Tim Boucher

Questionable content, possibly linked

Tag: poetry

Greek Rhapsodes

“Often, rhapsodes are depicted in Greek art, wearing their signature cloak and carrying a staff. This equipment is also characteristic of travellers in general, implying that rhapsodes were itinerant performers, moving from town to town. […]

The word rhapsōidos was in use as early as Pindar (522–443 BC), who implies two different explanations of it, “singer of stitched verse”, and “singer with the staff”. Of these the first is etymologically correct; the second was suggested by the fact, for which there is early evidence, that the singer was accustomed to hold a staff (ῥάβδος rhabdos) in his hand, perhaps, like the sceptre in the Homeric assembly, as a symbol of the right to a hearing or to “emphasize the rhythm or to give grandeur to their gestures”.

There was, however, certainly a profession of aoidos. Eumaeus, a character in the Odyssey, says that singers (aoidoi), healers, seers and craftsmen are likely to be welcomed as guests, while beggars are not;

Irish File & Imbas forosnai

“The file is to be regarded as in the earliest times as combining in his person the functions of magician, lawgiver, judge, counsellor to the chief, and poet.” [Hull]

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“However, the culture placed great importance on the fili’s ability to pass stories and information down through the generations without making changes in those elements that were considered factual rather than embellishment.”

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“Nonetheless in Gaelic society the chief filí of the province, or Ollamh, was seen as equal status to the Ard-rí, or High King. This high social status existed right into Elizabethan times, when English nobility were horrified to see the Gaelic chieftains not just eating at the same table as their poets, but often from the same dish. Eventually classical literature and the Romantic literature that grew from the troubadour tradition of the langue d’oc superseded the material that would have been familiar to the ancient fili.”

“Imbas forosnai involved the practitioner engaging in sensory deprivation techniques in order to enter a trance and receive answers or prophecy.

In the Celtic traditions, poetry has always served as a primary conveyance of spiritual truth. Celtic texts differentiate between normal poetry, which is only a matter of learned skill, and “inspired” poetry, which is seen as a gift from the gods.”

“…a bearer of “old lore” (seanchas). In the ancient Celtic culture, the history and laws of the people were not written down but memorized in long lyric poems which were recited by bards (filí), in a tradition echoed by the seanchaithe.”

Scops & skalds

“Very little is known about the mythical scop, and its historical existence is questioned by some scholars. ”

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Old English scop and its cognate Old High German scoph, scopf, scof (glossing poeta and vates; also poema) may be related to the verb scapan “to create, form” (Old Norse skapa, Old High German scaffan; Modern English shape), from Proto-Germanic *skapiz “form, order” (from a PIE *(s)kep- “cut, hack”) …

While skop became English scoff, the Old Norse skald lives on in a Modern English word of a similarly deprecating meaning, scold.[citation needed] There is a homonymous Old High German scopf meaning “abuse, derision” (Old Norse skop, meaning “mocking, scolding”, whence scoff)…

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It is characteristic of the Germanic tradition of poetry that the sacred or heroic cannot be separated from the ecstatic or drunken state…

“There is no evidence that the skalds employed musical instruments, but some speculate that they may have accompanied their verses with the harp or lyre.”

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Every king and chieftain needed a skald to record their feats and ensure their legacy lived on, as well as becoming the main historians of their society. The written artefacts of that time come from skalds, as they were the first from the time and place to record on paper. Some skalds became clerical workers, recording laws and happenings of the government, some even being elected to the Thing and Althing, while others worked with churches to record the lives and miracles of Saints, along with passing on the ideals of Christianity.

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There is debate over the performance of skaldic poetry, but there is a general scholarly consensus that it was spoken rather than sung.

See also: kenning (technique)

 

Jesters & French Chansons des Gestes

“This modern term derives from the older form gestour, or jestour, originally from Anglo-Norman (French) meaning story-teller or minstrel.”

“Another theory (largely discredited today[16]), developed by Joseph Bédier, posited that the early chansons were recent creations, not earlier than the year 1000, developed by singers who, emulating the songs of “saints lives” sung in front of churches (and collaborating with the church clerics[16]), created epic stories based on the heroes whose shrines and tombs dotted the great pilgrimage routes, as a way of drawing pilgrims to these churches.”

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“Similarly, scholars differ greatly on the social condition and literacy of the poets themselves; were they cultured clerics or illiterate jongleurs working within an oral tradition?”

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“Several manuscript texts include lines in which the jongleur demands attention, threatens to stop singing, promises to continue the next day, and asks for money or gifts.”

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“It has been calculated that a reciter could sing about a thousand verses an hour[31] and probably limited himself to 1000–1300 verses by performance,[27] making it likely that the performance of works extended over several days.[31]”

Robert Graves: Analeptic Thought

“Graves derived some of his ideas from poetic inspiration and a process of “analeptic thought”, which is a term he used for throwing one’s mind back in time and receiving impressions. ”

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“While Graves made the association between Goddesses and the moon appear “natural”, it was not so to the Celts or some other ancient peoples.[14] In response to critics, Graves accused literary scholars of being psychologically incapable of interpreting myth…”

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