Winter Revel

Fires in the hearth roar
Warmth of companionship spreads
Friends bellow greetings
Games, gambling, and hot sake
Backgammon under the plum

Sugawara no Tokihira

Liner notes:

This poem was composed for the Pentamere Pilgrimage Challenge.  The PPC involves attending five events in Pentamere, at least three outside your local group, plus an event outside of Pentamere; for every two additional events, you get a bonus entry for prizes.  Entrants are tasked to keep some sort of token from each event to prove their attendance.  I have decided that I will compose a poem for each event, including calligraphy.  This is the first poem in the series, Winter Revel.

The imagery in this focuses on the heat produced in a winter gathering of friends.  Hearths and hot sake are terms associated with winter.  ‘Roar’ and ‘bellow’ convey the sound of many friends gathering, but are also words associated with fire.  One of the themes of Winter Revel was playing games.  In particular, Baron Odo challenged all comers to a game of backgammon; if His Excellency won, a dollar was donated to the Royal Travel fund, if he lost, the winner was to get a strand of pearls (he now owes me 12 strands! and the travel fund is $4 richer).  Sugoroku is the Japanese game of backgammon, and was introduced to Japan before the start of period.  Early Heian boards were decorated with floral motifs instead of the traditional alternating color elongated triangles, and crescents at each end of where the bar would be.  Gameplay and set-up is identical to modern backgammon, except possibly the doubling cube.  Plum blossoms (ume) are associated with winter, as well as Sugawara no Michizane, the great-grandfather of my persona.  When I put this poem to paper, I intend to decorate the borders with ume to make the paper look like an early Heian sugoroku board.

The form is waka, Japanese in origin with a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern of syllables.  Winter Revel was held 8th day of 12th month, AS XLVIII.  I hope to have a photo of the completed calligraphy in a future update.

Posted in Poetry, SCA. 1 Comment »

One Response to “Winter Revel”

  1. Sugawara no Tokihira Says:

    Some additional info on sugoroku, including pictures of period boards:

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