A Harper’s Story: The Legend of Why the Sun Cries

The Legend of Why the Sun Cries . . .  

    It is said by those who heard the tales from the ancients, the old men and women of Wales, who heard the story first from those who had memories of the Druids and even Arthur’s sword. It is said that on those late summer afternoons when the sun is still shining hot and strong and raindrops fall from the blue sky, fall warm on your skin, it is said that if you sit in a quiet place of rocks and trees and if you shut your eyes, you’ll hear a harp’s melody, soft and sad and sweet as a harper using golden strings.

The harper is no less than Thomas the Rhymer, bold and gifted and impulsive, and a man who had a heart as passionate as his music. He had journeyed to Wales, into the mountains of Snowdonia, to perform for a particular noble and to create a song by which the occasion would always be remembered.  The noble’s daughter was a young lady, named Gwen, with porcelain white skin,  eyes blue and wild, and long, auburn hair with golden streaks. In the candlelit room, she would smile and her eyes would shift to gray and to almost green. When the king summoned him to begin playing, she listened when he played and clung to every note, to every word of his verse. Thomas watched her close her eyes and echo-whisper the lines of the poem. He ended the song and began another, his heart swelling in him in a way that only love-struck musicians know. The music shifted from praising the king to extolling Gwen’s beauty. He wove the words he found in the well of his heart and declared his love for her.  He sang stanza after stanza. It seemed he could not stop and sang for the rest of the night.  She seemed to know. When the meal was finished and his songs ended, the young maiden rose, looked at Thomas, then at a stairwell. He nodded, laid down his harp, and followed her.

There in the stairwell they kissed and declared their love. Thomas spoke to her father that night and he gave the couple their blessing in the condition that Thomas would stay with them.  Oh, those were times of such music!  Thomas’ heart swelled with new melodies for his new love.  He envisioned a life with her—she traveling with him as he won the world with his harp and verse.  This would require money, for though Thomas could easily bear the hardships of the road, he would not inflict that lifestyle on his new bride.  Thomas vowed to enter and win a harp competition, some say it was in Cardiff, others say it was in Ireland, and return for her with prize money in hand.  Months went by, but Thomas never returned. Gwen was sick with worry. These were not happy days in Wales. Longshanks’ armies invaded to crush Llewellyn’s rebellion as he had the rebellion of the Scots.  Those nobles who weren’t killed were taken captive and sold into slavery.  Gwen was one of them. He never saw her again.

When Thomas finally returned, he found Gwen’s home burned to the ground, and the land of Wales filled with death, hunger, and lamentation for those slain and missing. He slung his harp on his shoulder and trudged back to Scotland. As you may know, there he was seduced by the faerie queen and vanished from the land for seven years.

Oh, there were many adventures there and it was there he was given “the tongue that could not lie.”  The queen of the fairies took him to Belenus, the sun god of the Celts. The sun god asked Thomas, “Have you ever been in love?”

Thomas said, “Yes. So in love that I was lost. So in love that I felt I would never need another muse. But she was taken from me.”

“Tell me her story in a song, harper.”

Thomas sat on a stone. tilted the harp against his left shoulder, brushed the strings of his clarsach with his left hand, and began. In a minor key, he told the sun-god the story of Gwen, his love for her, the plans they had, his returning to find her gone, and he knew gone forever. He told of how his heart had cracked, and how he had fallen into despair, and become almost mad with grief. When he was finished, the sun god’s palace in the Otherworld was silent. Belenus leaned forward, touched his face with hands and wept, and the sun-god’s tears fell through the Otherworld to the earth. It was a beautiful sunny  afternoon, and this was the first time mortals had ever seen rain fall when the sun was shining. And today, when those warm teardrops touch your cheek like a kiss, and you look up into that bright sky, know that it only means the sun-god has once again remembered the sad story of Gwen and Thomas and he weeps again.  And if you close your eyes and listen closely, you’ll hear the sad notes of the Rhymer’s harp.

And that my friends, is why the sun cries . . .

Rickey Pittman

Bard of the South




Jerry: DeCastro: An Accomplished Writer of Horror

While attending the Texas Haunter’s Convention in Mesquite, Texas (July 16-18,) I was granted an interview with Jerry DeCastro, a featured author of the convention. DeCastro, originally from Joplin, Missouri, now resides in Tulsa, and in our conversation I found him to be quite knowledgeable on the secrets of writing horror and the horror industry and encouraging for me to continue with my own horror writing.

Though he has an impressive reader following, he feels there our age may be experiencing a decline in horror reading, and that the trend is now toward listening to horror books on CD. He introduced me to two of his books, Ghoul Squad and Skinned. These are fascinating novels, full of mystery, twists, and of course graphic violence (as the titles suggest)–a recipe sure to attract horror fans. You can find videos and synopses of his novels on this Facebook page, HERE.  Below are the covers of his novels.

I encourage you to investigate this author and explore his books. You will not be disappointed.

Rickey Pittman

Bard of the South

bardofthe south.com

An American Writer Looks at Émile Zola

Until I picked up this book about the life and writings of Émile Zola, I did not realize how little I knew about French authors. The book is part of the Twayne World of Authors Series and had been discarded from a university library.  My reading of the book was slow and deliberate and I marked phrases I liked, had to look up and research French words,  historical events, and places–some of which I made marginal notes about.

  My research revealed that there are many websites, detailed books, and fine videos concerning Zola. Elliott M. Grant, the author/editor, spent many years researching Zola. The book is not intended to be an exhaustive biography, but it does include enough to help the reader to understand Zola and appreciate his literary work, which includes novels, short stories, poems, journal and newspaper articles, and dramatic works. The book includes chapter notes and references, a selected bibliography, and an index. My feeling is that the book is an easy reference and useful tool for one wanting to explore Zola and his world.

Zola’s oeuvre is enormous and would require years to fully read and write about. His life is a tale of a writer who goes from hard years as a starving artist to fame and wealth. He is known as a prominent early promoter of the literary theory of naturalism. As a writer, he documented meticulously the details he included and visited the locations in his novels. Zola was ambitious, disciplined (he wrote every day for thirty years), methodical in his planning, a compulsive reader, and a writer who believed in observation and experiment. In fact, he once said, “The novelist is part observer, part experimenter.” Zola often charmed an audience with the reading aloud of pages of his writing.

Zola, who could unite the physical and the psychological, could write well about the working class, as well as the educated bourgeois and the ruling classes who obviously resemble the elite of our own Washington elite, the rich, liberal rulers of our country. France too had its own swamp that needed draining, and Zola made many enemies by his descriptions of how he thought the bourgeois were inferior to the working class. He also pictured France, under the rule of Napolean III, as a train rushing to disaster, much like our own nation is under our current leadership.




A Review of The Retribution Conspiracy by Dr. Samuel W. Mitcham

A Review of The Retribution Conspiracy by Dr. Samuel W. Mitcham

    The full title on the novel cover is The Retribution Conspiracy: The Rise of the Confederate Secret Service. Below the cover title, one can read, A Novel Alternative History of the Lincoln Assassination Plot. Though I know a technique of writing historical fiction is to choose a topic, person, or historical incident that will interest people, I thought that this key moment in American history is a well-known topic that the general reading public knows something about. I wondered why he chose this topic. However, when I read this novel by Samuel W. Mitcham, I was truly surprised. I am an avid reader of history, fiction, creative nonfiction, and some historical fiction.  I was hooked after reading the author’s introduction. After I completed a reading of this novel, demanded I write a review, something I’ve never done with a historical novel, though I’ve read and always admired Michener’s novels.

The anchor of the novel’s story is the story of the fictional protagonist, Rance Liebert. It is his story the reader follows through the novel. Mitcham weaves historical facts and situations into his life, weaves his journey from being the son of an Antebellum planter, to a soldier in the Mexican War, to a close friend to Jefferson Davis—the President of the Confederacy—to being a spy for the Confederacy.  His journey is full of surprises as the novel relates his accomplishments and conflicts, his escape to Canada, and his marriage.

Mitcham’s writing is loaded with historical facts (easily documented), and through his excellent research,  he successfully captures the idioms, the customs, and manners of behavior of the Antebellum South. This book is a vocabulary builder.  Mitcham also successfully creates the world of the Confederate spies (and some of the Yankee spies) and the world of the Union and Confederate leaders. Mitcham successfully connects the readers to the inner lives and thinking of the characters. This is no easy task.

Unlike other historical fiction writers, Mitcham’s writing is not overloaded with dialogue. This is a romance novel in some ways, and it is surprising how the relationship between Lance and Sally develops. His writing style reminds me of the fiction of Larry McMurtry, and the nonfiction of Bill O’Reilly. There were many historical surprises for me, including the counterfeiting strategy of both Federal and Confederate spies. As in other good fiction, there are some historical characters who are villains not likable, and some who are worth our admiration.

This novel is so full of surprises that it will cause the readers to look at and perhaps question commonly accepted history from a fresh point of view.  A careful reader will perhaps be shocked by some of the things he or she learns in the novel or in its footnotes. A reading will reveal how easily America’s history could have been much different. This is worth thinking about. For example, the Confederacy’s dealings with the British and French, and how that would have easily shifted the war into victory for the South.

The novel’s opening epigraph is: The past is a foreign country…They do things differently there.—L.P. Hartley. In this novel, the reader will learn the truth of that quote and the author hopes it will spark interest and research in this past age that forever changed America.

Dr. Mitcham is the author of more than forty books, a former helicopter pilot and company commander, and graduate of the U.S  of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College. His book is available on Amazon.






Brittany: Inspiration for a Strong National Identity

       While most Americans currently chafe under the increasing control of the rich, liberal elite political leaders in Washington who promote globalism, create a society of victims totlly dependent on government handouts, and while we are suffering the effects of the Cancel Culture and the WOK mentality that daily thrashes, punishes, and targets any person or business that does not tow the leftist, liberal agenda, I was delighted to discover a strong Nationalistic movement in Brittany. Bretons chafe under the control of the rich Parisian liberals. Bretons consider Brittany their home, their nation, not France. Visitors to Brittany will see the old Celtic flag of Brittany everywhere and in songs and celebrations, one can discover how passionate one’s love for one’s homeland, culture, and history can be.

You might say it is a secession movement. And the facts of history reveal that the more cultural or ethnic populations experience and feel oppression from a corrupt government by taxation, censorship, and harsh laws, the more divided a nation can become and the more likely secession will be considered.

You can hear and feel the nationalistic fervor Bretons have in videos on Youtube–music, full of rich harmony, fierce lyrics, images of and often the Breton bagpipes, the binioù kozh. Here are a couple of examples of Breton’s nationalistic songs. I hope you enjoyed thee post and that you will share my blog’s link,



A Letter from a Louisiana Reconstruction School Board President (1872)

  After the War Between the States, students of Louisiana history enter the dark and sad age of Reconstruction.  In her fine book, Reconstruction in Louisiana After 1868, Ella Lonn, Ph.D., reveals how the actions and corruption of carpetbaggers (opportunist from the North), scalawags (reconstructed Southerners), military and government officials ruined the state’s  economy, elections,  and education.  The purpose of this blog post is to share one example of how often in Reconstruction appointments and funds for education were misappropriated and funneled into the salaries of pathetically unqualified  people in important educational positions.  Lonn says this: “School directors were often unable to write their names. A letter (mailed Jan. 9, 1972) from the president of the school  board of Carroll Parish, as printed in the National Republican, is so ungrammatical and misspelled that it is almost impossible to read it. Here is the actual letter:

Cor J P York I visited new Welsh Peish in the crimes finnen the White People rebelling Jest as much as the dead When you was on the ball field Dod Swan Leven in Bellevue says by god he Wald like sweet the Dam Yankes start a public school in bellvue  are linden Orel any Whare between monroe an Schevepoer he Shat down a Young man I sew Well my names Simon Ford on Widarvne lone Place all so Jhon head and Jhon akfard given in bellvue cauth a young man name Anderson Smith Who Went to see a Young collard lady step him Struck Him 3000 licks with a new caw hide do for God Sake Sen them People petectheon. I promised them I Wold Send You.” (page 81)

This letter from the President of the School Board is only one of many examples of how federal and state government failed education in those Reconstruction days. My fear is that, because of the control and influence of the teacher unions, WOK administrators, the mindless movements to erase Southern history, arbitrary government mandates and executive decisions, Louisiana education could face a second Reconstruction no less painful than the first. I hope you will save and share this blog post.

A New Musical Event for the Bard of the South

For several years, I have worked with the Union Parish Library in Farmerville, Louisiana. In addition to having me present programs at the library and at local schools, Stephanie Herrmann, the director, along with her staff, have been great promoters of my books. Here is a flier of my upcoming event that I am proud to be a part of:

The Isleños of Louisiana: A short review!

The Isleños of Louisiana: On the Water’s Edge by Samantha Perez

     I first learned of the Isleños of Louisiana happened when I did research for my Texas History Songs & Stories presentation I do for public and private schools. Around 1731,  I learned of the Canary Islanders who were sent to Texas. Over 50 settled in San Antonio. Juan Seguin was one of their descendants. The Handbook of Texas says, “A number of the old families of San Antonio trace their descent from the Canary Island colonists. In 1971 a Texas Historical Marker honoring the Canary Islanders and their role in the development of San Antonio was erected on the Main Plaza of San Antonio.”

As I do a “Songs & Stories” of Louisiana presentation in schools, libraries, and festivals, etc., I felt the need to some research on the Isleños of Louisiana. I was delighted to discover Perez’ book about them.  Printed by the History Press, a division of Arcadia, who also owns my previous publishers of Pelican and River Road Press, it is a compact, informative resource for anyone wishing to know more about the mysterious and little known people who came to Louisiana from the Canary Islands and settle in St. Bernard Parish in the 1700s.

The seven chapters of the book take the reader from the journey of the Isleños  from the Canary Islands to the marshes of Southeastern Louisiana where their culture survived and blossomed for centuries.  Perez develops a narrative as to how they overcame the challenges of war, hurricanes, and government incompetence that they faced.  Perez shares the unique heritage, traditions, documentaries, museums, their unique Spanish dialect, religion, history, strength of their community, and culture of these Spanish islanders who made their living from trapping and the sea.

Perez reveals  the resources  one can use to discover the unique foods, cultural dress, customs, festivals, and their love for and connection to the environment. One fascinating discovery is of the décimas, the a cappella folk songs of the Isleños. Isleños fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, WWI and WWII.

If you are interest in Louisiana History, you will love this book.  You can order it HERE: