1500 Stitches: diverse arts of Margaret Wolseley

Poetry and Songs

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I composed the following poem for the Duke Gyrth Oldcastle Memorial Smackdown at the 2012 Kingdom Arts and Sciences Festival. (Really, I composed it at KASF. I showed up with three ideas, a thesaurus, and a rhyme dictionary, and finished the last poem one minute before the smackdown began.) That year, we each adopted a historic persona (mine was Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII) and wrote from her perspective.

We were given the names of two other participant's chosen characters, and were to praise one entrant and "smack" a second. This is my poem praising Dhuoda, the early ninth century French woman who authored Liber Manualis, a handbook written for her son instructing him about how to be moral, Godly, and fulfill his duties. Since the character's lives were so closely parallel - sons taken from them, deep Catholic faith, ambitious and capable in a time when many women were not, working from afar to ensure the success of their children - I knew that I had to write a poem in praise of this women. The form used is a Rondeau, more or less.

In Praise of Her Liber Manualis

To craft a goodly man: a mother knows!
From her a font of tender wisdom flows
To bathe her child in morals sound and pure
His mortal soul's salvation to ensure
And base temptations of the world oppose.

Immeasurable, the gift she thus bestows
To guide her son past all his worldly foes
With words and teachings ever to endure.
A mother's love will craft a goodly man.

Dear Dhuoda, thine pain, like mine, clear shows
As cross the empty space you wisely chose
To pen your exhortations, to secure
Great love of God and father, now assure
Your son will have a mother, where e'r he goes.
A mother's love will craft a goodly man.