Scroll Text Sunday – Catalina’s Laurel Text

Greetings all. I’m a day late for Scroll Text Sunday because I was at Valor over Labor Day. Today I’ll put up one of my favorites of all time, the Laurel text I wrote for Catalina de Arazuri.

The Laurel is one of the highest awards given in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and is bestowed upon people with great skill in at least one art or science.

I chose to write her text in the muwashshah style, a style of poetry that appeared in the 800s or so and was popular in Andalusian during Catalina’s period. It is structured as stanzas of rhyming couplets separated by a chorus that is held together by a rhyme throughout the poem. Usually, as I’ve done here, there are five stanzas.

One of the reasons I have chosen this style is that in period it was seen as a representation of the ornamented belt worn by dancers. The idea is that the stanzas are ornaments hanging from a belt formed by the refrains. This seemed too appropriate to Catalina not to choose.

Catalina – Laurel Text

A squall came over the river
When the moon was but a sliver
As if Andalusia weeping
Sent her tears to river sleeping
Each bead of shimmering water                           5
The land’s love of golden daughter

Asking all from Mecca to here
To view bright pearl of Calontir

Alqsar gardens in their splendor
Crave her steps so soft and tender                    10
The elegance that in palace dwells
Envies her pace swift as gazelles
Arches and columns sadly stand
Missing those adorned by her hand

They ask caliph to lend his ear                               15
Hear of bright pearl of Calontir

Through flowing pines a wind so soft
Calls those Allah has held aloft
Matsu Caliph the falcon’s sword
With Elena Calipha’s true accord                        20
Ask Their lords and ladies renowned
To list words of justice profound

Spoken by crafters of things so dear
Attest well bright pearl of Calontir

Garlands of laurels she has earned                      25
With flowing skills both taught and learned
We cannot list the gifts bestowed
As lovely as December’s snow
She has increased your kingdom’s worth
As though she brought heaven to earth           30

They now pronounce for all to hear
Reward due bright pearl of Calontir

Caliph and Calipha both agree
Such gifts must thus rewarded be
Let her be adorned in trappings old                     35
That recognize such brilliant souls
When horses prance and falcons soar
Fifty years since the lions first roared.

Behold forever the leaves so dear
That adorn bright pearl of Calontir                      40

Behold forever the leaves so dear
That adorn bright pearl of Calontir


Lines 1-2: Translation of The Guadalquivir in Flood by Ibn Safar al-Marini, a 12th-century poet. The Guadalaquivir is the river that flows through Seville, Catalina’s persona’s home.

Line 8: The pearl appears all the time in period Andalusian poetry. Hence, I used it as the way to refer to Catalina in the refrain.

Line 9: Alqsar is the Arabic spelling of Alcazar, the famous palace in Seville.

Line 14: This is a reference to the gardens in the Alcazar. As a side note, you’ve seen these courtyards and gardens in Kingdom of Heaven.

Line 28: A pun on Catalina’s real name. I thought of using Dujambir, which is how the Moroccans say it, and I thought of using the Arabic name, but December flowed too well when spoken compared to the options.

Line 30: Another pun, referring to her daughter. Again, I thought of the Arabic term, Janna, but heaven flowed too well when spoken.

Line 37: A reference to Horse and Falcon, the event where this award was given, and in this way I have dated the event.

Line 39: 1437 AH is almost impossible to put into verse form, so I settled for using the year of the Society for Creative Ananchronism  in metaphorical form. The lion’s roaring is a reference to a gate in the Alcazar which, though not period to Catalina’s time, is still cool, at least to me.




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