A Song of Worlds

THE OPENING EPISODE OF DZADEFVE OA CHARLS’M, read by Robert Stikmanz.

The great poem of the Dvarsh people, Dzadefve oa Charls’m, grows steadily. At this writing, longhand first drafts of the twenty-second and twenty-third episodes are complete and wait to be transcribed.

As the poem grows, so does language for talking about it. A dramatic narrative, Dzadefve oa Charls’m (in English, The Song of Worlds) plots as three acts, although that is not its overt structure. The plan of the poem outlines seven chapters, called in Dvarsh gejók’m. Each gejók will consist of seven episodes, or bveshmedz’m. Episodes follow an identical form, a one line legend (zirbva) and four four-line stanzas, (spobvatch’m). The twenty-second and twenty-third bveshmedz’m mentioned above are numbers 1 & 2 of the fourth gejók. In notes the reference is IV, 1-2.

…chops to deliver superb are not in the toolkit. Compromised, on the other hand, is fully achievable.

Second drafts of twenty-one bveshmedz’m are in the can, typed into the official Dvarsh language file by their human minion. With two more ready to transcribe, twenty-six of the intended forty-nine still gestate in a poetical diagram.

I have not written the poem in English, but I have written out everything that likely needs to go into the poem in an English plan broken down line-by-line. Poetry waits in shadow until the poem-knapper chips phrases in Dvarsh from heated English cobbles. Frequently, the Dvarsh reveals that some of the English is superfluous.

Sometimes the emerging poetry requires that the plan change. Decision always elevates such a moment, especially if a change is necessary because the plan in English makes an assumption that has no place in Dvarsh. Realizing that kind of non-equivalence instantly provokes, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” followed closely by a question of other mind, “What would they say and how would they say it?”

After all bveshmedz’m are drafted and transcribed, the next step will be reading aloud to revise. I have done this so far only with the first bveshmedza. Hear the result of that revision in the track at the head of this column. The impact was profound enough to convince me that reading aloud cannot be shorted. Pronouncing the description helps polish not only rhythm and sounds, but also final meaning. That may seem obvious, but putting an episode through the process felt like deep discovery. A problem of getting the first bveshmedza to roll off the tongue was solved by asking the question of other mind, “What would they say and how would they say it?”

As the great narrative of the Dvarsh people, the work’s merit does not rest solely on whether or not Dzadefve oa Charls’m is superb poetry. After all, a genuinely superb poem might not be pliant enough for foundational allegory. Achieving heights would lift it above ideological compromises. That’s fortunate for purposes here, because chops to deliver superb are not in the toolkit. Compromised, on the other hand, is fully achievable.

Like many great narratives of other people, the poem has come down as an anonymous work. Unlike many of those others, however, it has no tradition of a single, forgotten author. Rather, cultural memory holds that stories echoed beside countless hearths accreted. These were collected and refined independently by diverse, uncredited hands. A standard text evolved over gradual centuries. The Dvarsh maintain that the poem was born from the sum of their parts, an expression of the history that unites them.

That said, even though the project does not insist on superb poetry, it does argue for pretty good poetry. There has to be a reason words beat in (fictional) hearts beyond number. Since it’s in Dvarsh and I’m the only one who knows, you can trust or not my assurance that the poeticizing is pretty darned okay. Just as importantly, though, the great narrative must codify Dvarsh identity and lay a basis for their ideology. Evidence is as plain as text on a page that this poem serves its civilization.

The language and voice are early modern Dvarsh, similar to what Shakespeare might represent for modern English in a back yard, shade tree incarnation. Although Dzadefve oa Charls’m looks back on a long bardic tradition, it is clear that it is looking back, and that the past toward which it looks has grown misty enough to become mythological.

The narrative trips along through generations of love, war, courage and magic. I could fake it and only those with eyes for a con would ever know—but that would transgress against the art. Execution of the concept compels the very best anonymous great poem of a hidden people that my talents can produce. That is the ambition. That is the target. That is the reason for doing it.