Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"The Lay" Unlocked: full text

Here is the Trilogy as Mikaela and I presented it on Nov. 19th. This is pasted pretty much straight from the program.

A Lay of Life and Loss

Song 1: The Wood & the Battlefield

Setting: It is the middle of WWI. A nurse is wearily tending to the dying soldiers being brought into the edges of the forest from the trenches. Her white apron is stained with their blood. As a soldier dies in her arms and another nurse urges her to rest, she walks further into the forest, singing.

The drums of battle echo in darkness
And sleep eludes my eyes;
The sound of horses pounding past my window
Keeps me awake at night.
Every day they bring them to me
So many men lost to war.
Dying for the sake of dying,
Not knowing what they're dying for.

Here beneath the Mistress of the Mountain
The witness of my birth;
Now the trees look on as death surrounds them,
Mourning the bleeding earth.
On the wind a voice is calling.
Sweetness lingers on the air
As I leave this present darkness
and step into a place more fair.

Whose is the voice that calls me?
Where is the heart I seek?
Where is the valiant man
To make life whole again?

Through the forest then my footsteps wander.
The din of battle fades away
in the peaceful web of snow and branches
where once I used to play.
In this time where men are different
Life is death well met
Cup bestowed by queen at table
And sacrifice without regret...

She keeps walking up the mountain, her hands brushing each beloved tree as she passes through the wood. In the distance she glimpses an old ruin, where she loved to read of the heroes of the north in tongues long dead. The old words come back to her:

Fraujinondei fairguni sa bairka
Tulgus triggwa standiþ bandwa bairhta

which, translated, may be rendered:

Mistress of the mountain, the birch stands strong and true, a bright token.

Song 2: The Sea

Setting: The same, but no longer in ruins. Instead, the building stands at the height of its glory, and before it warriors are preparing to ride to battle. One Saxon warrior, arming himself, sings.

We were strong!
Every harp told the tales of our deeds.
We were skilled!
Giving shape to both metal and word.
We were proud!
And our hall was the envy of men
Our great hall
Where our lord gave out gifts to his men.
And we loved him and swore him our lives to the end.

They were strong
Landing ship after ship on our shores.
We fought long,
But our lands they ran red with our blood
We were brave
And we rode out and chanted of death
One last ride.
Then they cut down our king to the ground
And we lost all the things we held dear when he died.

Where is the strength that fails me?
Where is the life I've lost?
How can I go home
When all I loved is gone?

Cwæðon þæt he wære wyrolde-cyninga,
Mannum se milduste ond se mon-ðwærust,
Léodum se líðoste ond se lóf-geornost.
Nú dréamum bedæled, ic bíde mín dóm.

The setting has changed. The warrior no longer steers a horse, but a ship, small among the great waves of a winter storm. But he does not move. As if oblivious to the violent weather about him, he stares into the ocean mist and sings.

They have gone
And in exile I wander alone
On the sea
Where I think on the fall of my kin
I survive
But bereft of the death that I owed
To my king
And the thought is a shroud on my soul
And I cry with the gulls of the sea dark and cold.

Song 3: The Ruin

Setting: The mead hall, in ruins once again.

[Man speaks aloud:]

The clear-sighted man will know
How terrible it will be
When great walls fall to dust,
And all the wealth of this world
Stands waste...

As she makes her way to the former doorway of this once great edifice, she looks about her and sings.

Where is the horse
And his young rider?
Where is his master,
Ruler and Guide?
Oh! Alas!
For the brave man -
His heart torn asunder;
Oh! Alas!
For the Warrior
In his bright mail!

How could the mighty
Noble, lie fallen?
Wine-hall in runes
Mead frozen and gone?
Oh! Alas!
For the Noble
Truest of Lovers;
Oh! Alas!
Memory buried
His forgotten name!

See now past her face, inside the ruin. He is standing near the king's chair, pale image of the whole man. As he sings, he grows more solid, until he is fully flesh and blood.

When sleep and sorrow bind
The lonely man's mind -
In a dream he holds
His Lord of old;
But only wakes to find -
Icy wind that stings
Ice and Waves and Wings;
And his tears flow free
Into the sea
Of forgetfulness and pain!

They both sing, walking along either side of the wall, almost at the door.

[She:] Whose the voice that calls me?
[He:] Hwa, þe clypeþ me?
[She:] Where is the heart I yearn for?
[He:] Hwær seo geornde heorte?

They have both attained the doorway. As they look upon each other, they sing together.

Is this the Truth –
The love I have looked for?
Is this the peace
I've traveled to find?
Oh! At last! Sweet surrender!
One heart broken no more.
Oh! At last! Here in your eyes
I am finally home!
I am finally home!
Here at last I'm home!

At the same time:

Hér se magu,
hér þín dryhten,
beorn ond gíefa.
Hér líf ond strengþu.
Hér ic finde mín dóm.
I am finally home.
Here at last I'm home.

of which the ancient speech may be rendered:

Here is the rider,
here is your lord,
master and giver.
Here is life and strength.
Now I have found my destiny.

© 2005 Silver Scroll Productions

[Publishing it thus without hearing the music really doesn't do it justice, but we haven't recorded it, so you'll have to hear it live, or take my word that the music does do justice to the words, and to the sources that inspired them.]

Update: Notes


Mikaela D'eigh said...

Bravissima! ;)

reader_iam said...

What a cool project! I wish you could videotape a presentation and then post a link. Or a recording.

Great stuff.

King Alfred said...

thanks, reader_iam. We appreciate the feedback.