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Vampires Hidden Among Coleridge’s ‘Christabel?’

Published in 1813 is a lovely, yet haunting, poem titled Christabel. Written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christabel tells the tale of one young maiden attacked by another maiden, and it’s told in a lavish Gothic style. While vampires are never directly mentioned in the poem, it is believed by some that vampirism is indeed the theme of this classic work. It has also been said by some scholars that this poem inspired Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire story Carmilla. The poem was never completed, so it’s anyone’s guess whether or not it’s about a vampire. But I’ll let you decide.

Below is a snippet of the poem detailing the mysterious Geraldine sucking the life of Christabel as she slept. You can find the entire poem here.

The air is still! through mist and cloud
That merry peal comes ringing loud;
And Geraldine shakes off her dread,
And rises lightly from the bed;
Puts on her silken vestments white,
And tricks her hair in lovely plight,
And nothing doubting of her spell
Awakens the lady Christabel.
‘Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel?
I trust that you have rested well.’

And Christabel awoke and spied
The same who lay down by her side-
O rather say, the same whom she
Raised up beneath the old oak tree!
Nay, fairer yet! and yet more fair!
For she belike hath drunken deep
Of all the blessedness of sleep!
And while she spake, her looks, her air,
Such gentle thankfulness declare,
That (so it seemed) her girded vests
Grew tight beneath her heaving breasts.
‘Sure I have sinned!’ said Christabel,
‘Now heaven be praised if all be well!’
And in low faltering tones, yet sweet,
Did she the lofty lady greet
With such perplexity of mind
As dreams too lively leave behind.

What do you think? Is Christabel an eerie tale of vampires? Or is it something else entirely? Let us know in a comment below.

– Moonlight

ChristabelSamuel Taylor Coleridgevampire poemvampire poetry

Moonlight • August 13, 2012


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