October 9th, 2008


Halloween Countdown, Day 9

Mewlip territory
Originally uploaded by ewan.osullivan
- For your Halloween listening pleasure today, I recommend "The Superstitious Ghost" from The Music of the Fredösphere, which is available for free in streaming MP3 format. Frederic Himebaugh's arrangement for a four-part choir adapts a poem by Arthur Guiterman (c. 1918). The score is even available on the website, if you wish to read along.

- Valancourt Books is an independent press based in Kansas City that specializes in quality new editions of rare literature from the 18th and 19th centuries. This is the best press around for beautiful and affordable Gothic novels. And now their second annual Halloween Special is available!

LITERATURE OF THE DAY: Today I want to share two of my all-time spooky favorites that I never grow tired of revisiting, both from the great J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) and his The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

The first is "The Mewlips." And here is a special treat: listen to J.R.R. Tolkien reading the first lines!

"The Mewlips" by J.R.R. Tolkien

The shadows where the Mewlips dwell
Are dark and wet as ink,
And slow and softly rings their bell,
As in the slime you sink.

You sink into the slime, who dare
To knock upon their door,
While down the grinning gargoyles stare
And noisome waters pour.

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The next is called "The Sea-Bell," and is also referred to as "Frodo's Dreme." It is, I think, a thoroughly haunting piece. The last line always moves me. To quote Simon Tam, "This must be what going mad feels like."

"The Sea-Bell" by J.R.R. Tolkien

I walked by the sea, and there came to me,
as a star-beam on the wet sand,
a white shell like a sea-bell;
trembling it lay in my wet hand.
In my fingers shaken I heard waken
a ding within, by a harbour bar
a buoy swinging, a call ringing
over endless seas, faint now and far.

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