Commentary I:9

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The Song of Her Bow

Another chapter more or less verbatim from the first draft, save the addition of The Minstrel Girl.  This song popped into my head one day, and asked quite politely, bow drawn, to become a part of the history of the world.  There are some stray thoughts to write the girl’s actual tale, but so many other stories I fear have priority.

I think it’s worth noting that the tale implied does not simply mirror The Minstrel Boy, a tale of clearer tragedy, and a message perhaps more about loss, and refusing to bring comfort to your enemy.  I highlight here more the opposite, and something I think that echoes the recurring sentiment of the world I have crafted.  Standing up, not merely when you are the last one expected, but when you are the one who owes these people nothing.

A minstrel girl to war hath gone,
still plying her bow ‘n strings,
she’s pierced near the hearts,
with arrows as songs,
the minstrel girl of Dawn,

Lost a father for bread,
her mother for scorn,
armed with fiddle ‘fore bow,
long after adored everyone,
that little dear in Dawn,

These verses were where it started, capturing the image of an orphan waif, a minstrel street girl, become a soldier in some long gone war.  A bit playful with it’s puny lines, even as it promises sorrow and pain.

O’ With sorrow she strung,
ne’re a tear she shed,
each eve her cup was full,
great ‘n small hung their head,
for the songbird proud of Dawn,

This verse came in later, and was hemmed and hawed on the week I posted.  Another double meaning dropped here.  Those touched by her music, those felled by her arrows each hung their heads.  Her skills saw her each night alive, and her belly full.  Beloved by those she played for, and those she fought beside.

Of age she was comely,
and keen of the eye,
come one way or another,
none could pass there by,
great lady come from Dawn,

They crooned of her voice,
the song of her bow,
the curve of her chest,
the grace of her draw,
fair hero born of Dawn.

Here we take a bawdy turn.  A woman renowned for beauty, and many skills.  She knocked them dead, one way or another.  A girl becomes a woman, a woman a warrior.  We have such honor for warriors, and noble defenders, we have such scorn for sexuality, and yet we crave these carnal delights, they underpin so much of our society, and history.  We greet them with shame and honor in the same breath.  You cannot separate the girl who lost her innocence to war, from the girl who became a woman.  We live our lives from cradle to grave, crossing or drawing some new line.

She’s up on that hill,
where she tarried her days,
‘nother grave there beside,
prince or pauper none say,
who married a girl from Dawn.

So stand all good folk,
as a fierce lass once did,
utter take not another,
cry yet take me instead,
for home, for country, for Dawn.

Ambiguity closes our song, and yet how the tale ends the songwriter claims is not the point.  It was how she began, and how she lived.  A call to action, that though it once belonged to one land, now belongs to all.  A shining example of being the person the world needs, and how it feels about it be damned.

Oh Samantha.  I sometimes feel a bit odd about some of the humor here.  Yet the world’s opinions and mine, the baggage we carry about gender politics are open to interpretation.  I’ve read a line somewhere about part of becoming a good author, is letting your characters not be you.  Which is partly rubbish really.  I think admitting they are, in all their diversity, the voices in the back of our heads.  The ones we listen to, and ignore, of seeing people as not so very different, whatever their gender, culture, or creed, is more honest.  Yes, you have to let them make other choice than you would have, because their histories and pressures are different, but you can only have them believably make choices you can understand.  It all has to come from somewhere.

In general there is a glimpse here to somewhere I differ from some.  I own it in my writing often.  These roll reversals are not simply me turning social expectations on their head, but my experience.  I’ve known so many women who were far fiercer than most of the men around me.  I own the distinction that being smaller, and yet so fierce is all the more spectacular.  Samantha is a honey badger.  She lost her mother very young, and was reluctantly taken in by her absent father on his late return.  She didn’t have many choices.  Be a survivor, be tough, and do as she damn well pleased, or be some timid flower.  Mercu’s choices made hers far narrower.  There is some bad blood in that, but she loves who she is, and who she became standing up.  The world isn’t fair, and when we expect less of it, I think there is nothing wrong in honoring that some of us are asked to be several times greater, to get half the respect.


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