Tuesday, 16 March 2010

De Ville's Toast to His Friends

François Villon from the Grand Testament de Maistre François Villon, Paris, 1489 - via Wikipedia Commons - public domain From one end of the moral and artistic spectrum to the other...

Okay, along one of the moral axes, at least. This hit me yesterday, and robs blind draws heavily for inspiration upon François Villon's Ballad of the Lords of Old Time. Of course, today I started wondering about where somebody like Villon would fit into my world. I still know very little about the in-world author, the rascally Rogatyn de Ville - I'm placing him about a generation before Katy Elflocks - but he's given me my first real glimpse of his horrid birth-country, the monastic theocracy of Rubea.

Edges, frames, borders... and a man who learned in cruel schools how to seize the day. I'd drink a toast with him, though the bastard would probably take the chance to pick my pocket!

De Ville's Toast to His Friends

Hey ho, the mighty! Your horse is high, the while -
But where is our man Morgan, and where is Charles de Lyle?
Where is great Cassander, the Gods before him ran?
They have all marched down to Pluto’s town, along with the Great God Pan!

Hey ho, the lovely! Your face is oh, so fair -
But where is Sharazade now - who strokes True Tildy’s hair?
Where is white Cleïs now, the world was not her peer?
They have gone to bed with the worms to wed, along with my dearest dear!

Hey ho, the godly! You vaunt Eternity -
But what’s to do for your whey-faced crew, and what is that to me?
All his deeds would Hector give for Patrick’s mortal kiss,
Nor for all the thrones in the world of bones would I give you a pot to piss!

Hey ho, the lively! We’ll drink another round -
For we’ll be stone-cold sober, when we’re beneath the ground!
Every John kiss Joan now, and light a lasting flame!
We will all go up with a clinking cup, and a tuppence to our name!

Where is great Cassander, and where is Charles de Lyle?
What does Sharazade sing, and who makes Tildy smile?
What would Hector hold to, and why should Patrick pine?
We shall all find out without half a doubt. - Along with the blood-red wine!

Some iconographical thoughts sparked by this song, and perhaps also the last post:

I had quite a bit of trouble coming up with the right epithet for Cleïs (who is supposed to be Helen squared, with attitude). When, rummaging through our own poetic tradition, I came up with 'white', I knew at once that this has long been attached to her. Now, this doesn't on the face of it make sense. She and her Cassander were both, evidently, Southrons. True, he is usually drawn in the North as a pale-skinned man - specifically, as an idealized member of the local ruling house, with his trademark boxer's nose and sinister smile to make it him. But Cleïs is described rather extensively in contemporary lyric, and she's always depicted with olive skin and sloe eyes and raven curls. 'White' is an awfully strange word to glom onto her.

The etymologically inclined might find it entertaining to work out how it got there. De Ville must have guessed, I think. It's not the kind of dissonance he'd have let in out of laziness, though in everything but making and revelry he was surely lazy enough.

The things I learn by accident...!

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