Virtual Verduria

Verdurian Poetics

This monograph is a very inadequate introduction to the subject of Verdurian poetics. The chief aim is to indicate the major features of Verdurian eyurcrivát, such that readers will be able to recognize the various genres when they see them, and have some idea of what a Verdurian would find in them. Examples are provided, including a scene from Šaymeon's verse play, Crefuselta im Ctesifonán.

For an anthology of Verdurian poetry, with samples of all the classic authors, see the Prosizel suetlec; for a manual on poetry writing, Eley's Liroš er lirom is excellent, and largely free of the prescriptivism and whimsicality which generally afflict such works.

Types of discourse: eyure vs. iscun

Poetry is much more prevalent in Verdurian (and historic terrestrial) culture than in our own. To a Verdurian, poetry is not an affectation, a school subject, or an object of idolatry, but a common, living thing, the possession of peasants and scholars alike.

We generally separate 'poetry' from 'prose' (even if, like Molière's bourgeois, this leads to the conclusion that we summon the chambermaid in prose). A Verdurian, rather, sees poetry (eyurcrivát, literally 'lovely writing') as the most eloquent and masterful form of writing. Poetry is prose well spoken: it does what prose does, but does it better. Eyurcrivát is opposed to iscuncrivát ('simple writing')-- common, unadorned writing or prose.

Eyurcrivát is taken as an intensification or beautification of iscuncrivát. The refinement is not restricted to rhyme or meter. A Verdurian would consider Joyce or Chesterton or Synge or Robbe-Grillet to be eyurcrivát, even though they write what we would call prose.

At the same time it is recognized that the difference between eyure and iscun is not merely one of degree, but that they are different aesthetics. Iscuncrivát has its own sort of excellence, which is admired precisely because it is simple, accessible, and direct. A Verdurian would consider Mark Twain, or E.B. White, or C.S. Lewis, or John McPhee to be iscuncrivát.


The genres of literature are pomäe (chronicle, legend), racont (story), šant (song), cevai (chant), ralinë (play), kallogi (speech), onemu (essay), and curayora (argument).


The fundamental basis of eyurcrivát is meter. A line in English poetry is broken into feet, normally consisting of a fixed number of syllables, one accented. Verdurian eyurcrivát is divided into sulirulî (phrases), with two accents each, and no fixed number of syllables.

If you take any ordinary patch of Verdurian--

Ésecom Anfréii defasadre creri cum padec uestuin pro tróuen soa miuräma žoya Otvëčátei. Felce pro dënin; řo kešne sul nočín pro lengein orátin soin aďin tëšrífein.

Ésecom son of Anfréy set out from port with forty men, to find the marvelous Jewel of Otvëčát. He sailed for days, halting only by night for long prayers to the familiar gods.

it turns very easily into sulirulî:

Ésecom anFRÉii
defaSAdre ceREI
cum PAdec uesTUin
pro TRÓuen soa miuRÄma
ŽOya otvëČÁtei.
FELce pro DËnin;
řo KEŠne sul noČÍN
pro lenGEin oRÁtin
soin Aďin tëŠRIfein.

At base, then, eyurcrivát is a regularization of natural speech patterns. And because it is based on the natural phrases of Verdurian speech, one must not depart too much from natural phrasing. A Verdurian reading a (modern) English poem and finding he did speak for he spoke would not consider such an alteration, introduced only to fill out the meter, to be eyure at all, but merely awkward.

At least this level of eyurcrivát is within the reach of all. A speech or a story needs only a little touching up to be given in sulirulî, and the result sounds very good to the Verdurian ear.


Eyurcrivát is more than just meter, of course. In this section I'll review some of the other surface-level embellishments recognized by Verdurian authorities.

Parallelism (ďunmizo) is saying the same thing twice, in slightly different ways. Old Testament poetry relied heavily on the same effect. An example:

Ya soî curulî proikibü so nom Eleďei,
im syelán ořiznakre so hipcrivel zië.

The very stars proclaim the name of Eleď;
He has emblazoned his signature in heaven.

Similarly, the refrain (onmizo) repeats an earlier thought.

In both cases, the effect is best if the repetitions add meaning, or change the focus; thus the semi-refrain (onmizo).

Benul e ilu ke gaice is nišán soem curulem
er indësne soem almeem samrömem.

Blessed is he who formed the stars from nothing
And called the countless worlds into being.

With alliteration (nenavuá), the first accented syllable in the second sulirul on a line alliterates with one or both of the accented syllables of the first sulirul. (It is bad form for all four accented syllables to alliterate.) Thus:

Ila ďuvne alďoron,   ac ro ďevne želea lië;
soa olo serizee lië   mautrure faš lië.

She frowned at the elder, but did not touch his calm;
the feeling in his gaze destroyed her anger.

Verdurian poets do not use rhyming dictionaries, but dictionaries of alliteration, in which the same word is often listed twice, depending on the placement of the accent in various forms: e.g. fel 'sail' is listed under f, but the genitive felei under l.

One might also alliterate the beginning syllables of adjacent or alternating sulirulî. But note that alliteration of entire words (as in 'Bugs Bunny') is done only rarely.

Vowels always alliterate with each other. Consonant clusters need not match, though it is an added adornment if they do.

A fancier and rather difficult trick is the syllable echo (nenalte), where an entire syllable is repeated: soî ranî one 'the frogs of heaven'. The nenaltî are rarely placed in the same sulirul:

Šatem lescomî   mizu bešanem zië.
<Onzanmei zafra!>   Mey e muán dedë.

A hundred merchants make their promises.
"Come back tomorrow!" Water is less shaky.

True rhyme (neneresau) is rare in Verdurian, since most Verdurian syllables end in a vowel, and İyme thus reduces to assonance: řavica caďina 'Caďinorian valor'.

The drop (tombo) is a descent into ordinary unmetrical speech, the aesthetic equivalent of passing suddenly from a trot to a walk.

The missing beat (mancu) is a sulirul with a missing accent, which has an arresting effect.


There are four historical schools (mencî) of eyurcrivát: the Caďinorian, the Old New, the New New, and the Ducal. (The first three of these also corresponds to schools of musical composition, which will not however be discussed here.)

An interesting new development, though it is not yet considered a menca (school), is rude (primitive) poetry--imitations of foreign sources, known through trade or colonization. particularly the mythic folk songs of Nan, the ecstatic utterances of the Qaraumcán, and the earthy lays and incantations of Téllinor. Verdurians cannot quite bring themselves to consider these eyurî, lovely-- they are classified as iscuncrivát-- but they are fascinated by their vitality and rhythmic power.

There has been, curiously, less cross-fertilization from less exotic realms. Ismaîn, Barakhinei, and Benécian poetry also derives from Caďinor models, and they have learned more from Verdurian than it has from them, at least in the realm of poetry proper rather than, say, music. Kebreni poetry relies chiefly on syllable counts, which Verdurians find mechanical. And Xurnáš, though it has been mined for philosophical insights and exotic subjects, has had no influence on Verdurian poetry.

Crefuselta im Ctesifonán


As an extended sample of eyurcrivát I have provided a scene from Pédrot Šaymeon's Crefuselta im Ctesifonán (Twilight in Ctésifon), the fourth in his nine-play cycle celebrating the rise of modern Ctésifon from the ruins of Caďinas. Šaymeon writes of course in Ctésifoni dialect, but in writing the differences from Mažtane are few (and are discussed in the Notes following the romanized text below).

Stylistically, the play is written in two-sulirul lines, with alliteration the main embellishment. Šaymeon writes in the leblebë or New New School. The subgenre or type of play is the caďina (Caďinorian drama).

In 2917 Bura, a Caďinorian noble, expelled the Curiyans from Ctésifon, which these barbarians had occupied 125 years before (the "long centuries" in the text are a rhetorical exaggeration). Avtor, then Lord of Verduria, send congratulations and gifts, which Bura was pleased to deem tribute, befitting his status as the restored Caďinorian Emperor, though his realm was restricted to present-day Ctésifon, Solhai, Guaya, and Bažra.

(The Curiyans did not vanish, as the text implies; they were simply pushed south, where they still remain, though today they speak Verdurian.)

Bura was succeeded in 2941 by his son Ertala, who demanded tribute and sworn fealty from Avtor's son Caleon. Caleon, fresh from victories in the Western Wild, did come, but Ertala's arrogance outraged him, and he returned to Verduria and proclaimed himself King (2943). Ertala ordered his generals to pursue him, but they refused, on the grounds that the army was too small. Ertala executed the generals, but built up the army. When he judged it ready, he sent it north, where it was devastated by Caleon (2950). Caleon now marched on Ctésifon, proclaiming that Ertala was fikšäm com ečomun, "to be whipped like a schoolboy." Ertala killed himself rather than suffer this indignity.

Considering that it deals with the Verdurian conquest of Ctésifon, the play is very favorable to Verduria. The play begins with Caleon's visit to Ctésifon. Šaymeon portrays the last emperor as a man slowly going mad, leading the Empire into ruin along with him; Caleon is depicted as brusque but noble, and brings back to Verduria much he has learned in Ctésifon. It is no wonder the play is well loved in Verduria, while in Ctésifon it is the least favorite play in the cycle.

The sixth play, dealing with Ctésifon's successful revolt from King Boďomor in 3130, is not so well liked; but in Crefuselta Verduria saves Ctésifon from tyranny. In fact it was written soon after Queen Andrea's visited Ctésifon in 3298, generating a wave of pro-Verdurian feeling. Andrea is responsible also for the most glaring anachronism in the play: Caleon is represented as an Eleďe. This allows Šaymeon, a pagan, to air his views on reconciling Eleď and Enäron.

Lords Mélicom and Ticeon, who appear in this scene, were real Caďinorian nobles, and Mélicom was indeed noted for opposing war with Verduria. In 2947 (or Act IV) he was executed for treason. Ticeon is gravely wounded in the final battle, but survives long enough to witness Ertala's suicide and report it to Caleon as he enters the city.

Šaymeon: Crefuselta im Ctesifonán

MÉLICOM. Sanno esë?

ERTALA.     Ar, žiek?

M.         Sfahec eleutece,
esli tü epai,   e hep dëni
dy vižie ci-Caleon;   ažana e faďne.
Řo e medrë, řo e raf,   baraďum šatametec
ab retatán rëcen.

E.     Ditava Ertala
Dy fas. Ke irteke   elutëce vižienu.
Ašeu dy e dalu,   e eššane satre?
Ai huepe ilun iy snugá?   Suy uestu mižele
Dy so orayec efari   fifače.

M.     Hoyan--

E. Aklogei?

M.       Dy ai nikto   řo e nižny muďe virny.
Ac nikagdá im satren,   ya elordalun caďinán,
Řo e sram ni mallonse   lelen čereon.
Sen mifai konsir,   pro ažfäsir so bal
Tu tene soa yesta   pro řo isu zonin.

E. Mélicom, samlelesë,   fasílece ubliei!
Lengen seclorin   Coriî tam nažnu,
er gintram Ervëei   velnu altî.
Ënomai řo šrifce   sul šorum dan.
Eludëno eu niš;   dálua caë ya valitne.
Kozuir tali vraki   e mevië řezuë,
šantäm apros ciuin.   Mizeceo, brak kë
imřisne soa scura?

M.     So řavy Bura fue.

E. E orest. Er lelei   meď lië im sen.
Řo tene Caďinas   so tor zië Boďneaii?
E lačeo elordalui   vulea verdúrya
snucan er suvan?   Ci-malsfaom, ci-bižno,
Vižiene, inkašire!   Ni cišitî ni köřî
ci-Caleon řo tróume   falata Ertalei,
druk esë dubec.   Dobre e so krof
Caďinasei, Burei,   sumerulî soî carďî.
Ab aďin proetao,   mažtana prozmai
vencec, er teřetu   u řaim Mišicame!
Esë esme Arcaln.

TICEON.     Ave, sanno esë!

E. Ticeon! Kiom čeneo?

T.       Amenai voim
Ket crivne hotu tuë.

E.         Ivreceo.

T.     Suvai.
<Ertala Burei,   ke tene so gintram
Elorë Caďine,   baraďece emayao
Caleon Avtorei.   So lon tuë zet plere
Tam řaner sam audec   pro hep dënin.
Soa sënza načalei   et apelue-- nažei
otál este dy so tuë.   Veaďa er cunësát
er pá esë primetai   esli tenec tu vule.
Iyotra fäsu.   Ci-faš řo dobläde;
belorî esanam.   Et lelene ci-vëčerán;
zaftra onžanmam   Ctésifonei nanán.>

E. Večore!

M.       Esce elnora?

T.       Čašet lië, ke řo e
šohei ni sannei,   ac so oř daluë.

E. Nun mü imagrenro?   Ke et gromne vrakát
Vrakát esë delaže.   Mallonei řo feriai
Suye sazulëi puyëi.   Načalei naž
otál este dy so esë!   Ei ošte, ei rožy
ozë sfahen Ertalan.   Řo e sul Ctésifon,
i šeírî er sätî,   i Svetla mädörna,
er cimî tibecî,   er baktî goratî,
ředao dy huepe   aldeula surselnë!    

M. Niš řo epe žanen   is eton až čeltán.

T. Inkašeu verdurim?

M.     Ukešai; řo vulu
ilet curec com vrakán.   Raconti er pomaen
croce dalu taë;   ilun duisu ublian
dy Ertala řo e Ervëa.   Kio vale belgo
cel ci-scurin?   Otál caďin dy tae Arin.

T.       Mélicom!   Řo e mudray, druk esë,
Ertala malmizec   im domán Ertalei.

M. Ai orest.

T.     <Řofortece.>       Er prade.   So pá tellenam,
er soî aďi hežanu   so hum elordalui!


Twilight in Ctésifon

I have translated the scene into English blank verse. Alliterative verse à la Beowulf would better represent the actual Verdurian meter, but blank verse is a better cultural equivalent, since alliterating sulirulî is the ordinary form for writing Verdurian dramas.

The translation attempts to reproduce the fairly solemn tone of Caďinorian drama, but it exaggerates the archaism of the original text, which after all is less than two centuries old. (But the archaism may also substitute for the feeling of a different dialect, which I have not otherwise attempted to suggest.)

MÉLICOM. My lord?

ERTALA.             Yes, knave?

M.         If I may speak in frankness--
'Tis seven days hath waited this Caleon.
We try his patience. Nobility and justice
Forbid you so to treat a man who comes
In peace.

E.   It pleases me to see him wait.
To have a rebel wait is only just.
You think he is a king and sovereign?
Am I his peer, his servant? Even fools
Know vassals must their lords attend.

M.     Although...

E. Ye doubt?

M.   No subject have ye loyaller
Than I. Yet never can a sovereign lord
Be shamed, not even he who rules Caďinas,
By showing prudence. If ye will permit:
Ye have not worn your sash for years enough
To eschew all tact.

E.     Unfaithful Mélicom!
Forgettest thou a century's evil rule
By those usurpers of Ervëa's throne,
Curiyans, who the Sun herself made dark?
Where are they now? Their kingdom is no more.
Eternal was the deed that made them flee,
The stuff of legend. Whose then was the arm
That made the Empire new?

M.         Great Bura's 'twas.

E. 'Tis so. And here in me thou seest his son.
Caďinas hath its share in Boďneay's glory.
Or must Verdurian whim the Emperor love
And serve? This upstart, this barbarian, this
Caleon: let him wait and let him fear!
The army of Ertala, doubting friend,
'Tis not so weak nor craven as thou thinkest.
The blood of Bura and Caďinas runneth true,
Nor are its swords untrained. By all the gods,
I'll walk the streets of that far northern city
A conqueror. By Misicama will I stand,
And own the halls of Arcaln.

TICEON.     Hail, my lord!

E. What hast?

T.     Caleon sends by me this message.

E. Speak.

T.       My lord. "Ertiala, seed of Bura,
Whose sash the Caďinorian Empire wove--
Caleon son of Avtor bids you greetings.
Hath pleased your honor close unto a week
To keep your guests yet not receive. No more
Can I my noble duty fail; recall
I have a city great as yours to rule.
My peace and love and trust are yours if you
Are willing to receive them. Else I go.
This anger ill becomes you; friendship rather show.
See me tonight; the morrow sees me ride
North from Ctésifon."

E.         The brute!

M.       'Tis all?

T. His seal. It is no seal of duke nor prince,
But kingly gold.

E.   Wilt still resist the truth?
Who threatens me with enmity my own
Hath won. No upstart princeling treats me thus.
A city great as mine thou rulest, eh?
Thou must be mad or damp with wine to say't.
'Tis Ctésifon whose sweep of hill above
The thundering Svetla, and whose hills and towers
Thou dost think equal to thy river hamlet!     [Exit.]

M. From this will come but evil in the end.

T. Thou fearest this Verdurian?

M.         'Tis not yet fear,
But as a foe I want him not. Our lord
Befills himself with chronicles of old,
Forgetting he is not Ervëa. War
Between our realms is madness. Arin is
As Caďinorian as we.

T.   Speak not
Against Ertala in Ertala's house,
my friend.

M.     I am Ertala's man, and true.

T. Thou art-- [low] and thou are right. So seek us peace,
And may the gods the Emperor's passions check!

Virtual Verduria