The Art of Darkness

Ghostly “Bab Ballads”

November 12th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Courting GhostsW. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) wrote a large number of poems, ballads, and “funny articles” for the magazine Fun under the pen-name “Bab.” These came to be known as “Bab Ballads,” and in addition to being famous in their own right some were the source for plots and songs for the G&S operas.

This one, The Ghost to His Ladye Love, would be a fine addition to a wedding invitation.

Fair Phantom, come! The moon’s awake,
The owl hoots gaily from its brake,
     The blithesome bat’s a-wing.
Come, soar to yonder silent clouds;
The ether teems with peopled shrouds:
We’ll fly the lightsome spectre crowds,
     Thou cloudy, clammy thing!

Though there are others, spectre mine,
With eyes as hollow, quite, as thine,
     That thrill me from above —
Whose lips are quite as deathly pale,
Whose voices rival thine in wail
When, riding on the joyous gale,
     They breathe sepulchral love.

Still, there’s a modest charm in thee,
That causes thee to seem to be
     More pure than others are —
Though rich in calico and bone,
Thou art not beautiful alone —
For thou art also good, my own!
     And that is better, far.

United, we’ll defy alarms:
A death-time in each other’s arms
We’ll pass — and fear no dearth
     Of jollity: when Morpheus flits
O’er mortal eyes, we’ll whet our wits,
And frighten people into fits
     Who did us harm on earth!

Come, essence of a slumb’ring soul,
Throw off thy maidenly control
     Un-shroud thy ghastly face!
Give me thy foggy lips divine,
And let me press my mist to thine,
And fold thy nothingness in mine,
     In one long damp embrace.

And here’s another, The Ghosts’ High Noon, which would be great as part of a party invitation.

When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls,
and the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds,
sail over the midnight skies –
When the footpads quail at the night-bird’s wail,
and black dogs bay the moon,
Then is the spectres’ holiday –
then is the ghosts’ high noon!

As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees,
and the mists lie low on the fen,
From grey tombstones are gathered the bones
that once were women and men,
And away they go, with a mop and a mow,
to the revel that ends too soon,
For cockcrow limits our holiday –
the dead of the night’s high noon!

And then each ghost with his ladye-toast
to their churchyard beds take flight,
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps,
and a grisly grim “good night”;
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell
rings forth its jolliest tune,
And ushers our next high holiday –
the dead of the night’s high noon!

(via SheWalksSoftly)

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