Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween


In tombs of gold and lapis lazuli
Bodies of holy men and women exude
Miraculous oil, odour of violet.
But under heavy loads of trampled clay
Lie bodies of the vampires full of blood;
Their shrouds are bloody and their lips are wet.
W.B. Yeats

Baobhan Sith, Leannan Sidhe, Dearg-Due, they go by many names in many places these beautiful seductresses of the Aos Sí, the people of the barrows, the bane of travelers at night.  Rumor has it that the only way to tell that these beautiful women were not women was to get a peak under their dress at their cloven feet.  Rumor also has it that they were the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula.

The Baobhan Sith, or white woman of the Scottish highlands was simply a vampire, who drank the blood of her victims and left them dead and empty husks.  Leannan Sidhe however, was a muse, an inspiration to Irish writers and poets that in exchange for her powers drained her partners of their life.  The explanation for why all great Irish writers and poets seem to die young.   

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.

La Belle Dame sans Merci: Arthur Hughes

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
‘I love thee true’.

She took me to her Elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dreamed—Ah! woe betide!—
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.

La Belle Dame sans Merci: Henry Meynell Rheam

And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

John Keats


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