The Wandering Minstrel.

a poem by Denis Barter, Canada - poetry writer, author, poet

In history one can read of an earlier time,
When poetry and lyrics written in rhyme,
Were commonplace. A travelling band
Of troubadours would wander the land,
Writing and singing, to bestow delights
On ladies, peasants, and errant knights.

Their patrons, be they lowly serf or highest Lord,
Entertained by devious plots and lyrical chord,
Heard tales of knaves, heroes, and battles won:
Honour besmirched, or yarns of some daring one
Who sought the world for a maiden fair.
Such chronicles were staples of medieval fare.

Minstrels sang of chases where a villain evades
Capture by those who hounded him. Escapades
Often ended with Heroes living happily evermore!
Of such quixotic tales, they had a myriad more.
Though some were fiction or as some thought,
Others focused on real life and battles fought.

Troubadours dispensed critical information,
To many isolated communities of a Nation.
Regarded the font of most important news,
Based often on rumour or personal views.
When such items were musically submitted
Poetic licence was frequently permitted.

Considered ‘knowing’ by a gathered throng,
When Minstrels reported events in simple song,
They recorded historical events taking place,
As they journeyed around from place to place.
Some humour would make the tale more inviting
Whilst small embellishment made it more exciting.

This meant truth could be confused by fantasy;
Oft cunningly exploited by the “upper” hierarchy
When it suited their plans. By altering the facts
In times when the support of disreputable acts
Was required, they could easily instigate a riot
Or by inflammatory rhetoric, foment disquiet!

A few, by use of witty lines, could be malicious
Or when muddied with lies, be purely fictitious.
Accomplished raconteurs could purposely villify
Using rumour and gossip, no one could verify,
But most minstrels could only entertain a crowd,
If and when local Burghers and By-laws allowed.

To us those ways seem strange or merely amuse,
For we mostly stay home to get late breaking news.
Although some fans attend a live musical group,
Except for the novelty, few have heard of a troupe
Such as those old Troubadours. There’s little call
Today for such as performers of the Old Music Hall.

One sometimes sees a Busker; a pale counterpart
Who mimics the old minstrel troubadour’s art.
With words, music or comical quip he’ll amuse
And engage folks, who stand in various queues.
Although possessed of talent, few seemingly go far,
Though some do persevere, and become a star.

Few folks see a performance by a travelling band:
Or visit someone performing a one night stand.
Today’s counterpart of troubadour or balladeer,
Employs an army of helpers, as is plainly clear,
Without the lights and sound system folks expect,
Their music and words would have little effect.

Such is the tone of entertainment in this day and age,
Only avid fans gather to hear them perform on stage
Where music heard, is attended by pulsing a noise,
Used to arouse the young, teenaged girls and boys.
Today Balladeers have faded into memory’s mists
And the true Troubadour or Minstrel no longer exists.

Rhymer. September 18th, 2014.

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