Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Roses of the East

Okay, time to start reflecting on some memories of Pennsic. Let's start with what both objectively and subjectively was the high point: the resolution of my Quest.

For those coming late to the story -- at Coronation, I managed to screw up. Royally. For one brief shining moment, the Coronation ceremony had finished up, pretty much as designed, with no screw-ups that were particularly visible to the audience. It was epic, it was beautiful, it was special. And then I got the Queen's name wrong as we were recessing. So I was put on Quest at First Court, with an assignment to memorize and recite the names of the Queens of the East, in alphabetical order, at Pennsic.

Now truth to tell, *that* wouldn't have been horribly difficult: I'm a Masonic ritualist, used to memorization, and while that's a pretty substantial list, I've done worse. But simply standing in Court and reciting the names like an abashed schoolboy -- well, that just wouldn't be living up to the example set by my Queen. This is The Reign Of Good Schtick, and I had to do my part.

So I spent about two months letting it stew, trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do. Finally, sometime around early June, I came up with a plan that I liked: a contrefait to the tune of Gracca Amorosa. The broad concept is nicely period (I have a book of period broadsides, including a couple specifically to dance tunes that we use), and Gracca is so bloody *syncopated* that it left me with lots of wiggle room in terms of both scansion and rhyme. (Those paying attention will notice that I am wildly inconsistent in the rhyme scheme, but it turns out to work just fine with this rhythm.)

Nonetheless, this left me with a remarkably tense two months writing the thing. The problem was that I kept coming up with lines that I liked for particular Queens, which had to come at particular points in a verse; this resulted in lots of panicked evenings as I racked my brain trying to fit the rest around the structural constraints. In the end, I got the last line written right around land grab. (And rewrote at least one line while we were loading the van.)

The performance wasn't my best: while I'd been memorizing as I composed, I only had about a week to practice the song in its entirety, and it was a bit shaky. Fortunately, one trick of the good comic is pretending that I've stopped for comic effect when the reality is that I'm trying to remember the next line. And it seems to have been well-received -- indeed, better than I'd had any reason to hope, given the number of compliments I got afterwards.

Probably the scariest thing I've done in my entire SCA career, but overall a success, and fun in a terrifying kind of way. As has been requested, I've put the lyrics up on the East Kingdom Wiki. Those are currently unadorned, but I plan to footnote the thing heavily (really, really heavily) sometime soon -- besides the many historical references, there are several lines that are so obscure I wouldn't expect anybody to know what I'm talking about, some of them quite specific to my interactions with the Queens in question...
Tags: pennsic

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