Count Eric Stenbock, Lunatic Lover

Posted by Glennis Byron on November 16, 2010 in Blog, News tagged with , ,

I’ve been looking without much luck for an etext of Stenbock’s ‘Lunatic Lover’, a poem in which a vampire arrives in a dream. Has anyone come across this, preferably in translation? (For those not familiar with Stenbock (1859-95), he’s an eccentric who was born in Estonia but lived in London and indulged in a particularly decadent lifestyle; he’s been called the ‘first Goth’ by some, and he most famously wrote ‘A True Story of a Vampire’.)

I do know that an adaptation of the poem was performed by Marc Almond with Michael Cashmore on Gabriel and the Lunatic Lover in 2008, and I’ve found those lyrics. But… I’m not sure how much they have been changed from the original (apart from the obvious of being translated). I’ve reproduced Almond’s lyrics at the end of this post, and, just in case anyone is interested, here’s a youtube with Almond performing the song:

Ah, love, I dreamed of thee last night
Of strange lips kissing me
With subtle penetrating pain
(I shudder, when I think of this
A moon veil shrouded thee)
Thine eyes had in them all the light
Of the moonlight on the sea

Thine eyes are beautiful and soft
As the eye of Seraphim
Ah, limpid liquid lustrous eyes
Sad eyes half bright, half dim
Half without light, half brighter bright
Than the eyes of Seraphim

That strange magnetic glance, that gleams
From those mystic eyes of vair
That face so brilliantly pale
And yet withal so fair
Love-pale and passion-pale, and yet
So marvellously fair
That countenance corpse-like refined
And subtle coloured hair

Thy slender limbs that seem to burn
Thy vesture through with fire
That serpentine electric form
Half quivering with desire
Thy movements full of grace divine
Like the music of the lyre
(Alas! for who looks on thee
Feels new and strange desire
The serpent winds around his heart
His soul is turned to fire
As though within his veins there ran
A current of Hell fire)

I know, I know that long ago
The moon with silver feet
Crept to thy bed, close to thine head
And kissed thy forehead, sweet
Giving thy lips strange wine to drink
And alien flesh to eat
And apples culled from the Dead Sea
Which are the serpent’s meat
Fruit from the tree by the Dead Sea
Whose fruit is death to eat

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