Thursday, October 18, 2007

Some revenants

{"Ghost Stories," photo by Santheo.}

From "The Dreamers," by Isak Dinesen, in Seven Gothic Tales (1934)
The still night was bewildering in its deep silence and peace, as if something had happened to the world; as if the soul of it had been, by some magic, turned upside down. The free monsoon came from far places, and the seas wandered on under its sway, on her long journey, in the face of the dim luminous moon. . . . The waves looked solid, as if one might safely have walked upon them, while it was into the vertiginous sky that one might sink and fall, into the turbulent and unfathomable depths of silvery worlds, of bright silver or dull and tarnished silver, forever silver reflected within silver, moving and changing, towering up, slowly and weightless.

From "Young Goodman Brown," by Nathaniel Hawthorne, in Mosses from an Old Manse (1846)
"Dearest heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, "prithee put off your journey until sunrise and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she's afeard of herself sometimes. Pray tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year."

From "A Useless Window," by Carrie Olivia Adams, in A Useless Window (2006)

are you hearing this?
The night sky dims:

We will lose our way
in these red chambers.

Our palms with the look
of blood already.

From Religio Medici (1643), by Thomas Browne, collected in The Oxford Book of Death (1983), edited by D. J. Enright:
I believe . . . that those apparitions and ghosts of departed persons are not the wandring souls of men, but the unquiet walks of Devils, prompting and suggesting us unto mischief, blood, and villainy; instilling and stealing into our hearts that the blessed Spirits are not at rest in their graves, but wander solicitous of the affairs of the World. But that those phantasms appear often, and do frequent Cemeteries, Charnel-houses, and Church, it is because those are the dormitories of the dead, where the Devil, like an insolent Champion, beholds with pride the spoils and Trophies of his Victory over Adam.

From "The Double," by Jorge Luis Borges, in The Book of Imaginary Beings (1967, 2005 translation by Andrew Hurley):
In Germany, it is called the Doppelganger; in Scotland, the fetch, because it comes to fetch men to their deaths.

From Certain of the Chronicles, by Levi Stahl

Hither and Yon,
I, Doppelganger

One darkling October
I met myself going--
When I was a-coming,
I met myself going.

I looked me all over
With no way of knowing
As I was a-coming
Where I could be going.

But I knew 'tweren't right
So I took all affright
And scattered my bones
In the depths of the night,

And scattered my bones
In the depths of the night.

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