A Sonnet from the Saibhrean Isles

Coaklester Keep, Saibhrean Isles

Unlike the academics in the Caelon peninsula and in Torium who are primarily confined to their respective colleges, the bards of the Saibhrean Isles north and west of Caelon play more of an active role with the politics of the islands. They are chroniclers, scribes and satirists for their lords, the great Trade Barons. Not only do they entertain, usually by praising the lords they serve and cursing those who cross them, but they are also tasked with recording the history of their houses. They are an integral part of Saibhrean society and their caste is highly regarded throughout the islands, even if that sentiment does not extend to the main land.

The bards of the Saibhrean Isles, as opposed to the clerics of the mainland, are also much more well known for writing romantic poetry, something that the clerics typically deem vulgar. As such, their poems about unrequited love are not regarded well, and those bards most well known on the Saibhrean Isles for their songs about longing and attraction are considered taboo subjects for the clerics and their way.

One such poem was by the poet Bróccan, one of the transient bards who traveled between many of the cities on the isles with his poetry. Unlike court bards, he had no formal allegiance and was welcome in most places he went, with the exception of Coaklester, where he was explicitly barred from entry at the behest of the court bard Murchad. In his poem “Locks of Cherry” he describes a fair skinned woman with bright red hair with whom he has immediately become enamored.

Locks of Cherry

Whom shall keep such a fair sight from my eyes?
Twas chance I saw her, and by chance I did tarry.
With skin so lush and pale, like winter sunrise;
I basked in the glory of her locks of cherry.
Surely no man has seen a fairer damsel,
North or South, West or East across the seas:
There are none whose beauty is so substantial
As the one whose visage made me freeze.
No pawn nor king may resist her charms;
And any man with healthy eyes can see;
A treasure has he who holds her in his arms.
If you saw her, you surely would agree.
And if that man were me, I would be merry
To meander through her locks of cherry.

Bróccan the Bard

It is unknown to whom the subject of the sonnet refers, and the bard himself will not provide a name. There is some speculation, however, that he could be referring to Gormlaith, the daughter of the Trade Baron Máel-dúin of Coaklester. In this popular theory, the bard attempted to woo the lady and thus was exiled from the city. However, this is unproven and there has always been an air of mystery around the bard and his muse.

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