Sunday, February 14, 2016

Goethe's Erl King and other Scary Poems



The Erl King by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Erl King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
For many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child, thy fancy deceives;
the wind is sighing through withering leaves."

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
My daughters by night on the dance floor you lead,
They'll cradle and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl King is showing his daughters to me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou aren't willing, then force I'll employ."
"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
For sorely the Erl King has hurt me at last."

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He holds in his arms the shuddering child;
He reaches his farmstead with toil and with dread,—
The child in his arms he finds motionless, dead.


The Apparition By John Donne

When by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead,
And that thou thinkst thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign'd vestal, in worse arms shall see:
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tired before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
Thou call'st for more,
And, in false sleep, will from thee shrink:
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou
Bathed in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lie,
A verier ghost than I.
What I will say, I will not tell thee now,
Lest that preserve thee; and since my love is spent,
I'd rather thou shouldst painfully repent,
Than by my threatenings rest still innocent.


WHEN THE NIGHT WIND HOWLS  by W.S. Gilbert

When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls,
And the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds,
Sail over the midnight skies.
When the footpads quail at the night bird's wail,
And black dogs bay at the moon,
Then is the spectres' holiday--
Then is the ghosts' high noon!
For then is the ghosts' high noon,
High noon-----, then is the ghosts' high noon!

As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees
And the mists lie low on the fen,
From grey tombstones are gathered the bones
That once were women and men,
And away they go, with a mop and a mow,
To the revel that ends too soon,
For cock crow limits our holiday,
The dead of the night's high noon!
The dead of the night's high noon!
High noon-----, the dead of the night's high noon!

And then each ghost with his lady toast
To their church-yard beds take flight,
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps,
And a grisly grim "goodnight!"
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell
Rings forth its jolliest tune,
And ushers in our next high holiday,
The dead of the night's high noon!
The dead of the night's high noon,
High noon-----, the dead of the night's high noon!


Totentanz by Goethe:

The warder looks down at the mid hour of night,
On the tombs that lie scatter'd below:
The moon fills the place with her silvery light,
And the churchyard like day seems to glow.
When see! first one grave, then another opes wide,
And women and men stepping forth are descried,
In cerements snow-white and trailing.-

In haste for the sport soon their ankles they twitch,
And whirl round in dances so gay;
The young and the old, and the poor, and the rich,
But the cerements stand in their way;
And as modesty cannot avail them aught here,
They shake themselves all, and the shrouds soon appear
Scatter'd over the tombs in confusion.-

Now waggles the leg, and now wriggles the thigh,
As the troop with strange gestures advance,
And a rattle and clatter anon rises high,
As of one beating time to the dance.
The sight to the warder seems wondrously queer,
When the villainous Tempter speaks thus in his ear:
"Seize one of the shrouds that lie yonder!"-

Quick as thought it was done! and for safety he fled
Behind the church-door with all speed;
The moon still continues her clear light to shed
On the dance that they fearfully lead.
But the dancers at length disappear one by one,
And their shrouds, ere they vanish, they carefully don,
And under the turf all is quiet.

But one of them stumbles and shuffles there still,
And gropes at the graves in despair;
Yet 'tis by no comrade he's treated so ill
The shroud he soon scents in the air.
So he rattles the door--for the warder 'tis well
That 'tis bless'd, and so able the foe to repel,
All cover'd with crosses in metal.-

The shroud he must have, and no rest will allow,
There remains for reflection no time;
On the ornaments Gothic the wight seizes now,
And from point on to point hastes to climb.
Alas for the warder! his doom is decreed!
Like a long-legged spider, with ne'er-changing speed,
Advances the dreaded pursuer. -

The warder he quakes, and the warder turns pale,
The shroud to restore fain had sought;
When the end,--now can nothing to save him avail,--
In a tooth formed of iron is caught.
With vanishing lustre the moon's race is run,
When the bell thunders loudly a powerful One,
And the skeleton fails, crush'd to atoms.-


Her Strong Enchantments Failing by A.E. Houseman

Her strong enchantments failing,
Her towers of fear in wreck,
Her limbecks dried of poisons
And the knife at her neck,

The Queen of air and darkness
Begins to shrill and cry,
"O young man, O my slayer,
To-morrow you shall die."

O Queen of air and darkness,
I think 'tis truth you say,
And I shall die tomorrow;
But you will die to-day.


Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allan Poe

Thy soul shall find itself alone
'Mid dark thoughts of the gray tomb-stone-
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy:

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness - for then
the spirits of the dead who stood
In life before three, are again
In death around three - and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.

III

The night- tho clear - shall frown -
And the stars shall look not down,
From their high thrones in the heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given -

But their red-orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish -
Now are visions ne'er to vanish -
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more - like dew-drops from the grass.

the breeze - the breath of God - is still
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy - shadowy - yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token -
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!-


The Hollow Man by T.S. Eliot

I

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer --

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

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