Sunday, 25 September 2011

Dame Catherine Tynde

Fantastic Vision, or Asmodea (1819-1823), by Francisco de Goya - via Wikimedia Commons - public domain
Fantastic Vision, or Asmodea (1819-1823), by Francisco de Goya . Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


A folk-rhyme from the Kateverse. Dame Catriona Tynde (Catherine is a later assimilationist error) was probably a real petty noble who lived in the elvish marches some generations after my tales of the Three Katherines. Being famously liberal to her people in a time of war and doubt, she has soaked up legends of the far more radical and magical Katy Elflocks like a biscuit in a barrel of gravy. Collectors like Charles Newbury customarily omit the third verse as scurrilous and indecent. It certainly reflects Katy's sentiments in the days of her great anarchy: Dame Catriona's own positions, wherever they differed, are about as lost to posterity as the abovementioned soggy biscuit.

Dame Catherine Tynde

"Mine is a lord of a hard flinty will:
Grain of my land must be grist to his mill.
Little but hunger his fees leave behind."
"Share we our bread, then!" says Dame Catherine Tynde.

"Mine is a temper too high and too free:
That would Milady have torn out of me
With the worm's tongue that would speak a man's mind."
"Call us good fellows!" says Catherine Tynde.

"Mine is a body by Nature betrayed,
Turning to man as it ought to a maid.
Where in the world love's content shall I find?"
"Here with fair comrades!" says Catherine Tynde.

"Mine is a spirit that recks not of odds:
Though I'm a lass, I will fight men or Gods -
Strike at the stars, should I find them unkind!"
"Dwell as my daughter!" says Catherine Tynde.

"Mine is the shape of a black woodhouse wight:
Terror I bring to the woodsmen by night.
Who would believe that to good I inclined?"
"Thou dost, and I do!" says Catherine Tynde.

"Mine is the scythe that old customs shall change:
All men I'll level from castle to grange.
See you our world to our vision consigned!"
"See you in Hell, Sam!" says Dame Catherine Tynde.

The last verse refers to the Saturnist revolution across the northern border in Dame Catriona's day - and that really is how she and her followers responded to it. It's hard to explain even the parts I understand of the ideology of the first 'Sammy Saturday', but it bears certain generic resemblances to both Trotskyism and Covenanting Presbyterianism in our world. A dream I had three years ago suggested in the strongest terms that it was, unfortunately, a lot more successful than either.

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