Three acts of courtesy a good man should strive for:
Holding a hearth seat for the cold and weary stranger,
Word fame given wildly for another man’s deeds,
Bountiful bread broken with all who come to his table.
This is the courtesy of Valerian of Somerset.
He offers the gift of abundance. Cordials of cordiality,
provisions of partnership; the communion of community.
He serves the whole Society with his hospitality.
Three animal senses are soothed in Valerian’s mead hall:
Our tongues know the sweetness of milk and honey,
Our noses breathe the perfume of fire and wood smoke
Our ears hear the sizzle-song of meat dripping onto coals.
While I with my voice, make a feast with my words,
Valerian, with his flame, has made a feast for us all.
Your majesties, one more triad to end this poem:
He is my peer, he is my peer, he is my peer.
This poem was spoken by me for Baron Valerian of Somerset as a part of his peerage ceremony during his elevation to the Pelican. When I was still fighting on the heavy list field, Valerian and I sometimes fought in the same unit.
I was thinking about *how* I know Valerian and what I associate with him, and I saw him feeding people in my head. It occurred to me that one of the vital medieval virtues, one that has been de-emphasized in modern society, is hospitality. Hospitality was a critical form of courtesy in Europe in the SCA period. I started researching poetry around feasting, and immediately stumbled on the Hunter article below.
I have read Welsh and Irish triad poems before, but I only knew of their use as a mnemonic device to remember lineages or history, not as “praise poem”, so I was fascinated by the article. Valerian does not have a specific historical persona, per se. His partner has referred to his persona as Circa 1987 SCA Period, or “vaguely early European”, so nothing was keeping me from writing a triad poem, or a set of nesting triad poems as it turns out.
Like my friend Valerian, this poem is not aggressively period or deeply researched, nor does it adhere strictly to a period form. It also does not rhyme. It is *inspired by* Welsh triad verses, and was intended to evoke the period feeling that many of us spend our game time longing for.
Hunter, Jerry. “A Feast of Words: Conspicuous Consumption and Praise Poetry in Medieval Wales.” Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium, vol. 14, 1994, pp. 39–48. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20557273 Accessed 19 Mar. 2023.
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