On Terms Bardic

ERIN NHAMINERVA amazon at mercury.sfsu.edu
Sun Sep 3 17:12:15 PDT 1995

Greetings to all:
   The term "Bard", according to P.W. Joyce (A Social History Of Ancient 
Ireland) means "poet", but is not a designation of degree. It was common 
usage for a self taught poet or a common rhymer. He quotes the Book Of 
Rights as saying "A bard is one without lawful learning but his own 
intellect". Filidh (lit. "poisoned sweetness", or one who lawfully is 
entitled to compose both planxty and satire) or Ollamh are the titles of 
actual degrees. He goes on to say, however, that in the twelve year 
course laid down in the Book of Ollaves, that a person was considered a 
bard on completion of the seventh year. Perhaps it was considered less 
than respectable because the degree was unfinished? There's also an 
extensive table of degrees in both bardic and monastic schools in the 
same chapter and nowhere on it is the term "bard" ever mentioned. 
   Well, that's a lot more than you probably wanted to know, but the 
distinction is one I've been trying to refine for quite some time. As a 
pass-the-hat performer with an Irish persona on the Faire circuit, the 
term has often been applied to me and I wanted to know exactly what it 
meant. I also sell recordings and was at a loss as to what to call them 
as the term "cassette" or "tape" is more than a little out of period. 
Someone suggested "Bard In A Box", and I liked it, but thought the term 
was losing its original meaning too. Now I find that we in the street are 
not only entitled to it, but it's not exactly complimentary..... 
   As long as I'm at it, I might as well introduce myself. I'm Faire 
Folk, rather than SCA, and I mainly work as a pass-the-hat performer 
under the name Sorche Tanrahan, or The Black Rose. I wouldn't mind 
getting hooked into the SCA, but till recently I was in school and Faire 
was lucrative (believe it or not) and so I stuck to that in my limited 
spare time. 

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