“The Dance of Death” by Michael Wolgemut (1493).
La Danse Macabre
Gather ye ’round the graves tonight,
For we shall dance in sweet remembrance
We, the departed, worm-riddled, and decay’d,
Who patiently lie in wait for our descendants.
The drums of the Earth beat rhythm into the night,
And by that solemn tempo are we guided
O’er grassy knoll and o’er the bitter soil,
Where for ages our ancestors have resided.
Until the cock crows the coming of the morn,
We dance in our blackened reverie,
As the moon recedes and the sun ascends,
Then is a new day birthed from ancient history.
This essay was originally posted on Lunch.com in an abridged review format on October 26, 2009.
How did one of the most violent tyrants in history help to inspire the most legendary of fictional villains? Well, to answer that question, one must examine not only Bram Stoker‘s Gothic horror novel, but also the terrible and fascinating history of Roumania’s most famous prince. There are so many influences and inspirations that went into the character of Count Dracula and not all of them are well-known. Today, Stoker’s vampiric villain is now a cultural icon and he has undergone many changes, some of which are barely noticeable and others that radically contradict the original character that Stoker invented. Indeed, Count Dracula must be undead for his image and his legacy never seem to die.