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bardicmumming-10A mumming greeted King Edward and Queen Thyra at their recent visit to Carolingia.  “In honor of their visit, and in keeping with our duties has baron and baroness, we wanted to honor them with something both appropriately Carolingian,” said Baron Fergus MacRae. “ Leaning on the strong traditions of our fine barony, a Mumming was presented during feast.  In keeping with His Majesties fine Scottish roots, it was all about sheep.”

Baron Fergus and Mistress Catrin o’r Rhyd For commissioned Master Christian Lansinger von Jaueregk to create a poem for the performance.  “Mummings were used in period to entertain, deliver advice or present gift to notable people,” explained Mistress Catrin.  “We do them periodically in Carolingia, and they’re always popular.”

SheepMistress Gwendolyn of Middlemarch performed the poem, admonishing the local shepherds and shepherdesses for paying more attention to their sheep than each other.  Master Peregrine the Illuminator and Lady Clara Beaumont were the shepherd and shepherdess.  Additional shepherds and shepherdesses were Lord Ulrich Reinhart, Lady Sorcha Dhocair inghean Ui Ruairc, Lord Symon of Barnesdale and Lady Deirdre of Mitgaard.  Onlookers who were dragged up to dance by the shepherds and shepherdesses were Their Majesties, Master Justin du Couer, Lord Andreiko Eferiev, Lady Rosina von Schaffhausen, Countess Mara and Duke Vissevald.

The poem, photographs and a video follows. The video starts a few seconds into the mumming.

A Mumming for King Edward and Queen Thyra
by Christian Lansinger von Jaueregk (mka Michael McAfee)

bardicmumming-3Sad tidings, oh, sad tidings do I bring!
Good people, oh, good people, weep and wail!
And yet what good are tears ‘gainst serpent’s sting?
For now we strive ‘gainst grief to no avail!
‘Tis no hyperbole, no strain of truth
To state the gods themselves must be dismayed
For through the silly foolishness of youth
The dancing, my dear friends, has been delayed!
The frolicking and merriment tonight
Would have begun on time, and started well,
But, oh, we now must wait upon delight
And fires in our hearts we now must quell.
But whom, I hear you ask, are we to blame
For such a heinous fate now to befall?
I shall not single anyone by name
For truth to tell the blame is shared by all!
The fair young men and women of the field,
Those shepherds and the maids who roam the hills,
Unto their baser natures they did yield
And thus have proved the cause of all our ills!
And here is why our revels cannot start
And why our promises we cannot keep:
Each shepherdess and swain has lost his heart
Unto a fluffy, cute and cuddly sheep!
Instead of taking pleasure in good sport,
These commoners defy Terpsichore!
Well, I shall call them to a higher court
And absolution they must seek from me!
Distraction I can understand full well
And would forgive as natural and pure
But this abhorrent curse I must dispel.
Approach, you malefactors! Take your cure!
I will confront the source of all these harms
For I know where the origin must lay!
No matter how compelling are their charms
I tell you now to put the sheep away!
I see that some of you do not believe
That we lie under some unlucky star!
Well, sit you back, and I shall, by your leave,
Present how sorry these affairs now are!

bardicmumming-5I summon forth a young and lusty swain
Who, as a shepherd, would, in normal days
Come seek a dance as flowers seek the rain
And show such skill that would your eyes amaze.
Out on the floor, he would examine all
The eligible maidens that desired
To be called forth and asked to join the ball,
But he would hold out ‘til he was inspired
By one so fair of face and sleek of limb
That one would think a nymph had joined the fun,
And, with her loveliness entrancing him,
He would attempt to be her special one.
He’d wrap his arms around her slender waist
And with sweet words the shepherdess he’d woo,
And see if he her honey lips might taste,
And then repeat with maiden number two
bardicmumming-4And maybe more, for, ladies, after all,
There is enough of him to go around.
‘Twould be a shame if, somewhere in the hall,
There was a maid with heart left on the ground.
Then later, he would tell his every friend
Of all the triumphs he’d achieved that night,
Of every mean he used, of every end,
And say which wonton showed the most delight.
And then they would their muscles and physiques
Put side by side to see whose was the best,
For young men will, their skills and their techniques,
As is their nature, put them to the test.
As it should be! Instead, what do we find?
He pets a sheep instead of chasing maids,
Caressing wool that has not been refined
Instead of maiden’s skin and maiden’s braids!
No more, I say! Bad shepherd, I insist!
Put down the sheep! Make ready for the dances
Or I shall drub thee soundly on thy wrist
Until this beast no longer thee entrances!
Present the beast, with you’t shall not remain!
Strike up your courage, man, and do not blench!
You have done what is right, and for your pain,
Take this embrace. Now go and find a wench!

bardicmumming-13To speak of wenches: now, here comes a maid
Who normally in dances would be found.
From such amusements she would not have strayed
But rather to such circles she’d be bound
And possibly a handsome swain she’d meet
And then distract him with her female charms.
As he approached, she would take to her feet
Evading lithely his embracing arms.
Yes, she would lead him on a merry chase.
She would approach, perhaps sit on his knee,
But if he would lean close, away she’d race,
Like in those dances learned from Italy.
But soon he would completely be entranced,
And she might deign her graces to bestow
That lucky man, on treasure he has chanced
That onto him such fortunes she would show!
But maybe not! Perhaps she might again
Escape his clumsy, awkward, gauche advances,
And, laughing, mock the foolishness of men
To think she might be won with graceless dances.
And afterward, when all the shepherdesses
Retired to some grove, as maidens do,
To brush each others’ hair and comb their tresses
And help each others’ corsets to undo,
bardicmumming-8Her dealings with the lads she would relate
And everyone with laughter near would burst
The silliness of swains they would debate,
And then with wines and ales they’d quench their thirst.
But do we see such wholesome doings here!
Why, no! This shepherdess her sheep must nuzzle!
Although some men of quality stand near,
She feels the need to stroke and rub its muzzle,
And from these lads she will withhold affection!
Come forward, girl, pay heed to my complaint!
You are in need of serious correction!
From this affliction, you must show restraint!
Put down the sheep! Don’t make me say it twice!
If you do not, more strongly I’ll insist!
Ah, lovely girl! You see? Is that not nice?
Your soul’s no longer lost! You are dismissed.

Alas, such tales are easy to recount,
Such tales of woe, such tales of wretchedness.
But I dare not narrate the whole amount,
Nor shame all the benighted populace.
bardicmumming-18But not because I lack the will to try
Nor am I to discuss these things afraid
But doing so would make the time slip by
And dancing will be even more delayed,
Which I am guessing is the wicked plan
These ovine devils plotted all along
But we will edit out as best we can
So I will simply call out to the throng!
Oh, you who also carry on with sheep
I do command you, stop with this distraction
Now cast them forward, no more yours to keep
Or risk the wrath of my dissatisfaction.
And now, to face the leaders of this plot!
Conspirers all! So foul, so treacherous!
But thank the Muses nine they have been caught
For holding up our sport so lecherous!
I know these troublemakers! I have seen
Their workings, like a pox upon the land!
The day they first arrived, these sheep have been
A strain upon our barony so grand!
They have brought mayhem, bedlam and confusion
Upon the most innocuous proceedings.
Of headaches we now suffer a profusion.
Our doctors give us heated cups and bleedings.
A curse upon the road they followed here!
These fleecy, wretched beasts with soulful eyes,
And bleatings that can’t help but to endear!
And cuddlings that draw forth happy sighs!
Oh, they’re so pwecious! Who’s a widdle sheep?
Oh, who’s a widdle sheepie? Yes, it’s you!
bardicmumming-14I want to bring you home so I might keep
You to myself, to kiss a time or two!
Oh, no, no, no! I’m starting to succumb!
Their diabolic cuteness is too much!
Enough! I cast you back to where you’re from!
And do not further tempt me with your touch!
Aroint thee, sheep! I tell thee, get thee gone!
I’ll place you where you’ll do no further harms!
So ere you see another sinful dawn
I’ll place thee under guard of royal arms!
With that, these ill-timed incidents I’ll close
And what has been delayed I’ll now advance.
So, lads and lasses, lose your cares and woes!
With gladsome hearts, make ready for the dance!

Photo by Lady Katherine O’Brien
Video by Lady Arlyana van Wyck