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Happy to having Blue Flute, who I had the pleasure to meet in New York a few weeks ago tending the Poetics bar with a fantastic, inspiring prompt….and I’m stepping out of the way and hand the mic to him…

Remember growing up watching Dracula? Or perhaps you saw Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the movie adaptation of Interview with the Vampire. However we were first introduced to the concept of vampires, they have a way of capturing our imagination when we are young and provide a fertile source of symbolism and meaning as we grow older.

Vampires are beings that feed on the life of other beings, generally in the form of drinking their blood. This concept has been in many cultures since before written records began, but became popular in the current form around the 1700s, based on vampire legends from Eastern Europe. The greatest literary result of these legends was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which has spawned innumerable literary and cinematic offshoots.

Le Vampire by Philip Burne-Jones (1861-1926), created around 1897. This is public domain due to an expired copyright. Source: Wikimedia Commons

So the theme for today is VAMPIRES – literal or figurative. The first item for your inspiration is the painting above, Le Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones. It is his most famous painting, inspiring a Rudyard Kipling poem, “The Vampire,” which in turn inspired an early silent movie, A Fool There Was (1915). This is Rudyard Kipling’s poem:

A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you or I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair,
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair–
(Even as you or I!)

Oh, the years we waste and the tears we waste,
And the work of our head and hand
Belong to the woman who did not know
(And now we know that she never could know)
And did not understand!

A fool there was and his goods he spent,
(Even as you or I!)
Honour and faith and a sure intent
(And it wasn’t the least what the lady meant),
But a fool must follow his natural bent
(Even as you or I!)

Oh, the toil we lost and the spoil we lost
And the excellent things we planned
Belong to the woman who didn’t know why
(And now we know that she never knew why)
And did not understand!

The fool was stripped to his foolish hide,
(Even as you or I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside–
(But it isn’t on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died–
(Even as you or I!)

“And it isn’t the shame and it isn’t the blame
That stings like a white-hot brand–
It’s coming to know that she never knew why
(Seeing, at last, she could never know why)
And never could understand!”

Charles Baudelaire, in a poem I’ve translated with video readings of the French and a different English translation, wrote an earlier (1857) and even darker interpretation of a figurative vampire:

Original French Translation
Charles Baudelaire’s “Le Vampire” Charles Baudelaire’s “The Vampire”
Toi qui, comme un coup de couteau, You, like a piercing knife,
Dans mon coeur plaintif es entrée; Who entered my grieving heart;
Toi qui, forte comme un troupeau You, strong as a flock of demons,
De démons, vins, folle et parée, Who came adorned in madness.
De mon esprit humilié My shameful spirit
Faire ton lit et ton domaine; Made into your bed and your domain;
— Infâme à qui je suis lié —Vile woman to whom I am bound
Comme le forçat à la chaîne, As a convict to a chain,
Comme au jeu le joueur têtu, As a gambler to his game,
Comme à la bouteille l’ivrogne, As a drunkard to his drink,
Comme aux vermines la charogne As a vermin to his carcass,
— Maudite, maudite sois-tu! —Cursed, cursed—be you!
J’ai prié le glaive rapide I prayed for the swift sword
De conquérir ma liberté, To win my freedom,
Et j’ai dit au poison perfide And asked the treacherous poison
De secourir ma lâcheté. To save my cowardice.
Hélas! le poison et le glaive Alas! The sword and poison both
M’ont pris en dédain et m’ont dit: Have left me disdained and said:
«Tu n’es pas digne qu’on t’enlève “You’re not fit to be lifted
À ton esclavage maudit, from accurséd slavery,
Imbécile! — de son empire Fool! — if our efforts
Si nos efforts te délivraient, Could free you from her empire,
Tes baisers ressusciteraient Your kisses would revive
Le cadavre de ton vampire!» Your vampire’s carcass!”

ASSIGNMENT

Write about vampires—figurative or literal. You could do this in the form of a poetic narrative, telling a story, or thinking about the symbolism of vampires to our culture or primal fears. You could also go with a comic, campy angle and just have fun with it. Feel free to draw on any of the sources above or any outside sources of inspiration.

Here’s how it works…

    • Write your poem
    • Post it on your blog
    • Click the Mr. Linky button below, and in the new window that opens up input your name and direct url of the poem
    • Visit others who have taken the challenge
    • have fun!