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Lorenzo Gorla's Elevation Words for his Pelican


Shall I compare thee to a chatelaine? 

Thou art more stalwart and more clement. 

Rough demos used to teach and entertain

Stirs the soul with sword and flying pennant. 

Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,

Sometimes too wet, too dark, with sun bedimmed,

But every faire thy gen’rous teaching signs

new Eastern fencers who can kill… or limb.

Despite thy fearsome skill with pen and blade,

Thy secret heart protects a gentle spirit 

As all the Roses in this court arrayed

Attest thy courtesy that each may hear it. 

For what is clear for any eye to see

This man’s a more than worthy peer to me.


I could not attend my friend's elevation this past weekend.  Lorenzo was awarded his Pelican for his service in running SCA demos and recruiting new people. He had asked his Pelican, Alys Mackyntoich if I could speak for him for the Rose. As I was reviewing his body of work, and while thinking of the fact he had a 16th Century persona, the line "Shall I compare thee to a chatelaine?" pop into my head and refuse to leave. 

The only way to make a line of poetry leave your brain is to write it down.  But even after that it would not leave.  So I went to look up the original Shakespeare, sonnet #18.  and realized I could likely filk the rest of that sonnet for my own purposes. 

I quailed at stealing from Shakespeare for only a moment: Shakespeare was a thief of other's stories, I decided it was ok to steal from the best. 

So, line by line, hewing as strictly as I could to the original meter & rhyme scheme, using as many of the original words as I could, I rewrote sonnet 18 for Lorenzo. If you are going to rip from Shakespeare, you have to do it justice.  Sonnet 18 is extremely well known, so I know that the first line alone would likely get a reaction, but I wanted to make it clear to everyone listening to the rest of the poem that I knew precisely what I was doing. 

But also, I wanted Lorenzo to know how much I admire him, and how pleased I am for him that he has joined me in the Order of the Pelican. 

Franz Behem woodcut, 16th Century


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