She has her own glamour, Willy lad. All poets do, all the bards and artists, all the musicians who truly take the music into their own hearts. They all straddle the border of Faerie, and they see into both worlds. Not dependably into either, perhaps, but that uncertainty keeps them honest and at a distance.
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
And so they lived many happy years, and the promised tasks were accomplished. Yet long afterward, when all had passed away into distant memory, there were many who wondered whether King Taran, Queen Eilonwy, and their companions had indeed walked the earth, or whether they had been no more than dreams in a tale set down to beguile children. And, in time, only the bards knew the truth of it.
The American bards shall be marked for generosity and affection and for encouraging competitors... The great poets are also to be known by the absence in them of tricks and by the justification of perfect personal candor... How beautiful is candor! All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.
Stories ought not to be just little bits of fantasy that are used to wile away an idle hour; from the beginning of the human race stories have been used - by priests, by bards, by medicine men - as magic instruments of healing, of teaching, as a means of helping people come to terms with the fact that they continually have to face insoluble problems and unbearable realities.
What is the end of Fame? 'tis but to fill A certain portion of uncertain paper: Some liken it to climbing up a hill, Whose summit, like all hills, is lost in vapour: For this men write, speak, preach, and heroes kill, And bards burn what they call their "midnight taper," To have, when the original is dust, A name, a wretched picture, and worse bust.
THE POET A moody child and wildly wise Pursued the game with joyful eyes, Which chose, like meteors, their way, And rived the dark with private ray: They overleapt the horizon's edge, Searched with Apollo's privilege; Through man, and woman, and sea, and star, Saw the dance of nature forward far; Through worlds, and races, and terms, and times, Saw musical order, and pairing rhymes. Olympian bards who sung Divine ideas below, Which always find us young, And always keep us so.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The poetical tendency of the present and of the preceding century has been divided in a manner singularly curious. One loud and conspicuous faction of bards, giving way to the corrupt influences of a decaying general culture, seems to have abandoned all the properties of versification and reason in its mad scramble after sensational novelty; whilst the other and quieter school constituting a more logical evolution from the poesy of the Georgian period, demands an accuracy of rhyme and metre unknown even to the polished artists of the age of Pope.
H. P. Lovecraft
Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches - nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species. -speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1962
Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches - nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species. --speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1962
The Song of the Winged Ones is a song of celebration, written as though the singer were standing on the Dragon Isle watching the dragons flying in the sun. The words are full of wonder at the beauty of the creatures; and there is a curious pause in the middle of one of the stanzas near the end, where the singer waits a full four measures in silence for those who listen to hear the music of distant dragon wings. It seldom fails to bring echoes of something beyond the silence, and is almost never performed because many bards fear it. I love it.
Much have I traveled in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne, Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He stared at the Pacific, and all his men Look'd at each other with a wild surmise, Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, and their responsibilities have been decreed by our species... the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit - for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.
Mangled heroes from both sides of the nameless conflict lay scattered in comical disregard. Valiant and dignified death poses embody a fiction found in the epic poems of minstrels and bards; fanciful reflections lacking merit in warfare. Athen briefly wondered if the ghosts of the proud knights haunted the battlefield; staring down at their ridiculous corpses with embarrassment or plotting appropriate punishments for the scavengers ransacking their empty husks. A life of chivalry and honor apparently culminated in the soiling of greaves while lying face down in your comrade's shit. The field reeked of more than just feces, blood, and vomit.
Now, as I understand it, the bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. If you were just some magician, if you'd pissed off some witch, then what's she gonna do, she's gonna put a curse on you, and what's gonna happen? Your hens are gonna lay funny, your milk's gonna go sour, maybe one of your kids is gonna get a hare-lip or something like that - no big deal. You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you. And if he was a skilful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community, it shows you up as ridiculous, lame, pathetic, worthless, in the eyes of your community, in the eyes of your family, in the eyes of your children, in the eyes of yourself, and if it's a particularly good bard, and he's written a particularly good satire, then three hundred years after you're dead, people are still gonna be laughing, at what a twat you were.
I would travel far and wide... seeing, listening, creating. I would weave tales for an enthralled audience. A song would be heard throughout the kingdom, and I would be a part of that. You would normally think that a bard would pick up his tales from stories heard in his travels or, perhaps, from personal observation of these events. Perhaps some bards would create the stories themselves or, at least, adapt the original versions heard... But what if the bard were really more than a bard? What if he were once a gallant knight or an old sea captain... perhaps even a forgotten prince? What if the stories he told, what if the characters brought to life in his stories, were really of his comrades and himself? Stories from long ago that he finally wished to be heard? What if those who listened to his tales, all the while assuming that they were far disconnected from their communicator, were really listening to the narrative of a wanderer intimately connected to it all? And where would such an individual go when his final days as an 'official' bard were spent? Perhaps he would decide to retire in a lighthouse. For, surely, no place would be more fitting for the hero emeritus. He would gaze upon the glorious sea in recollection... guiding others with the beacon of light atop his home as he had once been shepherded. The adventurer became the storyteller... and then the Sentinel of the Sea.
The Day is Done The day is done, and the darkness Falls from the wings of Night, As a feather is wafted downward From an eagle in his flight. I see the lights of the village Gleam through the rain and the mist, And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me That my soul cannot resist: A feeling of sadness and longing, That is not akin to pain, And resembles sorrow only As the mist resembles the rain. Come, read to me some poem, Some simple and heartfelt lay, That shall soothe this restless feeling, And banish the thoughts of day. Not from the grand old masters, Not from the bards sublime, Whose distant footsteps echo Through the corridors of Time. For, like strains of martial music, Their mighty thoughts suggest Life's endless toil and endeavor; And to-night I long for rest. Read from some humbler poet, Whose songs gushed from his heart, As showers from the clouds of summer, Or tears from the eyelids start; Who, through long days of labor, And nights devoid of ease, Still heard in his soul the music Of wonderful melodies. Such songs have power to quiet The restless pulse of care, And come like the benediction That follows after prayer. Then read from the treasured volume The poem of thy choice, And lend to the rhyme of the poet The beauty of thy voice. And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares, that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, And as silently steal away.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow