Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Ruby Wine

St Cecilia, by Peter Paul Rubens (1640) - this image courtesy of Olga's Gallery, www.abcgallery.com.
St Cecilia, by Peter Paul Rubens (1640). The original of this digital image can be found here at the Mataev family's mighty Olga's Gallery, the online art museum. Well worth a browse, or several.


Kateverse lyric, attributed to Sergeant Tray of the Mountain Kingdom - a companion of Clare the Crafty in her great quest, posthumously and inaccurately known as Trajan the Troubadour. Its very sprightly tune has had me breaking out in silly grins all day.

Ruby Wine

A legionnaire alone, and a goose without a bone –
Which is more use to Zoya?
A pick without a mine, and no cup to hold the wine –
What are we like now, Zoya?

A foe no clay can kill, and a friend with mere goodwill –
That is our lot, dear Zoya!
A battle I can't fight, and a kissless cold goodnight,
Are not what I like now, Zoya.

A blade no longer young, and a clacking foreign tongue –
A mighty small host for Zoya!
A quest no mind can frame, and a hope without a name,
Are what we have got, my Zoya.

The Mountains' lovely Life be a saltmarsh-strider's wife?
I’ve heard things stranger, Zoya.
A beaky lowland girl came to clutter up my world –
You got the last laugh, Zoya!

We’ve had our summer's fun, and the part you played is done –
Bravely as rubies, Zoya!
I'll cross this little lake, for to hunt that little drake.
All men are mortal, Zoya.

The lady addressed is Princess Zoya the Bountiful of the Mountain Kingdom, who gets a brief mention in The Deed of Katy Elflocks, and is a significant secondary character in the unwritten events that lead from that tale to Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland. Zoya looks rather like St Cecilia in the Rubens painting: fat, beautiful, opulent, affectionate, and distracted. She is not a candidate for sainthood in religions that bandy about phrases like "the world, the flesh, and the devil". She gets underestimated a lot, though never by Tray, and eventually not by anybody else who has shared a truly serious venture with her, either.

Most of the songs attributed to Tray were fathered on him after the regrettable incident with the dragon, but this one has the ring of true coin.

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