To Bard, or not to Bard?

Once I’d bitten the roleplay bullet, I started out as a Woodelf raised by humans, but now seeking to re-connect with her natural kin in the River Kingdom. The place I felt most comfortable was with the Bards. Now, while I had embraced fan-fiction pretty quickly, the poetry/singing side of things was not quite so attractive to me. The reason for this was irrational, but deep-rooted. I had sworn off poetry big-time as a teen, when we were assigned Idylls of the King as our set book for our General Certificate of Education syllabus (Senior High level). Our teacher really sucked lemons at teaching poetry, and even though I loved Arthurian legend, I truly loathed the poor Lady of Shallot, and vowed to eschew iambic pentameter and all formal poetry forms forever and a day by the time I’d taken and passed my exams.
Becoming an elf is when I learned the meaning of ‘never say never’. Tolkien is arguably the greatest of the English poets of the twentieth century, and you can’t fall in love with Middle Earth like I had done as a ten-year-old, without also liking some of the songs that he wrote for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings… And all bards must sing…
By the time I was acclaimed High Bard in the River Kingdom (courtesy of our ‘lords’ the Kingdom moderators), I’d quite happily started to rhyme, or rather rap in free verse for the most part. However, taking my new role to heart, I finally backed down and decided I’d better do some ‘proper’ poetry as well. Only it was usually on my own terms, and always in character for Jano’s backstory.
Being immortal is not all roses and smiles. Imagine if, like Jano, you spent a lot of time around mortals and felt they were your family (let’s leave romantic lurve out this for the time being), then watching them all get old, infirm and then die in what seems like five minutes to the long-lived Elves. All that while always looking youthful and beautiful yourself. Frankly it’s depressing. Heart-wrenching in fact, especially when old family friends think that you’re your own daughter, or granddaughter, because so many years have flown by, but you haven’t changed in any way. Which is why Jano was in a state of extreme loneliness and despair by the time she got to the River Kingdom, after trying to tough it out living alone in her homelands, far from any elven community. She was an elf by nature, but mortal by nurture, and as such this gave her dark insights into the true differences between the Children of Eru. The immortal elves and mortal men.
Elf-mortal pairings, though celebrated in the Middle Earth legendarium (both Aragorn and Arwen were descended from a couple of elven princesses who had mated with mortal heroes by special dispensation from the Valar), were in fact extremely rare, because of the emotional trauma for the surviving immortal when they inevitably lost their lifemate. Although Jano had not had that particular pain (losing her foster parents, siblings and their offspring had been hard enough to bear), when she related the old stories to people visiting with the Bards Guild, she approached it from a more pragmatic perspective than most elves, simply because she had far more empathy with mortals than her biological kin.
Here’s her take on love between the two kindreds, done in simple couplets. Mandos’ Halls mentioned at the end is the equivalent of paradise, where elven spirits went if they were slain, or died of grief, to either stay in disincarnate peace, or to reincarnate in the West, where all the elves eventually came ‘home’. Mortals could not reincarnate, so although they went to a different part of the Halls of Mandos, they all eventually left the world altogether, to join their Maker in the heavens.

Kindred Love
(The Elves (the Firstborn) sing the first three verses)
You will go and I must stay
so whilst we share our lifelong way
we will not think on what will be
but take our time so lovingly.
For I am old and you are young,
so we take the path with starlight strung.
We fill our days with love and light
and take the warmth into the night.
I must stay and you will go
so since we know our love can grow
we will not think on what will be
but take our time so lovingly.
(Men (the Secondborn) sing the last three verses)
For I am young and you are old
and here we reach the time foretold.
Your eyes still shine like mine in youth
but my life’s strength soon fails in truth.
And I will go and you must stay
so whilst we share our lifelong way
we will not think on what will be
but take our time so lovingly.
So you must stay and I will go
and where I’ll end we do not know.
Time’s passing way - it is death’s call

for I cannot stay in Mandos’ Halls.

And here's a LINK to someone actually singing this! (Tinw is an old forum friend and a talented musician, although she's doing this A Capella)

No comments:

Post a Comment