phantasmagoria

by Folkswitch

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about

On Witches, Fairies, Ghouls and Goblins ...

ON JUNE 16th, 1816, Lord Byron opened a book titled Phantasmagoriana, which he and his house guests took turns reading from. From that night came Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and John Polidori's The Vampyre, considered the first English vampire novel, and the precursor to Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Drawing from that idea, herein lies poems from Shakespeare, Yeats, Spenser, Kipling, Ben Johnson and others, set to music. Musical influences range from British folk and Irish traditional, to Black Sabbath, King Crimson and Jethro Tull.

From the fairies who ride wild in the moonlight, to the danse macabre, it's a look back at a time when people weren't so certain, weren't so brave as to believe that what we see with our eyes is all there is. And told in the words of some of the greatest lyricists of their day.

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released April 29, 2016

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Folkswitch

An experiment in new ways of presenting music.

Folk songs, the words of the romantic poets, traditional music, acid rock, garage prog, front porch folk ... we do it cause we want to.

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Track Name: The Fairy Pedant by W.B. Yeats
The Fairy Pedant
William Butler Yeats

Scene: A circle of Druidic stones

First Fairy: Afar from our lawn and our levee,
O sister of sorrowful gaze!
Where the roses in scarlet are heavy
And dream of the end of their days,
You move in another dominion
And hang o'er the historied stone:
Unpruned in your beautiful pinion
Who wander and whisper alone.

All: Come away while the moon's in the woodland,
We'll dance and then feast in a dairy.
Though youngest of all in our good band,
You are wasting away, little fairy.

Second Fairy: Ah! cruel ones, leave me alone now
While I murmur a little and ponder
The history here in the stone now;
Then away and away I will wander,
And measure the minds of the flowers,
And gaze on the meadow-mice wary,
And number their days and their hours--

All: You're wasting away, little fairy.

Second Fairy: O shining ones, lightly with song pass,
Ah! leave me, I pray you and beg.
My mother drew forth from the long grass
A piece of a nightingle's egg,
And cradled me here where are sung,
Of birds even, longings for aery
Wild wisdoms of spirit and tongue.

All: You're wasting away, little fairy.

First Fairy [turning away]: Though the tenderest roses were round you,
The soul of this pitiless place
With pitiless magic has bound you--
Ah! woe for the loss of your face,
And the loss of your laugh with its lightness--
Ah! woe for your wings and your head--
Ah! woe for your eyes and their brightness--
Ah! woe for your slippers of red.

We'll dance and then feast in a dairy.
Though youngest of all in our good band,
She's wasting away, little fairy.
Track Name: Watcher In The Woods by Dora Sigerson Shorter, 1906
Deep in the wood's recesses cool
I see the fairy dancers glide,
In cloth of gold, in gown of green,
My lord and lady side by side.

But who has hung from leaf to leaf,
From flower to flower, a silken twine-
A cloud of grey that holds the dew
In globes of clear enchanted wine?

Or stretches far from branch to branch,
From thorn to thorn, in diamond rain?
Who caught the cup of crystal pure
And hung so fair the shining chain?

'Tis death, the spider, in his net,
Who lures the dancers as they glide,
In cloth of gold, in gown of green,
My lord and lady side by side.
Track Name: Queen of the Haunted Dell by M.V. Ingram, 1894
Queen of the Haunted Dell
by M.V. Ingram (1840-1912)

'Mid woodland bowers, grassy dell,
By an enchanted murmuring stream,
Dwelt pretty blue-eyed Betsy Bell,
Sweetly thrilled with love's young dream.

Life was like the magic spell,
That guides a laughing stream,
Sunbeams glimmering on her fell,
Kissed by lunar's silvery gleam.

But elfin phantomas cursed the dell,
And sylvan witches all unsean,
As our tale will truely tell,
Wielded sceptre o're the queen.
Track Name: The Sands of Dee by Charles Kingsley, 1849
The Sands of Dee (from Alton Locke)

By Charles Kingsley (1819–1875)

‘O MARY, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
Across the sands o’ Dee;’
The western wind was wild and dank wi’ foam,
And all alone went she.

The creeping tide came up along the sand,
And o’er and o’er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see;
The blinding mist came down and hid the land—
And never home came she.

‘Oh, is it weed, or fish, or floating hair—
A tress o’ golden hair,
O’ drownèd maiden’s hair,
Above the nets at sea?
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair,
Among the stakes on Dee.’

They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel, crawling foam,
The cruel, hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea;
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home,
Across the sands o’ Dee.
Track Name: The Eggshell by Rudyard Kipling, 1904
The Egg Shell

By Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

The wind took off with the sunset—
The fog came up with the tide,
When the Witch of the North took an Egg-shell
With a little Blue Devil inside.
“Sink,” she said, “or swim,” she said,
“It’s all you will get from me.
And that is the finish of him!” she said,
And the Egg-shell went to sea.

The wind fell dead with the midnight—
The fog shut down like a sheet,
When the Witch of the North heard the Egg-shell
Feeling by hand for a fleet.
“Get!” she said, “or you’re gone,” she said,
But the little Blue Devil said “No!”
“The sights are just coming on,” he said,
And he let the Whitehead go.

The wind got up with the morning—
The fog blew off with the rain,
When the Witch of the North saw the Egg-shell
And the little Blue Devil again.
“Did you swim?” she said. “Did you sink?” she said,
And the little Blue Devil replied:
“For myself I swam, but I think,” he said,
“There’s somebody sinking outside.”
Track Name: The Listeners by Walter de la Mare, 1912
The Listeners

By Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest's ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.
Track Name: Midnight by James Russell Lowell, 1842
Midnight

by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

The moon shines white and silent
On the mist, which, like a tide
Of some enchanted ocean,
O'er the wide marsh doth glide,
Spreading its ghost-like billows
Silently far and wide.

A vague and starry magic
Makes all things mysteries,
And lures the earth's dumb spirit
Up to the longing skies:
I seem to hear dim whispers,
And tremulous replies.

The fireflies o'er the meadow
In pulses come and go;
The elm-trees' heavy shadow
Weighs on the grass below;
And faintly from the distance
The dreaming cock doth crow.

All things look strange and mystic,
The very bushes swell
And take wild shapes and motions,
As if beneath a spell;
They seem not the same lilacs
From childhood known so well.

The snow of deepest silence
O'er everything doth fall,
So beautiful and quiet,
And yet so like a pall;
As if all life were ended,
And rest were come to all.

O wild and wondrous midnight,
There is a might in thee
To make the charmed body
Almost like spirit be,
And give it some faint glimpses
Of immortality!
Track Name: The Witches' Song by Ben Jonson, 1609
The Witches' Song, from Masque of Queens

Ben Johnson (1572-1637)



1 WITCH.

"I HAVE been all day looking after
A raven feeding upon a quarter:
And, soone as she turn'd her beak to the south,
I snatch'd this morsell out of her mouth."

2 WITCH.

"I have beene gathering wolves haires,
The madd dogges foames, and adders eares;
The spurging of a dead man's eyes:
And all since the evening starre did rise."

3 WITCH.

"I last night lay all alone
O' the ground, to heare the mandrake grone;
And pluckt him up, though he grew full low:
And, as I had done, the cocke did crow."

4 WITCH.

"And I ha' beene chusing out this scull
From charnell houses that were full;
From private grots, and publike pits:
And frighted a sexton out of his wits."

5 WITCH.

"Under a cradle I did crepe
By day; and, when the childe was a-sleepe
At night, I suck'd the breath; and rose,
And pluck'd the nodding nurse by the nose.

6 WITCH.

"I had a dagger: what did I with that?
Killed an infant to have his fat.
A piper it got at a church-ale.
I bade him again blow wind i' the taile."

7 WITCH.

"A murderer yonder was hung in chaines;
The sunne and the wind had shrunke his veins:
I bit off a sinew; I clipp'd his haire;
I brought off his ragges, that danc'd i' the ayre."

8 WITCH.

"The scrich-owles egges and the feathers blacke,
The bloud of the frogge, and the bone in his backe
I have been getting; and made of his skin
A purset, to keepe Sir Cranion in."

9 WITCH.

"And I ha' beene plucking (plants among)
Hemlock, henbane, adders-tongue,
Night-shade, moone-wort, libbards-bane;
And twise by the dogges was like to be tane."

10 WITCH.

"I from the jaw's of a gardiner's bitch
Did snatch these bones, and then leap'd the ditch:
Yet went I back to the house againe,
Kill'd the blacke cat, and here is the braine."

11 WITCH.

"I went to the toad, breedes under the wall,
I charmed him out, and he came at my call;
I scratch'd out the eyes of the owle before;
I tore the batts wing: what would you have more?"

DAME.

"Yes: I have brought, to helpe your vows,
Horned poppie, cypresse boughes,
The fig-tree wild, that grows on tombes,
And juice, that from the larch-tree comes,
The basiliskes bloud, and the vipers skin:--
And now our orgies let's begin."
Track Name: Act IV Scene I (The Witches Song) from the Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, 1606
From the Tragedy of Macbeth

by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

ACT IV SCENE I A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches]
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.
Harpier cries ‘Tis time, ’tis time.

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble; 10
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Second Witch Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe 30
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i’ the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Track Name: Excerpts from William Shakespeare's "A Misummer's Night Dream," 1595-96
From A Misummer's Night Dream
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Now the hungry lion roars
And the wolf behowls the moon,
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.

Over hill, over dale,
Through bush, through briar,
Over park, over pale,
Through blood, through fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moone’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.

Now it is the time of night
That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,

Now are frolic: not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.
Through the house give gathering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly.

First, rehearse your song by rote
To each word a warbling note:
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.
Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:

And, as I am an honest Puck,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

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