention of fox minded warrior
Appeared there beside him, bright sword steel in hand
Eva Woderose the warrior, her rapiers silver,
Her eyes brightly shining with blood lust and beauty.
The joy of the battle burned bright in her breast
As laughing she sang her sweet song of slaughter.
Alexandre spoke softly of war plans most cunning
Let this helm-tree be hewn while we remain standing
And the ship with the flag mast lies open before us.
Before his words spoken had fallen on wood floor
Eva the wildfire burst into flame.
The sentry she scorched into ashes and memory
The road to the backs of the blue-foes was open.
Full score of strong helm trees with red on their helmets
Were facing their foes across fields thick with sword grain.
Behind them came reapers, the harvest was bloody.
Man-sheaves were piled for ravens to ravage.
Alexandre accounted for five, then fell in the forest.
Eva slew seven then seized she the flag-mast!
The red-painted reavers were helpless before her.
Her blue-painted war-band came forward in battle,
Sang praise of her prowess as their foe-folk were scattered.
War chief of the East, through praise of his Prince-son,
Heaped honour on Eva and purple clad Alex
Awarded them Durgas for visible valour.
Hail Eva, swift warrior with rapiers of silver!
Bringer of victory, valkyrie of vengeance.