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21 Days Until Halloween


Today, my friends, is 10-10-10, also known as 42 Day. Binary 42 is the most significant date in this century because, as all good readers of Douglas Adams (1952-2001) know, forty-two is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. If you're looking for a good scare, I recommend celebrating with some Vogon poetry.

101010


Today is also the launch of the second volume in the amazing StarShipSofa Stories collection, which I've mentioned previously. With stories by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Ekaterina Sedia, Nancy Kress, and Lawrence Santoro, this fully illustrated volume should make for terrific reading! Here's more information.




I have more listening suggestions for your Halloween season:

  • In the past I've recommended the wonderful podcast called The Classic Tales, which has featured beautiful narrations by B.J. Harrison of the works of authors such as Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft. For the month of October, The Classic Tales is now offering an unabridged reading of the oh-so-spooky The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.


  • For those of you using iTunes, check out the University of Glamorgan's "Mad Doctors of Cinema" show on iTunes U, in which scientists and scholars discuss such crazy and creepy characters as Drs. Frankenstein, Faustus, Moreau, and Strangelove. Click here to go to the University of Glamorgan on iTunes.


  • Ninteen Nocturne Boulevard is running new unabridged readings of some of H.P. Lovecraft's stories, including "Nyarlathoptep," "What the Moon Brings," "From Beyond," and "The Colour Out of Space," among others.


Text of the Day: Today's verses tell a spooky story: "The Skeleton in Armor" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).

"Speak! speak I thou fearful guest
Who, with thy hollow breast
Still in rude armor drest,
Comest to daunt me!
Wrapt not in Eastern balms,
Bat with thy fleshless palms
Stretched, as if asking alms,
Why dost thou haunt me?"

Then, from those cavernous eyes
Pale flashes seemed to rise,
As when the Northern skies
Gleam in December;
And, like the water's flow
Under December's snow,
Came a dull voice of woe
From the heart's chamber.


"I was a Viking old!
My deeds, though manifold,
No Skald in song has told,
No Saga taught thee!
Take heed, that in thy verse
Thou dost the tale rehearse,
Else dread a dead man's curse;
For this I sought thee.

"Far in the Northern Land,
By the wild Baltic's strand,
I, with my childish hand,
Tamed the gerfalcon;
And, with my skates fast-bound,
Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,
That the poor whimpering hound
Trembled to walk on.

"Oft to his frozen lair
Tracked I the grisly bear,
While from my path the hare
Fled like a shadow;
Oft through the forest dark
Followed the were-wolf's bark,
Until the soaring lark
Sang from the meadow.

"But when I older grew,
Joining a corsair's crew,
O'er the dark sea I flew
With the marauders.
Wild was the life we led;
Many the souls that sped,
Many the hearts that bled,
By our stern orders.

"Many a wassail-bout
Wore the long Winter out;
Often our midnight shout
Set the cocks crowing,
As we the Berserk's tale
Measured in cups of ale,
Draining the oaken pail,
Filled to o'erflowing.

"Once as I told in glee
Tales of the stormy sea,
Soft eyes did gaze on me,
Burning yet tender;
And as the white stars shine
On the dark Norway pine,
On that dark heart of mine
Fell their soft splendor.

"I wooed the blue-eyed maid,
Yielding, yet half afraid,
And in the forest's shade
Our vows were plighted.
Under its loosened vest
Fluttered her little breast
Like birds within their nest
By the hawk frighted.

"Bright in her father's hall
Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Loud sang the minstrels all,
Chanting his glory;
When of old Hildebrand
I asked his daughter's hand,
Mute did the minstrels stand
To hear my story.

"While the brown ale he quaffed,
Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft
The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn
Blew the foam lightly.

"She was a Prince's child,
I but a Viking wild,
And though she blushed and smiled,
I was discarded!
Should not the dove so white
Follow the sea-mew's flight,
Why did they leave that night
Her nest unguarded?

"Scarce had I put to sea,
Bearing the maid with me,
Fairest of all was she
Among the Norsemen!
When on the white sea-strand,
Waving his armed hand,
Saw we old Hildebrand,
With twenty horsemen.

"Then launched they to the blast,
Bent like a reed each mast,
Yet we were gaining fast,
When the wind failed us;
And with a sudden flaw
Came round the gusty Skaw,
So that our foe we saw
Laugh as he hailed us.

"And as to catch the gale
Round veered the flapping sail,
Death I was the helmsman's hail,
Death without quarter!
Mid-ships with iron keel
Struck we her ribs of steel
Down her black hulk did reel
Through the black water!

"As with his wings aslant,
Sails the fierce cormorant,
Seeking some rocky haunt
With his prey laden,
So toward the open main,
Beating to sea again,
Through the wild hurricane,
Bore I the maiden.

"Three weeks we westward bore,
And when the storm was o'er,
Cloud-like we saw the shore
Stretching to leeward;
There for my lady's bower
Built I the lofty tower,
Which, to this very hour,
Stands looking seaward.

"There lived we many years;
Time dried the maiden's tears
She had forgot her fears,
She was a mother.
Death closed her mild blue eyes,
Under that tower she lies;
Ne'er shall the sun arise
On such another!

"Still grew my bosom then.
Still as a stagnant fen!
Hateful to me were men,
The sunlight hateful!
In the vast forest here,
Clad in my warlike gear,
Fell I upon my spear,
O, death was grateful!

"Thus, seamed with many scars,
Bursting these prison bars,
Up to its native stars
My soul ascended!
There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior's soul,
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!"
Thus the tale ended.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
gilda_elise
Oct. 10th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
I love the poem. Longfellow does seem to veer toward tragedy and lost (who could read Evangeline and not weep?)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2010 10:53 am (UTC)
You're absolutely right, he does! And that makes his work really unforgettable, I think. I love this one, too.
reynardine
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!"
Thus the tale ended.


I love the ending to that poem. I read it when I was in junior high and those two lines stayed with me.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
I can see why they stayed with you! I love this ending, too.
elvenjoy
Oct. 11th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
The past couple years, my brother, thepirateship has talked about you, including your 31 days of Halloween, and finally today, I worked up the courage to ask if we could be friends... if you don't mind? :)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 11th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
I would be delighted! Thank you so much. :)
elvenjoy
Oct. 11th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much too! :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )