A spine chilling tale of love, betrayal and a gruesome revenge from beyond the grave. Told in the traditional ballad style of Medieval Minstrels with a definite Gothic horror feel. Read this one out at you Halloween party - if you dare.... (footnote explains the title and legends I refer to.)
PICTURE is the view from the haunted bridge in the story.
Days Upon The Year
Follow the road from Pendle east
through forest, moss and moor
when overworld's portal hangs agape
in the days upon the year,
So many lonely travellers
have passed that way before
and met a vengeful spirit there
in the days upon the year.
In the valley by Wycoller
where mist hangs like a caul
you will hear ancient voices sing
as darkness starts to fall.
An old bridge spans the river there,
only a fool, the stories say,
would cross its span upon these nights
when the dark ones are set free.
From the shadows steps a woman,
her head shrouded by a veil.
She begged me stay a while and listen
as she told her tragic tale.
On one arm she held a basket
covered by a linen sheet
and her head was coyly lowered.
Did she practice some deceit?
Though I tried to sidestep past her
or turn away to leave
she called me with my given name,
pale fingers caught my sleeve.
Then she gently brushed my forehead:
Her soothing voice intoxicates,
men are trapped in her enchantment;
he is lost who hesitates.
She told me of two young lovers
who met in the darkness here
and made their plan to find freedom
in the days upon the year,
A young maid, the only daughter
of a stern faced puritan
and a boy whose noble family
bowed to the church of Rome.
The pair met here by the river
when the mist hung like a shroud
but as they kissed she told a secret.
He recoiled and cursed aloud.
Backing away he accused her
of bringing him to shame,
the bastard child he'd got on her
would stain his family's name.
She said "I have my father's silver,
who cares for reputation,
we will travel to the Virginias
and there will have high station."
"I care not for you nor your child,
you gave yourself too easily,
a harlot's love is worth nothing
but honour demands high fee."
Drawing his sword he pierced her heart
and took the silver coin.
Lastly he hacked off her head
hoping to conceal his crime.
And while the blood flowed from those wounds
he lifted the body high,
threw it down into dark waters
and quickly rode away.
"My father cursed my soul," she says,
"I am damned by my falsehood
until I can find one man who has
never betrayed his love."
She lifted up her hooded head,
no face was hidden by that cowl
only an abysmal darkness.
From the void a banshee howl.
Lifting back the basket's cover
she showed what lay within
And then I knew this creature for
the embodiment of sin.
A lovely head lay on a pillow,
golden hair stained red with blood,
dead eyes opened, blue as sapphires,
the mouth a pink rosebud.
She threw back her cloak revealing
the wound where once her neck
rested on pale, slender shoulders.
The dead called me from the beck.
Demonic arms embraced my waist
and bore me to the edge
and the voices of the dead called out
from darkness below the bridge.
She held me over that dark water,
asked; and I denied betrayal,
"he lies, he lies," the voices cried
and the dead hands let me fall.
All men sometime betray a love
when the passion first abates
but in the days upon the year
an avenging spirit waits.
Copyright © 2004, Ian Thorpe
Notes: The story is cobbled together from three local legends, The Headless Hag of Grane, the Haunted Bridge (which is not actually at Wycoller but Mytton which does not scan) and The Grey Lady of Salmesbury. I added the gothic ending as a bit of spice.
The Days Upon The Year is a very ancient legend. A logical mindset may have wondered why there are 360 degrees of longitude and 365 days in a year. It was not always so, something happened in pre - history that added five and a quarter days to the earth's orbit. To the ancients these five days were the time in which the Gods were born and at this time of year the barriers between the physical world and other dimensions is open. Old religions saw this not as unholy but as a time for partying, crazy behaviour and unconstrained shagging. The festivities were presided over by the Lord of Misrule and as normal order was suspended a lot of June / July babies looked nothing like the men who ought to be their fathers
The Overworld is again a reference to the older religion which has no concept of hell. The physical world is the lowest level of existence and therefore the underworld.
Beck is an ancient North of England word for a small river or creek
A caul is the membrane in which a foetus is contained. It has all sorts of mystical assoiations which is why I used it here (apart from the fact that it rhymed of course.)
'ee were such a lovely corpse
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|Reviewed by Theresa Koch
|Reviewed by Peter Paton
|You do the macabre and horror par excellence Nordette...
|Reviewed by A PAX
Nordetter sent me! LOL......glad I stayed....u hardly post anymore Ian!
this is great......poem of poems......I loved this....spooky delight......and done so well!!!!!!! Wish i wrote it!!!
and that explanation at the end........
Is that something like the Beltane fires and rites??
|Reviewed by Ted Sheridan (Reader)
|I built up a sweat just reading this one.|
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
GAD this one is a chiller and will definately be read at the halloween parties. most enthralling verse draws the reader in and will. not. let. go. LOVE IT
(((HUGS))) and happy boo day to you, dear (((friend))), love, karla. :)
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|Soul-gripping tale told in verse, Ian. Thank you. Love and peace. Regis|
|Reviewed by La Belle Rouge (Reader)
|Quite a wonderous and chilling tale. Well done Ian, held my interest from beginning to end.|
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|A horrific blockbuster, indeed. Truly enjoyed this dark dark tale, Ian.
And Nordette, thanks for the diabolical switch.
|Reviewed by Ed Matlack
|Okay, okay, I get it, never will I date another other than my one true love...scary stuff with a moral, enjoyed this...Ed & rufuz|
|Reviewed by Nordette Adams
|Whoa! What a bi-atch! All that drama just because a man didn't want her and so he did her in. ;-) Honestly, some women just complain for all eternity. Muuwhahahahahaha! Excellently penned, my good fellow. Gorgeously gory. A howlingly fantastic haunt.
|Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
|Hauntingly Good Ian!!
|Reviewed by Zenith Elliott
|alrighty Ian, since you've managed to scare the crap out of me...No more soup for you! lol Seriously, You are a master story teller...outstanding tale! ~Z~|
|Reviewed by Sherry Heim
|A true "Blockbuster," indeed, Ian. This is excellent storytelling and the fact that you managed to make it rhyme is even more amazing. An fabulous for The Halloween. Scary, captivating and spicy.
|Reviewed by Judy Lloyd (Reader)
|Now this is a true haunting tale. Very good and scared me.|