Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Role of the Ursine Bard

Colyne Stewart, Sep AS XXXVII (2002)

My time as Bard of Septentria, in conjunction with my Lady Thorfinna, is swiftly coming to a close. In January or February it will be time for another to fill this role, and this short work is meant as words of encouragement for whomever that may be, and whomever comes after.

Thorfinna and I had been in the SCA just less than a year when Cynred and Gaerwen, Thegn and Baroness of Septentria, called us into court and asked us to be Their bards. This still astounds me. It is true that we were both members of the Bardic College of Ealdormere, and we had both written a few pieces, but we were, I thought, bardicly unknown. Neither of us had performed, and truth be told I had no intention of doing so. I don’t know who put forward our names to be the Baronial Bards but they have done us a great service.

We could not, of course, turn down such honour, and later that month Master Hector of the Black Height, our predecessor, took us aside, gave us the ring of office, and told us of our duties. Among the things he told us was that it was our responsibility to open and close singing/story-telling at feasts and bardic circles within the borders of our Barony (unless the event was at the Kingdom level). He told us it was up to us to keep legends alive, to keep Septentria vibrant and strong through story, song and poem. His passion for the position was easily discerned, and when he was done we felt even more daunted by the task set before us. Now, this was not bad intimidation, it was good intimidation. The office obviously meant a lot to Master Hector, and hence, it meant a lot to us. We both take our responsibilities seriously.

However, as fairly introverted individuals for a time we dreaded attending Septentrian events. Neither of us wanted to get up and perform. But we did. We were honour bound to Cynred and Gaerwen, to the people of Septentria to fulfill our duties. So we sang at Snowed Inn (me very poorly). At Bad in Plaid I told my first story (‘The Tale of the Badger Broccan,’ which broke the Thegn and earned me my second ever token). As each event came we became more comfortable and now I am rarely nervous when I perform. (Outwardly anyway. My hands still shake, but I don’t dread the act anymore. In fact, I like it now.) Being made Ursine Bard forced me to participate, instead of just observing. It has been one of the greatest gifts I have been given.

Besides the performing at feasts and fires I wrote poems and tales of Septentrians (and others) who were doing great things. I wrote for Kings, Queens, Duchesses, Lords, Ladies and those who had no titles. (These I usually sent directly to those I wrote of.) I wrote of our great Households and our strong army. I wrote of events I had been to, and gave these to newsletters and posted them to elists, as part of a bard’s duties are to tell the people of world events.

All these things are important, my successor (whomever you may be). Do them all. You are part of a long, proud lineage of filigh, scops, skalds and bards. You are the Voice of the Bear, the voice of all the people of Septentria. When you open your mouth, the Bear roars.

Write. Tell. Story, poem, song, article; it matters not the form. What matters is the telling.

I do not know who you may be, but if you have been chosen you are worthy. You are Septentrian. Feel the pride of Septentria. Feel pride in yourself.

You are the Voice of the Bear.

You are Septentrian.

Permission is given to print this article in any SCA publication as long as the author is contacted by email in advance, proper credit is given and the author receives a copy of the newsletter. Please credit the author as Colyne Stewart (mka Todd Fischer), who can be reached at

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