first project (poetic tales of loyalty)

Medieval tales of loyal knights arise from a society based on trust
Kingdoms based on feudalism and unjust
The code of the medieval warrior
Honor valor courtesy and loyalty
Helped them stay in line
Individuality died
distribution of power starting with a king
Nobles granted land 
But here's the thing
Their military must devote their lives
For royal bloodlines and bling
Apparently the peasants had a sweet deal
At Least that’s what they thought
Loyal to the land and loyal to the boss  
A humble home and military protection 
for workload and sense of self lost
No payment other than a fraction of their harvest
It doesn't matter who worked hardest
In order to keep peasants honest
When times got darkest
integrated society and culture
Loyalty to vultures
That picked the dead meat from every poor man
They just didn’t understand
Tales like Beowulf were influenced by the importance of a loyal subject
Reward for loyalty to your lord and king except
To them it meant everything
Social order
Building borders
From the start Beowulf was loyal to Hrothgar, as he had helped his father
Grendel's severed arm floated in deep dark swamp water
Represents true loyalty to one’s master
Showers of gifts and treasure bestowed
Where true valor is shown
Grendel’s mother seeks revenge
Beowulf protects his king to the end
Avenging Aeschere’s death
In the name of loyalty
loyal to me
Swamp hag defeated
Hell do whatever is needed
Victorious return to Geatland
Where King Hygelac and Queen Hygd stand
Treasure awarded to Beowulf for his dedication yet passed it to his king
Proving whole hearted protection Beowulf would bring
Anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet had a point to get across
His or her name has been lost
Loyalty is rewarded one way or another
But is it worth your life?
Don't you love her?
Hygelac is killed tragically in battle
The kingdom was shook up oh how it rattled
Kingship  bestowed on loyal Beowulf
Representing reward for undying trust and loyalty 
Dragon awakens
Decrepit Beowulf fears his land will be taken
twelve men give him a hand
Yet just one will stand
Alongside his king
Throughout everything
You must be loyal don't forget
Risking death in the ultimate test
Give their lives to find there’s nothing left
When the mighty king falls
The dragon is slain
Loyal Wiglaf is rewarded
And kingship calls
Medieval culture of manorialism
Convinced to give their lives
For an unseen prize
yet who is satisfied?
Marie De France captures loyalty
In her tales of sacrifice and chivalry
King Arthur told me
New lands can be lonely
Lanval feels neglected
Knightship is not what he expected
two purple gowned ladies deflected
Lanval’s dedication to society
Leaving his horse by a tree
He must have felt so free
Gold dishes and towels in hand
Meet lanval as he rides across the land
Brought to meet his mistress in the golden sand
Offered all the wealth he desires
Too good to be true
His visit must be kept secret
He must not act a fool
Or he will undo
Invisible loves trust
As she turns to dust
Unsure if she was real
Lanval was not sure how to feel
Fast forward and the Queen comes on to him
Both options prove a mortal sin
Lanval reveals tales of his mistress
Sending Queen into distress
Accusation of homosexuality
Disloyalty brought tragedy
Lanval stands trial
Some in denial
As promised in comes his goddess
Proving him honest
Sticky situation forced him to be disloyal
Another story of dedicated trust almost soiled
A lesson that tells us
You must stay loyal to the crown no matter how much you are pushed around
The end goal is much more profound
Although the kingdom may have kept him safe
The individual has no place
Peasantry gave their lives
For an unfair promise disgraced
Medieval themes of loyalty
Stretch across lands as far as the eye can see
Elegant authors brainwashed
To control society
Kings seen as deities
Nobility plagued with anxieties
That the peasantry will recognize themselves
As individuals
Since the beginning of language
Literature has influenced society
Sets the rules
Played for fools
Loyalty stressed
By people oppressed
Declare loyalty to the king
A necessary thing
Just goes to show how writers can be influenced
To us they seem ignorant
Writing from the past unlocks a door 
To some special mystery
A useful tool for
unlocking history

Understanding history

I decided to write somewhat of a poem or song to express my thoughts on this unit because everything we read was rather poetic. I think that Beowulf and Marie De France’s stories were both very beautifully written, with rhymes and patterns. I admire this about medieval and renaissance writing so i decided to make a long story/poem as well. I chose the theme of loyalty to connect the stories because I have researched different aspects of medieval history and loyalty seems to be a recurring theme. Feudalism was increasingly prevalent in those times and loyalty controlled the way of life for society. If a peasant was not loyal to their lord, or a lord not loyal to his overlord, the system that supposedly kept everyone safe would collapse. This is why I think the theme of loyalty is and was so prevalent. I believe the writers intended to make loyalty important in their pieces, because it was important to the way society worked as a whole. The ruler of a kingdom would trust in lords to oversee the military and make sure the “overlord” stays safe, and in return the lords are granted land in which they can rent out to peasants or serfs in return for most of the crops they yield and their devotion to the lords. Loyalty was so prevalent because society ran that way. It was important that everything the common people saw or read glorified loyalty so that the feudal system could continue working the way it had. The problem with this is this is how the rich get richer by taking from peasants. 

Feudalist societies were structured in a very hierarchical manor, and this was the most important aspect of feudalism. This system was primarily based on administrative control and the distribution of land refer to as fiefs. A landlord (usually a noble) would grant a peasant ( referred to as vassals) a portion of land, military and legal protection; in return for a regular payment from the vassal. The King would be at the top of this chain and would grant a noble man a parcel of land and in return a multitude of things could be asked for such as money, crops, or military duty. It is very clear that a system like this could easily crumble if loyalty fails. I believe this is why medieval literature has a reoccurring theme of loyalty, especially to the nobility and the crown. The functionality of these feudal kingdoms relied on the fact that peasants would respect their lords and always remain loyal.

This is what makes literature so powerful and important, the fact that you can influence and change society with the words you write. Marie De France wrote these tales with themes of loyalty because it was so important at the time and to her. The writer has the power to influence society and the way people think, that is what makes literature so powerful. Also we can read these tales in the present day and analyze the past as well as make assumptions as to how the times were. Literature serves as a time travel tool in the way that it can show you how the people of this time period thought and what was important to them. This is why text is so prevalent when trying to understand history or research a certain point in history, and why literature is so important. Literature has the power to affect the past, present and future, and very few things can do that.

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One thought on “first project (poetic tales of loyalty)

  1. Hey,
    Beautifully done! I think this was a great way to meditate on loyalty and feudalism. The poem is written in such a way that it feels like an Old English epic in cadence and theme, but reads understandably to a modern audience. I also love this line, “Loyalty stressed | By people oppressed”. It’s a powerful take in very few words about how loyalty was expected of and enforced upon those below, but never above. Such deep-rooted hypocrisy. Awesome job!

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