Love and Sleep
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Lying asleep between the strokes of night
I saw my love lean over my sad bed,
Pale as the duskiest lily’s leaf or head,
Smooth-skinned and dark, with bare throat made to bite,
Too wan for blushing and too warm for white,
But perfect-coloured without white or red.
And her lips opened amorously, and said–
I wist not what, saving one word–Delight.
And all her face was honey to my mouth,
And all her body pasture to mine eyes;
The long lithe arms and hotter hands than fire,
The quivering flanks, hair smelling of the south,
The bright light feet, the splendid supple thighs
And glittering eyelids of my soul’s desire.
† Short Stories
In “Isis Unveiled” by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky we find the account of a Russian vampire and I must say that we do have quite a tale here.
“About the beginning of the present century” is when the story begins, with the wedding between the governor of the Provence Tch and a young woman, daughter of one of his servitors.
Needless to say that the union was forced upon the young girl. She was in love with someone her own age and was enthusiastic thinking of a wedding with him.
But the 60 year old influential man was infatuated and he was used to having his way! He was of a “malicious, tyrannical, cruel and jealous disposition”.
He beat her and locked her up in her chambers for weeks at a time and his jealousy was so great that he wouldn`t allow her to see anyone alone.
He eventually fell ill and, guessing that the end was near, he made her promise that she would never marry again – threatening her that if she ever did he would return from the grave to punish her.
After he died, he was buried in the cemetery across the river.
Time passed and the widow`s fears crumbled because she could now see her former love interest. As it was natural, the two were betrothed again.
On the night of the customary feast well after all the guests had retired, the house was disturbed by the screams of the young widow. She had been attacked by her dead husband – apart from the black and blue bruises she also had two small pierced wounds on her neck.
At first the peasants didn`t believe her but the next morning the guard stationed at the bridge reported that a black coach had passed him by [heading from the cemetery towards town] just before midnight.
Despite the fact that the new governor did not believe the story he doubled the number of guards from the bridge crossing the river. All was in vain, even the family of the young widow moving into the house to help her… every midnight the couch would pass the bridge and head for the house. The guards couldn`t stop it and the people in the mansion fell into a lethargic state leaving the widow vulnerable to the attacks of the undead.
Morning after morning she would be found bruised, bleeding and closer to death.
Even the local priest came to pass the night in prayer for the young girl; but he too subdued to the strange state so it was necessary for the archbishop to come and perform the exorcism ritual.
Initially they went and tried to stop the vampire on the bridge by posting a priest with a crucifix in front of him, but he succeeded in getting to his victim.
They then resorted to the ultimate solution – the corpse was exhumed and pinned to the ground by planting a stake through the heart. As the story goes, the corpse had the ckeeps and lips reddish but the rest of him was of an unnatural pale.
The usual ceremony was presided and the corpse re-interred. Then the attacks ceased.
๑۞๑ Related: ๑۞๑
† Vampire Accounts