Seldom Seen is Soon Forgot
This is adapted from a 14th Century poem written for the death of King Edward the third and his son, Edward of Woodstock (known as "The Black Prince," but probably not during his lifetime.) All but the last stanza were written by an anomymous 14th Century poet in Middle English – I translated and adapted it for performance. The final stanza was written by me for Angus' divestiture as Baron of Concordia. It was presented as a whole at that event.
1. Oh dear God, how can it be
that all things waste and wear away?
Friendship is only vanity,
And barely lasts the length of day.
When tested men oft go astray
and horde with greed, not give as they ought;
their faith is fickle so I say,
That seldom seen is soon forgot.
2. Yet not without a cause I tell,
and therefore take you right good heed,
for if you make my meaning well
then you shall know true dread indeed;
and then for shame your hearts will bleed,
for we are by our conscience caught –
he who sheltered us in need
is seldom seen and soon forgot
3. Some time an English ship we owned
of noble height and lofty sail
and through the world it was renowned
as ever it would in war prevail.
It steadfast stood through fiercest gale,
the strongest storm would shake it not,
but now I find that ship seems frail,
it’s seldom seen and soon forgot.
4. That ship possessed a rudder strong
to steer it straight, to course commit,
and ne'er it went awry or wrong
for the hands at the helm were sure and fit
while ship and rudder were surely knit
it sailed through storms without a thought,
but now asunder they are split
and seldom seen is soon forgot
5. Sharp waves that ship has seen and sailed
but stayed its course all straight the more.
Where it went it never failed,
not while that rudder would endure.
Though seas were rough and weather poor
to harbor safe that boat was brought,
but now that ship, I am well sure
is seldom seen and soon forgot.
6. That rudder was neither oak nor elm
but Edward the Third, the noble knight
his son would man the vessel's helm
and steered through many a fearsome fight
The King was matchless in his might,
and none more fierce than the prince has fought,
but now all thoughts of them are slight
for seldom seen is soon forgot.
7. So therefore keep them close to mind –
our doughty king who died when old,
and our prince, who fell by fate unkind,
an endless spring of spirit bold.
Two lords so high will we behold?
Their like I can imagine not,
but now their fame is hardly told,
it's seldom seen and soon forgot.
8. And so these lords are laid full low,
a stock now stems from self-same root,
a sprig is reaching, begins to grow,
who may soon earn much great repute –
to keep our foemen under foot,
and gain us glory without a spot.
May Christ now grant this kingly shoot
though seldom seen be not forgot
9. When this sprig to stature has grown,
and wholly able to take command,
I pray he may be proudly known
as conqueror of many a land,
for he is fit of heart and hand,
and suited well for soldier's lot.
May God now grant where'er he stands
though seldom seen be ne'er forgot.
10. So let me urge what I have said,
until this sprig has time to grow,
let every man hold up his head
and serve him, both the high and low.
Our foemen can both boast and blow,
they threaten us with hatred hot,
and we are sluggish, dull, and slow
when seldom seen is soon forgot.
11. One poet is done, but pray attend –
another one has words to share:
of Angus, whose rule has come to end,
who yields this barony to his heir.
His leadership was beyond compare,
the like this land has witnessed not
in our hearts he'll stay wheree'er he fares,
and if seldom seen, be ne'er forgot.