Archive for July 16th, 2016

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Excerpt from “The Vampire Bride” by Henry Thomas Liddell

Five yards under ground a coffin they found,
Of strange unwonted shape;
And the cold wet clay was red where it lay,
And the coffin-lid did gape!

They lifted the lid, and the shroud they undid,
But what they saw underneath—
The horrible sight that congeal’d them quite—
I almost fear to breathe.

Beneath a shroud, stain’d and spotted with blood,
A female naked lay!
On her clenched hand shone a sapphire stone,
In her corpse there was no decay!

Her eyes did stare with a demon glare,
A girdle bound her waist;
And words unknown on the charmed zone
Mysteriously were traced.

Her veins accurs’d seem’d ready to burst,
She was gorged with infernal food;
And the vampire mouth foam d with crimson froth;
Her very pores oozed blood.

The lab’rers shrunk—and, fainting, sunk
Back from the hideous sight;
And the priests fled the church, and rush’d out at the porch,—
They almost went mad with affright.

But the Virgin Bride in her maiden pride,
In her love and virtue brave,
A crucifix press’d to her noble breast,
And sprung into the grave.

“That which was given in the sight of Heaven,
I bid thee, Fiend, restore;
That ring I claim in His awful name,
Whom the Powers of Hell adore:

“By His holy sign, I bid thee resign,
Demon, thy right for ever;—
Whom God doth join at His sacred shrine,
Presume not thou to sever.”

The Vampire shook at the words she spoke,
In an instant the palm open’d wide;
From its finger she drew the sapphire blue,
As drops from the icicle glide.

When the zone they unlaced from around its waist,
Its bright eyes with fury gleam’d;
When they thrust a dart through its swollen heart,
It convulsively shiver’d and screamed;

And the red blood thereout did gush and did spout,
Till it sprinkled the chancel roof;
So vehement it sprung, that no fountain e’er flung
With like force its waters aloof.

But the carcass foul of the carrion Goule
Grew flaccid, and meagre, and thin—
As a huge bladder blown, when the air is gone
Shrivels up into wrinkled skin.

They lifted the bier from its sepulchre,
Holy water they sprinkled around,
And lo! where it lay on the blood-stain’d clay,
A passage went under ground.

It led to the tombs and the long catacombs
Beneath the churchyard wall;
Where the Goules and Sprites keep on Sabbath nights
Their unholy Carnival.

And spiders unclean, and huge earth-grubs, were seen
Beneath the coffin to twine;
But the spider and worm own’d the pow’r of the charm,
For never a one crawl’d within.

From the loathing shrine of Saint Peter divine
They cast the Vampire forth,
But none could declare how it ever came there,
In consecrated earth.

From: Liddell, Henry, The Wizard of the North; The Vampire Bride; and Other Poems, 1833, William Blackwood: Edinburgh and T. Cadell: London, pp. 49-53.

Date: 1833

By: Henry Thomas Liddell (1797-1878)