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The Vampire Bride
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Author: Henry Thomas Liddell
Website: http://www.geocities.jp/cygnus_odile/tategaki/library/the_vampire_bride.html
Year: 1833

SAY why on this day, by the morn's first ray,
Were the church doors open'd wide ?
While the bells they ring, and the choristers sing ;
Say what may this betide ?

The bells they ring, and the choristers sing,
And the church doors are open'd wide,
For Albert the gay, on this holy day,
To the altar leads his bride.

With trumpets and drums, all trembling she comes,
Beneath her bridal veil ;
So shrinks below its shroud of snow
The early primrose pale.

But Albert among the glittering throng
His prancing steed bestrode —
With plumed hat and robe of state
Fully royally he rode.

At the stately porch of St Peter's Church
Alight the blooming part ;
And the proud aisles rang, as the choristers sang,
To bid them welcome there.

The holy Priest hath thier union blest,
And now, in the sight of Heaven,
Eternal troth is sworn by both,
And the mutual pledge is given.

A ring so rare, of emerald fair,
He placed her finger upon ;
And in true token of faith unbroken
She gave him a sapphire stone.

With hand join'd to hand, at the altar they stand,
And loudly the choristers sing ;
When a shuddering came over Albert's frame,
And he dropt his bridal ring.

As downward he bent with swift intent
That precious ring to save,
He heard a groan 'neath the altar stone,
And the church smell'd like a grave.

And a deathlike chill through his veins did thrill,
And his heart beat thick with fear ;
And his head swam round, for that ghastly sound
Was more than a mortal might bear.

But he sprung up in haste, and his ring he held fast,
And he gazed on his virgin bride,
And her hand he press'd to his beating breast,
And his heart swell'd again with pride.

And the cloud no more on his brow did lower,
As she leaned his arm upon ;
So the blackness of night on the mountain's height,
Is chased by the summer sun.

He led her straight to his palace gate,
While gaily the " Vivas" sound ;
For the lordly train, as they left the fane,
Did scatter angels round.

In her bridesmaids' care that lady fair
Retires for repose at noon ;
It was idlesse all in the palace hall,
As the flagging hours creep on.

The gallants resort to the tennis-court,
And the bridegroom join'd them there ;
For when was there a manly sport
That Albert would not share ?

And soon 'tis his chance the score to advance,
When his ring he again let fall ;
And lo! close at hand did a statue stand
On its marble pedestal.

'Twas of sculpture rare, and passing fair,
A girdle bound its waist ;
And words unknown on the circling zone
Mysteriously were traced.

The right hand did rest on its swelling breast,
The left was forward flung,
As of one who in fear at the sound she did hear,
In mute attention hung.

" 'Tis a goodly thought," — says Albert, caught
By the bright and proffer'd hand —
And without more delay on the finger of clay
He slid the mystic band.

— " But was it a dream ? or did the finger seem
To vibrate to me alone ?
And did the sun's ray bewilder me, — or say,
Did a smile wreathe its lips of stone ?"

Above and around the ball did bound,
And the hall rung with many a jest ;
Yet a boding drear thrilll'd in Albert's ear,
And strange thoughts his heart oppresst.

'Tis the hour to prepare for the bridal cheer,
And the grooms for Albert call ;
For in jewell'd state doth the bride await
Her guests is the palace-hall.

But Albert in vain strove his ring to regain,
From the finger of marble fair ;
Brightly it shone, while it clove to the stone,
As though it were frozen there.

Fast and faster it clove, still he earnestly strove
To detach that charmed gold ;
When the finger of stone doubled slowly down,
And the bridegroom's blood ran cold.

* * * * * *

A page stood near Count Albert's chair,
To wait his lord's behest,
With laughing cheek and rosy neck
Beneath his broider'd vest.

" Come hither, come hither, my little foot-page,
For ere yon sand be run,
By the torch's light, or the moonbeam bright,
An errand must be done.

" To the courts below thou must quickly go,
To the court where we toss the ball ;
There with outstretch'd hand doth a statue stand,
On its marble pedestal.

" With incautious haste, on that hand I placed
This noon a sapphire sotne,
No more may it linger on the marble finger ;—
So haste thee, my page, and begone ;

" And mark me, take a hammer, to break
The finger that's doubled down,
For there is the ring that I bid thee bring ;
Now speed me mine errand — and run."

The sand is run, the errand is done —
But the boy came trembling back ;
And the rosy red from his cheek hath fled,
And his limbs they quiver and quake.

" Oh! master dear, no ring is there!
No finger bent at all!
But the statue doth stand, with extended hand,
On its lofty pedestal!

" It gleam'd wan and white, in the pale moonlight,
And the courts look'd chill and drear ;
Methought it did smile, as I gazed the while ! —
I wellnigh swoon'd for fear.

" Unmoved by a breeze, the tall cypress-trees
Moan'd and waved in the silent air ;
And a meteor star shot swift and far
Through the sparkling hemisphere.

" And the hats unclean, with leathern skin,
Flapp'd heavily around ;
And a strange dog did howl, while shriek'd the owl,
And like a grave smell'd the ground."

Back shrunk the page, for an ashen hue
Spread wide over Albert's cheek ;
And there stood on his brow clammy drops of dew,
And in vain he essay'd to speak.

But the red wine he quaff'd, and he fearfully laugh'd,
But he drew a long sigh between ;
His hand he pass'd o'er his brow in haste
Then rose and changed the scene.

* * * * * *

The bridesmaids are gone, and the bride left alone,
And the sounds of mirth are fled ;
And Albert, released from the dance and the feast,
Hath sought the nuptial bed.

But his heart beat quick, and his breath came thick,
And a nameless dread crept o'er him ;
Yet he turn'd with delight to his lady bright,
Reclin'd in her beauty before him.

He turned unto his lady true,
And he felt her flutt'ring breath ;
When an icy chill through his veins did thrill,
And he shrunk from the grasp of death.

And a bitter, bitter cry broke forth in agony, —
" Save me ! for mercy ! save !"
For in his arms he did hold a figure damp and cold,
And the couch smell'd like a grave.

" Thou this day didst me wed, and I come to thy bed,
Thy nuptial joys to share ;
And in token true, the sapphire blue
On my finger still I wear."

Another bitter cry, and he senseless did lie —
For the phantom marble prest
Its loathsome form 'gainst his bosom warm,
And weigh'd down his lab'ring breast.

And ever and anon murmur'd the lips of stone, —
" This bridal couch is thine ;
To thy bed I come, but ere three days are gone,
Albert, thou com'st to mine."

The morning light hath dispell'd the night
Unhappy Albert lay
With throbbing head on his nuptial bed,
Cold as the coffin'd clay.

But the Demon guest from his struggling breast
Had its icy grasp withdrawn ;
Away it flew, as the first cock crew
In sign of the blushing dawn.

And his faithful bride, who lay by his side,
Awoke at the self-same hour ;
For a slumber deep did her senses steep
While the spectre Bride had power.

Devoutly she pray'd to the Virgin for aid,
For her heart beat with nameless fears ;
She laid her warm cheek on her Albert's neck,
And fast fell the trickling tears.

And she folded his face in her tender embrace,
And her soft and balmy breath
Thaw'd the icy chains that froze his veins,
And dispell'd the shades of death.

" Now send for the priest, let my sins be confest,
Short space to me is given ;
Though the Demon claim my mortal frame,
Yet my soul may find rest in Heaven."

The holy priest hath his sins confest,
And now, with shuddering cold,
Of his summons dread to the Phantom's bed
Hath Albert darkly told : —

And how by some spell of the powers of Hell
She had gain'd his sapphire stone ;
And in right of that ring, how the foul damp thing
Did claim him for her own.

The priest turn'd pale at the ghostly tale,
And he shook his tonsured head ;
And the livelong day he did fast and pray
Beside the sufferer's bed.

Cold horror sate in those halls of state,
Which had echoed the nuptial song ;
And the bridal wreath seem'd the emblem of death,
And fear froze every tongue.

The second night came, but the taper's flame
Dispell'd the thickening gloom ;
For they trusted with prayer the fiend to scare,
If again she sought the room.

And a cross of gold the priest did hold,
And at intervals they raise,
In chorus meet, the vespers sweet,
To the Blessed Virgin's praise.

And his faithful bride lay awake by his side,
'Till St Peter's clock toll'd one ;
When a slumber deep o'er her senses did creep,
For the Demon's power had begun.

The taper's light was extinguish'd quite,
And the choristers all dropp'd to rest,
And the priest sunk down, like a monument stone,
With the cross on his bosom prest.

And again a bitter cry broke forth in agony, —
" Save me ! for mercy ! save !"
For Albert did hold the Spectre damp and cold,
And the couch smell'd like a grave ! "

" I am come — I am come ! once again from the tomb,
In return for the ring which you gave ;
That I am thine, and that thou art mine,
This nuptial pledge receive."

He lay like a corse 'neath the Demon's force,
And she wrapp'd him in a shround ;
And she fixed her teeth his heart beneath,
And she drank of the warm life-blood!

And ever and anon murmur'd the lips of stone,
" Soft and warm is this couch of thine,
Thou'lt to-morrow be laid on a colder bed —
Albert! that bed will be mine!"

Another bitter cry, and he senseless did lie,
For the fiend sucked his stifled breath ;
And the blood flowed fast from his wounded breast,
And he sufferd the pangs of death.

The morning light hath chased the night,
And the fiend hath its grasp withdrawn ;
Away it flew, as the first cock crew
In sign of the blushing dawn.

And the startled priest, and the watchers, in haste
From unearthly slumbres broke :
For the nightmare's weight on their lungs had sate,
And the breath in their throats did choke.

With stiffened limb and eyeballs dim,
Cold as the coffin'd clay,
Where his blood ran red over the nuptial bed,
Expiring Albert lay.

But his faithful bride, who lay by his side,
Was still wrapp'd in slumber deep ;
And her soft lips smiled, like a dreaming child,
'Twas a pure and an holy sleep.

At length like the rose in the morning that blows,
Her eyelids from slumber awake :
And like dewdrops her tears, mingle soft with her prayers,
For her suffering Albert's sake.

But she folded his face in her tender embrace,
And her warm and virgin breath
Thaw'd the icy chains that froze his veins,
And dispell'd the shades of death.

And words of good cheer she breathed in his ear,
And with steady hand and calm,
And with cheek unblench'd, his wound she stanch'd
With juice of the healing balm.

" Oh Albert! be cheer'd, my prayers have been heard,
For lo! in her mercy mild,
The mother of God before me stood,
And kiss'd her sleeping child :

" She bade me dig down, 'neath the altar stone,
In St Peter's holy dome,
And thence shall I bring the sapphire ring
In triumph from the tomb !"

She is gone to the fane, with a priestly train,
With vestment, and banner, and cross ;
The church bells they ring, and the choristers sing,
And the censers they zealously toss :

Then with pick-axe and spade, ten lab'rers essay'd
The ponderous stone to move ;
And though the priests sung, and the censers swung,
In vain the labourers strove.

But in purpose stout, and with heart devout,
Is the virtuous maiden gone :
When the virtuous maid lent her feeble aid,
Up sprung the lighten'd stone.

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 scream'd ;

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.

To the ramparts they hurried the carcass unburied,
Where the murderer's limbs are thrown,
Where the foxes prowl, and the gaunt wolves howl,
As they gnash the mangled bone.

'Twas noon, but a lurid and sulphurous glare
Eclipsed the meridian sun ;
A sickly heat taints the murky air,
A whirlwind comes rushing on!

"It came rushing and roaring, like a cataract pouring
Over a mountain rock ;" (1)
And the crashing thunder rent the vapours asunder —
It was felt like an earthquake's shock!

The flashing levin, from the blood-red Heaven,
Blazed o'er the Vampire dead ;
When the hurricane-roar was heard no more,
Corpse, coffin, and girdle were fled !

And the self-same flash to the pavement did dash
In fragments the cinctured stone: —
So the wrath Divine, in Philistia's shrine,
Hurl'd Dagon from his throne.

* * * * * *

'Twere long to relate what joys await
Albert recall'd to life ;
But this believe, that none e'er did receive
A more faithful and virtuous wife.

When he saw the well-known ring of sapphire stone,
Tears of joy stream'd down his cheek ;

When his bride he press'd to his grateful breast,
His heart swell'd, but he could not speak.

But once in each year the live-long night
Is spent in devotion and prayer ;
On the fatal night of the Vampire's bite
Blood runs from his bosom's scar.

And till morning light doth his lady bright
Hymns to the Virgin sing —
As the fiendish wail sounds along the gale,
Bemoaning the sapphire ring.

(1) These two lines are borrowed from Southey's ballad, "The Old
Woman of Berkeley," and throughout the whole of these stanzas the
author pleads guilty to the appropriation of many thoughts and
phrases which may be found passim in former tales of horror and
wonder. I have, indeed, been informed, that Moore has written a
ballad upon this very subject ; but I have never seen it, or heard of
it in any edition of his works.

Date Added: February 12, 2010
Added By: Dragonrouge
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