Two for All Hallows

Brief Night-time Trip to Transylvania
(A Dream Related)

‘Tis though it were
– I warn you, sir! –
I was some dark immortal Lord,
and held all others in my thrall:
They slept. I gorged.
And now confess.

A red stain on my bed remains

Note: Now I confess to having modelled the final line of this poem on one from Gérard de Nerval’s sonnet El Destdichado (Sylvie – souvenirs du Valois):

‘The star upon my scutcheon long hath fled,
A black sun on my lute doth yet remain’.

These are the third and fourth lines of De Nerval’s sonnet, from Andrew Lang’s fine translation. The first four in particular I’ve always found most powerful and impressive. They, and not the remaining lines, are the ones which have stayed locked up in my mind for long years, anyway. 

Gèrard de Nerval was very much a lost soul. Walter Pater said of him: ‘He has been a sick man all his life. He was always a seeker after something in the world that is there in no satisfying measure, or not at all’. He was, in other words, a true poet. – one who was subject to ‘those wounded thoughts of poets and of madmen, whose doom it was to ever tread as exiles in the landscapes of mankind’. (And in mediaeval Wales – quite where stated I can’t recall – at day’s end, when castle or town gates were closed and guarded, admittance was allowed to only three kinds of person – a skilled craftsman, a poet, or a madman). Another literary critic close to his time described de Nèrval’s pursuit of the same essential qualities in the different women he met. Things de Nèrval wrote in his travel journals certainly testify to this; and undoubtedly, Sylvie, for him, stood as a paragon of unattainable and unrequited love. Balkis (the Queen of Sheba) appears also to be a manifestation of his ‘Sylvie’ in his cleverly-constructed and fascinating story The Tale of the Queen of the Morning and Soliman the Prince of the Genii. I’ve briefly mentioned this story in notes to a previous post in The Ig-Og, but can’t remember where. As I said then, it was intended as a follow-up to the long article which accompanied Song of the Shulamite Maid (‘The Igam-Ogam Mabinogion’May-July, 2021) and was to have dealt with the Ethiopian version of the Solomon and Sheba story in 1 Kings. But here we go with a meandering note again… so let’s not venture any further from the spookiness with which this item is supposed to be concerned.

(from the French of Charles Baudelaire)

Like an angel with a brutal eye
I’ll return to your chamber bye and bye
and, stealthy, glide up to your side
along with shadows of the night,

and, my dark one, give to you
kisses chilly as the moon;
caresses that are serpentine,
coiling round and round a tomb.

And when the blood-red dawn arrives,
you shall find my place is void –
and feel the cold till night is nigh.

Others might place their tender touch
upon your life and youth, my dear.
But I? I wish to reign by fear!

Le Revenant

Comme les anges à l’oeil fauve,
Je reviendrai dans ton alc
Et vers toi glisserai sans bruit
Avec les ombres de la nuit;

Et je te donnerai, ma brune,
Des baisers froids comme la lune
Et des caresses de serpent
tour d’une fosse rampant.

Quand viendra le matin livide,
Tu trouveras ma place vide,
Où jusqu’au soir il fera froid.

Comme d’autres par la tendresse,
Sur la vie et sur ta jeunesse,
Moi, je veux régner par l’effroi!

(From ‘Otherworld’)

Note: It is unfortunate for the lady in the poem to have experienced a visit from this ‘phantom which returns’ – this revenant incubus. Kisses and cuddles in the night are fine; but not in the ‘not nice’ spirit they are given here!

For the female equivalent of this night-time visitant – the succubus – well,a whole gang of them swoop down on some poor men trying to get a decent night’s sleep in The Stone  (‘The Igam Ogam Mabinogion’, Nov. 2019 – Jan. 2020). But forget about those succubi – it’s a quest poem. A noble quest. Concentrate on the quest.

2 thoughts on “Two for All Hallows

    1. Thank you, Jacydo. Vampires and incubi are not in the true spirit of Hallowe’en, I know, but all that I could think of in a hurry. I’ve got a more suitable one for next time, though – just didn’t think of it in time.

      Liked by 1 person

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