Two Songs about Vampires

Two Songs about Vampires

Having just seen Tomas Alfredson’s subtle, macabre and beautiful film Let the Right One In, my fascination for vampire lore has been renewed. Below are two song lyrics I wrote a few years ago. The first is based on one of the few English vampire legends with any pedigree; the second is an experiment in over-the-top, angst-ridden doom, the source material being, I fear, my own feverish imagination, combined with repeated re-reading of Sheridan le Fanu’s vastly underrated short story, ‘Carmilla’.

CROGLIN GRANGE

Two brothers and a sister rented Croglin Grange,
A house with little character, not untoward nor strange,
And soon the sister set about, the decor to arrange
In Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

The sister’s bedroom window had a splendid view
Overlooking field and hedgerow, and the churchyard too,
And nobody expected too much bother or ado
In Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

The night was somewhat sultry; no wind was in the air.
The sister sat a-knitting upon her bedroom chair,
When in through the window she saw two black eyes stare
Into Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

It scratched upon the window, it picked apart the lead,
And in through the casement it thrust its shrivelled head,
And she began to doubt what the advertisements had said
About Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

It grabbed her by her slender, pale and gentle wrist;
It touched her pretty chin with its yellow, bony fist,
And her tender throat was by blackened lips a-kissed
In Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

She let out a scream before she swayed and swooned,
And her two stalwart brothers burst into the room,
She lay beneath the curtains, swaying in the gloom
In Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

All that they could find was two welts upon her throat,
While outside the window the fiend did gasp and gloat,
The blood in there is plentiful, it made a mental note
About Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

Then one of the brothers looked down below,
And saw the creature’s teeth in a pearly, shining row;
He took a careful aim and he shot it with his bow
From Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

It gave a fearful cry as they rushed into the night;
They followed its footsteps by flickering lantern light
Until they came upon a tomb, a dark and dreary sight
Nearby Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

They hauled away the tombstone, and horribly they cried,
For half-eaten human bodies were strewn about inside,
It was sitting in its casket, its grin was red and wide,
Laughing, Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

One brother threw the lantern, it burst and spattered fire,
The creature waved its arms with wrath and rage and ire,
And as it was consumed it pronounced its curses dire
Upon Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

There’s a lovely house to let, the furnishings are nice,
It comes with guarantees against silverfish or mice,
And the landlords aren’t disposed to haggle o’er the price
Of Croglin Grange, Croglin Grange,
There’s nothing strange about Croglin Grange.

Source material: English folk-tale. Augustus Hare’s more complex version, which, for the sister at least, has a happier ending, may be read in Kevin Crossley-Holland (Ed.) Folk Tales of the British Isles, London, 1985, pp. 203-207. There are comparatively few English vampire tales, and the notion that vampires are killed by fire, rather than by means of a stake through the heart, appears to be unique to this one.

THE VAMPIRE-LOVER

She came upon the ruined hall; it was a windy night,
And at the broken window pane there glowed a single light.
She knocked upon the oaken door, “Is anyone inside?
For it is cold and I am lost,” the fearful maiden cried.

Then he drew back the rusty bolt; he ushered her within,
His hand was pale by candlelight, his face was gaunt and thin,
And though her hair was lank and wet; her gown soaked by the rain,
He felt love burn within his breast; his heart was seared with pain.

Chorus:
Come, my love, and stay with me,
We shall be wed eternally,
Come my love, my blue lips kiss,
We shall forever live in bliss.
What is life, that you should cling,
And be afraid of death’s cold sting?
What’s in a death, my trothèd wife,
That makes you seem so fond of life?

He led her up the creaking stairs and showed her to her room:
A wardrobe and four-poster bed, shrouded in the gloom.
He put a candle on the mantel, pulled the shutters to,
And turned his dark dilated eyes and gazed at her anew.

She drew her shoes off one by one; stood in her stockinged feet;
Outside the house the wild wind whirled, buffeting the sleet.
He touched her gently on the wrist, his hand was deathly cold,
And on her finger slipped a ring of purest yellow gold.

Chorus

“Why hast thou given this to me?” She looked into his eyes;
He buried his head in his hands, mournful were his sighs.
She put her arm about his neck, his cheek brushed by her hair,
“I never saw a mortal maid more beauteous and fair.”

He kissed her gently on the throat, she drew him to the bed,
And upon her silk-clad breast she bade him rest his head,
And though his hands were cold as stone, succumbed to his caresses,
Her hair draped o’er the counterpane in rain-washed golden tresses.

Chorus

He sunk his teeth into her neck; her life-blood drained away;
His fingers clutched her writhing form, her skin translucent grey.
He whispered, “Oh my bride, my joy, eternally thou art!”
She grabbed a bodkin from her cloak and stabbed him through the heart.

She dragged his body to the crypt; she hurled it down the hole
Her awful moaning filled the night; ‘twould chill your mortal soul,
And through the house she wandered, her fingers turning cold,
And down the well twelve fathoms deep she threw his ring of gold.

Posted by Giles Watson’s poetry and prose on 2009-04-12 12:41:02

Tagged: , Vampire , Poetry , Song , Poem