Besseta Wallace’s Art & Sciences Championship: 2015

In 2014 (A.S. XLIX) Besseta Wallace won the Barony’s Arts & Sciences championship with her entry of foods from a lowland Scottish kitchen.  Besseta is one of those wonderful people who has thoroughly researched her persona and has the skills to bring it to life through her garb, her foods, and her accoutrements.  In honor of her, I wanted to create a Charter thoroughly consistent with her time and place.   Unlike French (see Elanor’s Charter), I read enough Middle Scots to muddle through.  I turned to Robert Henryson’s poem The Annunciation for stylistic inspiration.  Wittig wrote that Henryson’s power was in his use of the first-person voice speaking of daily, common life in the vernacular at a time when European literature had just barely begun being written in languages other than Latin.   The Annunication is written in stanzas of three quatrains, using rhyme scheme abab bccb bccb.  My composition failed to follow this rigid structure, as I was unable to work what I wanted said into it.  However, I am not unhappy with the language or the imagery.

O lady lele and lusumest,
Thy face moist fair and schene is.
Thow makar of micht mast,
Quhose art a blosum of luf is.

This writ fra my splene is:
Tha all thy charite and all thy werkis
Unbrynt full blithlie brinnis.

Gudely may, thou michtis are
In name and in dede.
O lady loyal and most lovable,
Thy face most fair and bright is.
Thou maker of great skill,
Whose art a blossom of love is.

These words come from my spleen:
That all thy charity and all thy craft
Burn brightly unburnt.

Worthy maid, thou champion are
In name and in deed.

Like Elanor’s Charter, I feel I got some things right: the right place and time; the right flavor; and the piece said some of what I wished to say.  Additionally, I got the language right.  But the structure of my piece fell short, as I had to abandon Henryson’s quatrains and rhyme scheme in order to complete the piece in time to present it to Besseta.  Worse, I did not include two fairly basic elements of an SCA Charter: the recipients name and the name of the championship she won (both of these got incorporated into the illumination of the Charter, just not into the body of the piece).  But all-in-all this one was a great learning experience.  

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