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Help: Who was The Wren?

DigiTrad:
BILLY BARLOW
CRICKETTY WEE
CUTTY WREN
CUTTY WREN (2)
PLEASE TO SEE THE KING


Related threads:
Folklore: Happy St. Stephen's Day! Get the Book! (2)
need info about 'Wrenning' (40)
(origins) Origins: Just what is a Cutty Wren? (40)
Lyr Add: version of the Wran Song (6)
(DTStudy) DTStudy: Cutty Wren (41)
(origins) Origins: Hunting the Wren (17)
Hunting the Wren (8)
Wren Hunting - Scotland et al. (7)
Lyr Add: an old Cutty Wren (2)
boar's head (3)


W y s i w y G ! 07 Feb 00 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 07 Feb 00 - 09:27 AM
Áine 07 Feb 00 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,Bill (Scotland) 07 Feb 00 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 07 Feb 00 - 12:38 PM
Mbo 07 Feb 00 - 12:48 PM
Liz the Squeak 07 Feb 00 - 01:41 PM
W y s i w y G ! 07 Feb 00 - 03:21 PM
W y s i w y G ! 07 Feb 00 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Frank Of Toledo 07 Feb 00 - 03:54 PM
W y s i w y G ! 07 Feb 00 - 04:21 PM
W y s i w y G ! 07 Feb 00 - 04:22 PM
MMario 07 Feb 00 - 04:32 PM
W y s i w y G ! 07 Feb 00 - 06:48 PM
Lucius 07 Feb 00 - 08:49 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 07 Feb 00 - 09:12 PM
Sorcha 07 Feb 00 - 10:09 PM
W y s i w y G ! 07 Feb 00 - 11:53 PM
Malcolm Douglas 08 Feb 00 - 12:46 AM
Liz the Squeak 08 Feb 00 - 01:26 PM
W y s i w y G ! 30 Aug 00 - 05:06 PM
W y s i w y G ! 30 Aug 00 - 05:11 PM
IvanB 30 Aug 00 - 07:11 PM
death by whisky 30 Aug 00 - 08:34 PM
John in Brisbane 31 Aug 00 - 08:14 PM
W y s i w y G ! 25 Jul 01 - 08:51 AM
MMario 25 Jul 01 - 09:23 AM
W y s i w y G ! 25 Jul 01 - 09:35 AM
W y s i w y G ! 25 Jul 01 - 09:44 AM
MMario 25 Jul 01 - 09:45 AM
W y s i w y G ! 25 Jul 01 - 09:46 AM
W y s i w y G ! 25 Jul 01 - 09:48 AM
Jimmy C 25 Jul 01 - 10:37 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jul 01 - 11:00 AM
W y s i w y G ! 25 Jul 01 - 11:59 AM
Art Thieme 26 Jul 01 - 09:14 PM
Malcolm Douglas 27 Jul 01 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Mike 29 Jul 01 - 08:13 PM
rea 30 Jul 01 - 02:37 PM
Susan A-R 30 Jul 01 - 10:08 PM
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Subject: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 08:29 AM

On a Cindy Mangsen album, there is a song called The Wren that bears no resemblance to the wren posted in DT. It's very haunting and mysterious, with the lyrics giving few clues to the meaning of the song.

I've read the thread that is about Wrenning (and recommend it to new mudcatters to practice searching). This may be a different question.

In this song, the wren sounds more like a heroic character who, if he can be found, will save his people who sound like they're in desperate straits. Does anyone knowa song where the wren is maybe a king or would-be king hiding in the woods awaiting his restoration to the throne, or some other Wren story not immediately apparent to US-ers?

Or is there a rewared to the wrenner that would justify risking death by freezing? Did adults go wrenning or was this just for young ones?

Lyrics anyone?


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 09:27 AM

I think that in Ireland wrenning was practised mainly by boys. It was partly a way of getting money (hence the decline of the custom in direct proportion to the increase in prosperity) but also a way of impressing the lasses.

Variants of this custom are known in England. In one place, instead of "the wren, the wren, the king of the birds", the merrymakers would process with rams' horns, reciting "the ram, the ram, the king of the Jews". I don't know what distribution of ages was among those who practised this custom.

The wren is one of the more common birds that winters in northern Europe, so it isn't surprising to find numerous literary and musical references to her. (Her American cousins are just as spunky and fine.) Even if the Cindy Mangsen song is new, which it may be, it sounds from your description like a combination that incorporates some traditional components.

T.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Áine
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 09:32 AM

Dear Praise,

Do you think you could supply the lyrics to this thread so that we could see what you're talking about? That would be very helpful in answering your question.

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: GUEST,Bill (Scotland)
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 12:38 PM

Bonnie Prince Charlie was reffered to as the wren after the Jacobite uprising. His supporters used the code rather than using his name and risking arrest.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 12:38 PM

Are youi thinking of "The Cutty Wren"? It certainly qualifies as mmysterious! HERE's version in the DT.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Mbo
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 12:48 PM

Bonnie Prince Charlie was also known as "The Blackbird." The tune that we all know and love actually has old Jacobite words, with these references to him as a blackbird. He seemed to collect some very avian knicknames didn't he?

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 01:41 PM

Sounds like the Fisher King myth to me, ties in with Arthur, Bran the Blessed and a few others I haven't time to go through....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 03:21 PM

This is WONDERFUL. So far it sounds like we're getting somewhere. I think there's definitely a deposed king in this thing or one of his main guerilla supporters...

I can't remember the words to the Mangsen version, the tape and the tape box are lost and it's just in my head! It was out about 5-7 years ago. Author unknown to me.

Is Anne Hills a catter? I bet she would know.

I THINK The first verse starts,

What could ever drive a man To venture out in all this cold.... [or is it snow?] What could ever be the dream upon his mind, Or the voices he heard singing on the wind?

The chorus starts, Singing down, down, bless this child..

or was it soul...

Don't you hate it when this happens? It's right on the tip of yesterday's mind, and here I am living for today. I am in the middle of an emergency fundraising drive for the Red Cross I work for and it's hard to be a media slut and a pure folkie at the same time. I visit the Cafe for a cuppa in between issuing press releases and apparently haven't yet had enough of either!

Thanks for trying to help!


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 03:25 PM

Is the Cutty Wren sung like Billy Barlow????


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: GUEST,Frank Of Toledo
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 03:54 PM

That version sung by Cindy Mangsen was written by Jack Hardy 1984, recorded on his CD "The Cauldron", done by Cindy on her CD songlines. If you'd like all the lyrics, let me know. As for interpretation, that"s open for each person. Jack is one of our hidden treasures in contemporary writing. Let me know is you'd like the lyrics, and I'll be glad to oblige.......


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 04:21 PM

YES! Please lyrics, and do you know how to reach Jack Hardy?

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 04:22 PM

PS-- Chords by any chance? If not I can figger em out and put em out next


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: MMario
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 04:32 PM

Lyrics for that whole album can be found here

url = http://www.wing.net/jhardy/jhcauldron.html


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 06:48 PM

Ahhhhh..... relief. Thanks all, and Mmario....


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Lucius
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 08:49 PM

None of these versions seem to explain why the wren would be hunted down, rather than exaulted. I recall a vague story from my youth that had to do with the capture (and eventual martyrdom) of St. Stephen. All of the creatures of the forest were sworn to secrecy, and it was the wren that broke tryst and betrayed St. Stephen. I'm sure that I'm not remembering this clearly, but perhaps someone knows a similar story?

Lucius


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 09:12 PM

Lucius, it might be a "ritual reversal". In parts of Europe it has long been considered unlucky or cowardly to kill the wren. The wren-hunt would then reflect a midwinter suspension of norms.

More likely, it is simply a case of ritual opportunism. The wren was hunted because it was one of the few birds easily available in winter. (Most others had migrated). In some places in the 19th century the wren was captured, not killed. Taking the wren alive is harder than killing it, and therefore impresses the lasses all the more.

T.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Sorcha
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 10:09 PM

From: "Pagan Celtic Britain", by Ann Ross, Chapter VI, page 260 (in my edition):
"Because it is a rare account of the wren as an ominous bird also, the following is given in full translation from the Irish:
".........if it call from behind you importuning of your wife by another man in despite of you. If it be on the ground behind you, your wife will be taken from you by force. If the wren call from the east, poets are coming towards you, or tidings from them. If it call behind you from the south, you will see the heads of good clergy or hear death tidings of noble ex lay men. If it call from the south robbers and evilkinsmen are coming. If it call from the north west, a noble hero of good lineage and noble hospitallars and goodwomen are coming.
If it call from the north, bad people are coming whether warriors or clerics or bad women and wiched youths are on way"........
How much more do you want? The idea is that the wren was a bird of prophecy, much like the raven, and nobody much wanted to hear bad tidings, so they hunted the wrens.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 11:53 PM

I'd love to know what y'all think the posted lyrics mean (in the link from Mmario above). I find much to enrich the song among all of your comments. Sometimes it is good to leave a mystery a mystery, and I don't find that anyone's thoughts have taken away the mystery of this song. Keep contributing if it interests you, and I wish you could hear the melody! I have it in my head but no music software to give the melody in return for all of the gracious contributions given...


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 12:46 AM

Just by way of an aside:

The birds had a contest to decide who was to be their king; The bird who flew highest would be the winner.  The eagle expected to get the crown, but, unknown to them all, the wren stood on the eagle's head while he soared, and so attained the greatest height, and the kingship.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 01:26 PM

Lucius, wrens lie dormant during winter in a group in the bushes, not really hibernating, but when Stephen hid from his accusers just before he was stoned, he hid in a bush. The wrens were disturbed and rose up shouting an alarm, whereupon Stephen was caught and killed. Never considered a lucky bird since then, although there may have been some Mithraic input to the tradition, as a) wrens aren't all that common in Palestine, and b) Mithras was the religion that was there first.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 05:06 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 05:11 PM

See also:

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=24710&messages=24

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: IvanB
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 07:11 PM

Praise, the clicky to the lyrics above is no longer operational and when I went to the new site, the lyrics are no longer there (he has a new album out and he's posted the lyrics and sound clips from that). So, if you want to exegete the song (yes, I know exegete's a noun, but us old gov't workers are experts at converting nouns to verbs), you'll have to post the lyrics. Hope you got them earlier and hope you'll post them, cause it sounds like a song I'd like to learn. And, if you have a way to record yourself singing a verse of the song on your computer and would send me the sound file, I'd be glad to transcribe it for the DT. If this is a possibility, my email is: Ivan Bradley's e-mail


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: death by whisky
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 08:34 PM

The tradition of hunting the wren is still practiced on St.Stephens day.A group of musicians,poets and storytellers would roam from house to house entertaining the residents.

In LISTOWEL,CO KERRY,about seven miles from here,a stage is erected in the town square,and groups of wren boys would take turns in competition.

Its more of a laugh than a serious competition.

Music,poetry,storytelling and fancy dress.It's great craic


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 31 Aug 00 - 08:14 PM

Truly entertaining thread - thanks to all. Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 08:51 AM

Huh, it seems we never finished this one. Anyone have the lyrics the easy way?

Hi Ivan! Record it for you? Someday... now that I can! *G*

~S~

(AKA Praise in earlier messages)


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: MMario
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 09:23 AM

The Wren

what could ever drive a man
to venture out in all this cold?
what could ever be the dream upon his mind
or the voice he heard come singing through the snow?

chorus:
singing down down, bless this soul
singing down down, this i know
singing down down down down, waming must be sent
and by foot it must be brought and so we went
for the wren

when all the people are quite warm
except the few who gather fuel
they dread the wind when it gathers in the north
that causes all the gods to be so cruel
singing down down bless this soul
singing down down this i know
singing down down down down to the forest end
and perhaps it might be there we apprehend
the wren

these of caution to be seen
abroad at night about the queen
when all the world knows that deep down inside
the burden of paradise is mean
singing down down bless this soul
singing down down this i know
singing down down down down games of pretend
whether howling at the moon or magdalen
or the wren

a flock of birds must crown a king
against the wind and under wing
and never notice when the one in front he falls
and another takes his place to gather all
singing down down bless this soul
singing down down this i know
singing down down down down hear the voices blend
though those who stand behind will not defend
the wren



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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 09:35 AM

Thanks, how did you have that?

I'll format it for harvesting and re-post it.

~S~


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE WREN (Jack Hardy)
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 09:44 AM

THE WREN
Jack Hardy

What could ever drive a man
To venture out in all this cold?
What could ever be the dream upon his mind
Or the voice he heard come singing through the snow?
Singing down down, bless this soul
Singing down down, this I know
Singing down down down down, waming must be sent
And by foot it must be brought and so we went
For the wren

When all the people are quite warm
Except the few who gather fuel
They dread the wind when it gathers in the north
That causes all the gods to be so cruel
Singing down down bless this soul
Singing down down this I know
Singing down down down down to the forest end
And perhaps it might be there we apprehend
The wren

These of caution to be seen
Abroad at night about the queen
When all the world knows that deep down inside
The burden of paradise is mean
Singing down down bless this soul
Singing down down this I know
Singing down down down down games of pretend
Whether howling at the moon or Magdalen
Or the wren

A flock of birds must crown a king
Against the wind and under wing
And never notice when the one in front he falls
And another takes his place to gather all
Singing down down bless this soul
Singing down down this I know
Singing down down down down hear the voices blend
Though those who stand behind will not defend
The wren


SOURCE:
Written by Jack Hardy 1984, recorded on his CD "The Cauldron." Also sung by Cindy Mangsen on her CD
songlines. (per Frank of Toledo)

LP/SH


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: MMario
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 09:45 AM

just went to the link posted in my message of feb 7 double-ought and followed the bouncing links...


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 09:46 AM

Ypto-- in source, [songlines] s/be ["Songlines"].


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 09:48 AM

I thought that was the dead link... must be I need that second cup of coffee. Thanks tho!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Jimmy C
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 10:37 AM

In many countries superstitions of good and evil are attached to certain birds. The raven has a reputation for bringing evil and bad luck. Wild geese are a sign of a severe winter, the robin is held sacred for no one would kill a bird that had the mark of the blood of Christ on it's breast etc, while the wren is hunted and killed with intense hate and cruelty on St. Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) in Ireland.
The Irish hate the wren for one one occasion when Irish troops were approaching to attack a portion of Cromwell's army. some wrens came and perched on the Irish drums and their tapping on the skins aroused the English who counterattacked and kiled all the Irish troops. So ever since the wren is hunted in Ireland. Children are taught to run it through with thorns and kill it any way possible. A dead wren is also tied to a pole and carried froom house to house by boys, who demand money. If no money was given, the wren is then buried outside the door of the house, which was considered a great insult to the family, and a degradation.
(From Irish Cures, Mystic Charms & Superstitions) by Lady Wilde.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 11:00 AM

Maybe Jack Hardy could explain it - though not necessarily. You can't always explain things you've written.

Anyway, as I read it - and that's without hearing it, which can change everything - the image seems clearly to be about people going out wrenning, in the winter, with a view to catching and killing the wren.

But there's the idea with it of seeing the wren as a sacrificial victim, carrying the burden of the rest of the birds/ the people, to appease the anger of the gods/of the winter. (They dread the wind when it gathers in the north That causes all the gods to be so cruel)

(For a song of mine that this reminded me of -Another Spring.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: W y s i w y G !
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 11:59 AM

I have cobbled up the melody (from memory), in Noteworthy. Maybe Ivan will help me finish fixing it up in proper measures and we will send it in to Mmaster Mmario for his Mmissing Mmelodies.

The words are haunting enough, but oh that melody!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 09:14 PM

None other than the Clancy Brothers did a song about the wren and going door to door begging for a treat. Wa sit a dead wren I remembewr??? They're getting money to bury the bird as I seem to remember. Anybody recall this song?

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 Jul 01 - 09:44 AM

It's in the DT, with a number of others:  THE WREN SONG (2);  the midi is missing, though it's present in the download version.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: GUEST,Mike
Date: 29 Jul 01 - 08:13 PM

The Cutty Wren.......Came from the aftermath of the Peasant Revolt In England,After the Event it was forbidden to talk about it.The Cutty Wren was the way to celebrate it in secret.Described as one of the finest rebel songs. Used by an English Playwright as the background Song in the Play......CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING ( I Think Arnold Wesker)


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: rea
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 02:37 PM

I was always under the impressoion that The Cutty Wren (ans The King, as sung by Steeleye Span) was about a traditional chirstmas time celebration, where the men or boys of the village went out and caught a wren, bringing it back to the village dressed in ribbons; it may be connected to St Stephen's Day, but I believe that the origins of the ritual are older than that.

I believe it was symbolic of finding and killing the King of Winter, allowing for the sun's return. The tradition was simply incorperated in christian practises (like so many others)

Still ties in with the song you're talking about, though.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who was The Wren?
From: Susan A-R
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 10:08 PM

Seems to me that the Woodchucks know Jack Hardy. I believe he was involved in the great Porta Potty Heist at Old Songs over a year ago, but that could be a spurious myth. He hass done some Arthurian stuff before, and tends to write wonderfully mysterious things. I particularly like the Tinker's Coin.


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