Today I’ll show you some vampire poetry. There are many many many writers that use vampire as their main theme… And also poets. Charles Baudelaire… Actually my favorite one, wrote “Le Vampire” on the year ov 1857 on his collection “Les Fleurs Du Mal”.
Charles Pierre Baudelaire was born in Paris, France in 1821. He published in1857 his first and most famous volume of poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), originally titled Les Limbes. In this volume, you can find a poem named “Le Vampire“:
Toi qui, comme un coup de couteau,
Dans mon coeur plaintif es entrée;
Toi qui, forte comme un troupeau
De démons, vins, folle et parée,
De mon esprit humilié
Faire ton lit et ton domaine;
— Infâme à qui je suis lié
Comme le forçat à la chaîne,
Comme au jeu le joueur têtu,
Comme à la bouteille l’ivrogne,
Comme aux vermines la charogne
— Maudite, maudite sois-tu!
J’ai prié le glaive rapide
De conquérir ma liberté,
Et j’ai dit au poison perfide
De secourir ma lâcheté.
Hélas! le poison et le glaive
M’ont pris en dédain et m’ont dit:
«Tu n’es pas digne qu’on t’enlève
À ton esclavage maudit,
Imbécile! — de son empire
Si nos efforts te délivraient,
Tes baisers ressusciteraient
Le cadavre de ton vampire!»
— Charles Baudelaire
You who, like the stab of a knife,
Entered my plaintive heart;
You who, strong as a herd
Of demons, came, ardent and adorned,
To make your bed and your domain
Of my humiliated mind
— Infamous bitch to whom I’m bound
Like the convict to his chain,
Like the stubborn gambler to the game,
Like the drunkard to his wine,
Like the maggots to the corpse,
— Accurst, accurst be you!
I begged the swift poniard
To gain for me my liberty,
I asked perfidious poison
To give aid to my cowardice.
Alas! both poison and the knife
Contemptuously said to me:
“You do not deserve to be freed
From your accursed slavery,
Fool! — if from her domination
Our efforts could deliver you,
Your kisses would resuscitate
The cadaver of your vampire!”
— Translated by: William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)
Oh well, the text is pretty beautiful.
So… In 1857, Baudelaire wrote another one named “Metamorphisis of a Vampire“:
“When she drained me of my very marrow, and cold
And weak, I turned to give her one more kiss-behold,
There at my side was nothing but a hideous
Putrescent thing, all faceless and exuding pus.”
-Fragment of Metamorphosis of a Vampire” – Charles Baudelaire
Our next one was wrotten in 1748 by Heinrich August Ossenfelder. He brought up one of the first works of art to touch upon the subject is the short German poem Der Vampir (The Vampire), where the theme already has strong erotic overtones: a man whose love is rejected by a respectable and pious maiden threatens to pay her a nightly visit, drink her blood by giving her the seductive kiss of the vampire and thus prove her that his teaching is better than her mother’s Christianity.
Mein liebes Mägdchen glaubet
Beständig steif und feste,
An die gegebnen Lehren
Der immer frommen Mutter;
Als Völker an der Theyse
An tödtliche Vampiere
Heyduckisch feste glauben.
Nun warte nur Christianchen,
Du willst mich gar nicht lieben;
Ich will mich an dir rächen,
Und heute in Tockayer
Zu einem Vampir trinken.
Und wenn du sanfte schlummerst,
Von deinen schönen Wangen
Den frischen Purpur saugen.
Alsdenn wirst du erschrecken,
Wenn ich dich werde küssen
Und als ein Vampir küssen:
Wenn du dann recht erzitterst
Und matt in meine Arme,
Gleich einer Todten sinkest
Alsdenn will ich dich fragen,
Sind meine Lehren besser,
Als deiner guten Mutter?
– Heinrich August Ossenfelder
My dear young maiden clingeth
Unbending, fast and firm
To all the long-held teaching
Of a mother ever true;
As in vampires unmortal
Folk on the Theyse’s portal
Heyduck-like do believe.
But my Christine thou dost dally,
And wilt my loving parry
Till I myself avenging
To a vampire’s health a-drinking
Him toast in pale tockay.
And as softly thou art sleeping
To thee shall I come creeping
And thy life’s blood drain away.
And so shalt thou be trembling
For thus shall I be kissing
And death’s threshold thou’ it be crossing
With fear, in my cold arms.
And last shall I thee question
Compared to such instruction
What are a mother’s charms?
Furthermore, there have been a number of tales about a dead person returning from the grave to visit his/her beloved or spouse and bring them death in one way or another, the narrative poem Lenore (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger being a notable 18th century example.
“Loud snorted the horse as he plunged and reared,
And the sparks were scattered round: –
What man shall say if he vanished away,
Or sank in the gaping ground?
Groans from the earth and shrieks in the air!
Howling and wailing everywhere!
Half dead, half living, the soul of Lenore
Fought as it never had fought before.”
-Gottfried August Bürger
One of Gottfried’s lines in Lenore poem is Denn die Toten reiten schnell (“For the dead travel fast”) and it was to be quoted in Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula.
“n the carriage, Harker notes:
As he spoke he smiled,and the lamplight fell on a hard-looking mouth, with very red lips and sharp-looking teeth, as white as ivory. One of my companions whispered to another the line from Burger’s “Lenore”.
“Denn die Todten reiten Schnell.”
(“For the dead travel fast.”)”
-Bram Stoker’s Dracula
A later German poem exploring the same subject with a prominent vampiric element was The Bride of Corinth (1797) by Goethe,
a story about a young woman who returns from the grave to seek her betrothed:
“From my grave to wander I am forced
Still to seek the God’s long server’d link,
Still to love the bridegroom I have lost,
And the lifeblood of his heart to drink.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Another one from Goethe is “Skeleton Dance”, which is not really about vampires, but undeads, that’s why I’m not going to mention it here. So, now Robert Southey He was born on August 12th 1774 and was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called “Lake Poets”, and Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843. He wrote in 1081 the poem named
“Thalaba the Destroyer“:
“Her very lineaments,..and such as death
Had changed them, livid cheeks, and lips of blue;
But in her eyes there dwelt
Brightness more terrible
Than all the loathsomeness of death.
“Still art thou living, wretch?”
In hollow tones she cried to Thalaba;
“And must I nightly leave my grave
To tell thee, still in vain,
God hath abandon’d thee?”
Let us not forget Lord Byron! Oh yeah, his name is almost as cool as Vlad III, The Impaler (OH GOD.) Byron wrote in his epic poem The Giaour (1813) the traditional folkloric conception of the vampire as a being damned to suck the blood and destroy the life of its nearest relations:
- But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
- There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corse:
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.
- -Lord Byron
John Stagg wrote on 1810 the poem (with prose and poetry) “The Vampire“. It begins with and argument first and ends with poetry. That said, it belongs just as well in the prose story section since it features a dialogue format and basically tells the story of vampires crawling into bed with friends and sucking them dry, which then creates another vampire. There’s a lot of poems named “The vampire”. Writers like James Maxwell, Owen Meredith, Rudyard Kipling and many many others. There is also a lot of vampire poetry around the centuries, I can keep talking the whole day, but I’ll just live it to you. You can find the poem called “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” (1850) and “Lamia“(1819), both wrotten by John Keats, and also a lot of modern poetry, all over internet, you just need to google it. As I already did, here goes some of the new modern vampire poetry to you:
Fly, little vampire, through the night
You think you control the wind you ride
Go, vampire, bring fear and fright
You think you’re a god in your foolish pride
But immortality’s just a vampire’s dream
Never I’ll rest before you’re gone
Your blood will flow in an endless stream
The dream will be over when I’m done.
I hope you liked it. ’till next time.