Category Archives: Shancinar

Magic Swords

Long ago, I fancied myself something of a poet of the fantastic in the mode of Clark Ashton Smith, and I wrote a few fantasy poems.  There was no place to publish them back then, or if there was, I didn’t know about it, so I wrote them and tucked them away with other manuscripts.  Going through boxes tonight, I found these two.  The first ties into my lifelong interest in King Arthur–I identify with Gawain in that cycle, but have always had a great interest in Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, Kay, Balin, Tristram and other knights in the saga.  The second ties into the earliest beginning of Tunnels and Trolls, and my fascination with the word: Shancinar, which came to be associated with elvish homelands in Trollworld.  I had some fancy formatting for when I wrote out the Arthurian poem, since I believed that the form of the poem was almost as important as the words, but WordPress won’t let me easily duplicate that without some html that I don’t know, so all you get is the words.  I wrote these two poems myself, sometime in the early to mid 1970s.

Arthurian Legend as Science Fiction

And it hung there

Half sunken in a block of stone

Awaiting the one starry-eyed urchin from the wild

Who alone

Could liberate it to flourish in the cheer-filled air.

*

And the young king,

With enchanted blade and dauntless hope,

Turned to his task, restoration of a troubled planet,

Forging peace with sword blows . . .

No small thing.

**

And there were strange

Beings, events, legends, mysteries.

Meet them with courage, Arthur.

Fear not the green-haired and the fey

That lead you into danger.

***

Arthur, leader of true

Knights, men, ladies, humanity–

You put down, stamp out the false and alien

Giants, trolls, dragons, witch-dealers of insanity.

And glory grew!

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

I love wordplay.  I especially like exotic poetic forms.  The sestina is pretty exotic and forced.  I tried my hand at creating some a couple of times.  I thought fantasy would go well with the sestina.

The Song of Shancinar (a sestina)

The sword called Shancinar

Was brought to the tower,

Black spire of the white moon,

From sea-bottom bed far,

To save elfin power,

Or so goes the old tune.

*

The war harps played their tune,

War-song of Shancinar,

While trolls in their power

Attacked the old tower,

And beast-things from all far

Places howled at the moon.

**

Then the ears of the moon

Heard that high and strange tune

That the Elves sang so far,

War-song of Shancinar,

Defending the tower

With sorcerous power.

***

Well seen was its power

By the sons of the moon.

Beneath the black tower

Rang the terrible tune

Of sea-sword Shancinar

That had come from afar.

****

The earth spirits ran far

To flee the sword’s power.

They all feared Shancinar!

Storm clouds hid the sad moon,

The wind played a death tune

Around the black tower.

*****

The trolls fled the tower

And scattered to caves far

Away from the death tune.

Broken was Troll power,

Strong sons of earth and moon

Could not face Shancinar.

******

Envoi

The grim tune of Shancinar

Neath white moon had power

To slay far from tower.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Well, it’s doggerel, but it preshadowed my idea that Shancinar was connected to the Elves in some way.  I had fun writing it back when I was a young and foolish poet as opposed to now when I’m an old and foolish poet, and perhaps if you read it aloud and revel in the absurdity and repetitions of the rhymes, you’ll get a smile out of it too.

********************

If you ever wrote fantastic doggerel, go ahead and leave a comment. In rhyme, please.

–Ken St. Andre

Ssssss

[The following story poem was something I worked quite hard on, and I thought it was actually good enough, different enough, to submit professionally.  It was a gimmick.  It is meant to  be read, almost sung out loud.  Not too fast.  There is a refrain–almost a spell of the words Sim Sham Shancinar!  These words are an invocation–of what I’m not sure.  The original typography has each line dropping down a line to form a kind of staircase or lightning bolt effect of words across the paper, but I can’t easily do that here on WordPress.  If anyone would like to have the original manuscript, let me know.  Better yet, if anyone would like to actually publish it in any kind of zine or book, be sure to let me know.]

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Stars shine silently.

(Sim)

Simple citizens snore.

(Sham)

Spears seek; shadows shelter Sar.

(Shancinar!)

Serpent satrap’s city,

(Sim)

Slimy sable citadel.

(Sham)

Sorcery simmers

(Shancinar!)

Shadow-shielded, Sar sneaks, stalking supreme sorcerer Sargon Silverfang.

Sullen, solemn, sable, silk-swathed snake-lord  sits, shrined.

(Sim)

Succubi sing sad siren songs.

(Sham)

“Silence!” shouts Sargon. “Seek soothing slumber!”

(Shancinar!)

Singers scatter.

Sargon sits solitary.

Standing sentry slumps.

(Sim)

Sanguined sword shows.

(Sham)

Sar slithers shrinewards.

(Shancinar!)

Suddenly, seven soldiers see Sar.

Shouts!

Sorcerous Sargon senses something sinister.

Spear shrieks, sword sings!

(Sim)

Sar slashes sidewise, sundering shoulder.

(Sham)

Slain soul screams skywards.

(Shancinar!)

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Sickening slaughter.

Serpent-swift, Sar slays Sargon’s soldiery.

Shields shatter!

Sar slips.

Seventh soldier’s scimitar strikes Sar’s scale-armor, slashing Sar slightly.

Sar’s stilletto stabs.

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Sar sights Sargon.

(Sim)

Son sees sire.

(Sham)

Shocked sorcerer stares stupidly.

(Shancinar!)

Sinful Sar smiles serenely.

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Scintillating serpent sword slashes!

(Sim Sham!)

Sar shouts secret sorcerous syllables!

“Shancinar!  Sim Sham Shancinar!  Simcinar Shamcinar Shancinar!”

Sargon Silverfang, supernal, superior, supreme, sinister, sorcerous, serpitic satrap spews sour saliva.   Shrivels.

Soulless,

Shambling serpent-sire stumbles strickenly.

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Salutations, Sar, snake-skinned sorcerer slayer!

–St. Andre

__________________________________________________________________________________

It occurs to me that you might want to know what happened to this story.  I submitted it to the The Magazine of Fantasy and Science in 1974.  The postmark on the letter that brought it back i Nov. 28, 1974–that’s how I can date something I did so long ago.  The envelope included 2 copies of my manuscript and the following note on a small piece of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction stationary–the standard rejection note.  It says:

Thank you for showing us the enclosed manuscript.  We regret that it does not fit the present needs of the magazine.

Your submission has been read by one of our editors.  Unfortunately, the large number of manuscripts received does not permit us time for personal comment.

Sincerely,

The Editor

(all the above was typed.  What follows is written in cursive in a small, neat hand in blue ink)

Hank Davis

asst. editor

Sorry this is so late–it was mislaid when my apt. was burglarized in Sept. (OVER)

I do apologize for this–it’s a shameful way to treat a long time F & S F reader!

The story poem must be returned to you, unfortunately. It’s an interesting study in alliteration, but the constant “s” reiteration grows monotonous, even when not read aloud.  And the story line is old-hat sword and sorcery; nothing new, I’m afraid.

But thanks for thinking of us.

Best,

Hank Davis

———————————————————–

Imagine him at half this age when he rejected my story.

F & SF held my story so long that I actually thought it had a chance of being accepted.  The very things that Hank points out as weaknesses were what I thought were my strengths.  I had retold a classic swords and sorcery tale where every word begins with an “s” sound.  The rejection crushed me.  I never submitted anything to F & SF or any of the other SF magazines again.   The story went back into its envelope along with the rejection note, and there it has remained all these years.

However, the idea of Sar of the Serpents, and the name Shancinar stayed with me.  Shancinar became a forest name and the name of the capital city of the Elves on Trollworld.  Many years later, Sar became the Patron God of rogues and thieves, and he is still referred to as Sar of the Serpents.  It’s just a tiny note in the Chronology of Trollworld that I published a few years ago, but as you can see the idea endured, even if the saga sank like a stone.

If  you’ve ever been struck by a serpent, sacrificed to a sorcerer, or sung a song of sixpence, please leave a comment.

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