Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Revenant - for Magpie Tales No. 82

The Revenant, Andrew Wyeth, 1949
Self Portrait
Magpie Tales:Mag 82 
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Wiki says: "A Revenant is a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living. The word "revenant" is derived from the Latin word, revenans, "returning", from the verb "revenire"; in French, "revenant" means "coming back", from the verb "revenir", meaning "to come back".

"Belief in revenants lies beneath the universal rituals for propitiating the dead, to keep them in their place. Vivid stories of revenants arose in Western Europe (especially Great Britain, and were later carried by Anglo-Norman invaders to Ireland) during the High Middle Ages. Though later legend and folklore depicts revenants as returning for a specific purpose (e.g., revenge against the deceased's killer), in most Medieval accounts they return to harass their surviving families and neighbours. Revenants share a number of characteristics with folkloric vampires. Many stories were documented by English historians in the Middle Ages. William of Newburgh wrote in the 1190s, "one would not easily believe that corpses come out of their graves and wander around, animated by some evil spirit, to terrorize or harm the living, unless there were many cases in our times, supported by ample testimony".

"Stories of revenants were very personal, always about a specific individual who had recently died (unlike the anonymous zombie depicted in modern popular culture), and had a number of common features.

Medieval stories of revenants have common features. Those who return from the dead are wrongdoers in their lifetime, often described as wicked, vain or unbelievers. Often the revenants are associated with the spreading of disease among the living. The appropriate response is usually exhumation, followed by some form of decapitation, and burning or removal of the heart.

"Several stories imply that sucking of blood has occurred. Because of this, revenants have sometimes been described as "vampires" by a number of authors of popular books about vampire legends, starting with Montague Summers. Medievalists are, however, largely skeptical towards this interpretation, possibly because vampire legends are believed to have originated in Eastern European folklore and became known to the Western public only later through reports coming from the East in the 18th century. Vampires do not appear in Western fiction (with modifications) until the late 18th century and early 19th century, starting with authors such as Robert Southey, Lord Byron and John William Polidori. However, anthropologists and folklorists tend to blur distinctions between the various forms of "walking dead", for which counterparts exist in the myths and legends of nearly every civilization dating back to earliest history."

The Revenant

It is just like you
to think you can wear all white
as if from the dead,
coming back to tell
me what's what on the other
side of the divide.

You sneaking around
setting chairs to their rocking,
squeaking in corners,
all that ghost stuff plumb
wears me out and then you show
right in front of me
and the whispers rise
around us as if there are
crowds of you nearby.

I'm fit to be tied.

Written September 11, 2011   10:54 AM


  1. I liked the words "as if there are crowds of you nearby." Sometimes, I feel haunted by people and memories of the past - you put it well.

  2. Thanks for the info... I took the picture out of context and my poem is so different than yours. That's what I love about pic prompts.

  3. Ooh, reading your poem I got the feeling I've heard the same words before. Spooky. Very spooky, but, somehow, not scary.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  4. i love the post and i love the explanation on top... another word for me...



  5. Oh this was was your short essay
    still...the painting is creepy
    interesting that it is a self portrait of the artist
    loved your poem

  6. All that ghost stuff, indeed. Willow Manor is haunted, by the way.

  7. I'm fit to be tied. What an ending!

  8. Very good, creative take on the prompt.

  9. I really enjoyed both your explanation of the word, and the final stanza of your poem, not to mention the rocking chair! :)

  10. Very informative. Thank you. And, a very nice poem as well ...

  11. Thank you all. I hope you realize that the writing on "revenant" is not my writing. I tried to follow the convention of using quotes to identify what is not mine. I preceded it with "Wiki says:" so you all would know to check out Wikipedia if you want. I depend on Wikipedia quite a bit.

  12. Apparently, Tess, your ghosts are benign. I think the benign haunt is much more common than the malevolent one.

  13. there is a rural lilt to your line that sings to me of openness - sea shore, woods, valleys - or maybe I am projecting something of Arcadia myself? - whatever, I enjoyed your poem very much

  14. nice bit of intel on the prompt there in the beginning...really nice...and your is the crowd of whispers that i find prickles my skin the most...

  15. Love the peom - and love that you provided the background - it is fascinating where these lores come from

  16. The "It is just like you" changes the entire tone of the poem (not in a bad way, just gives it a different feel than it would have otherwise). Spanish culture has some really interesting ideas about revenants... watch Volver if you haven't, or read 100 Years of Solitude. The dead can be just as exasperating, flippant, and boring as the living.

  17. A rural lilt...thank you for that, and thank you all for liking the Wiki material. I thought it was interesting too.

    Joseph, thank you for that. That phrase was not tagged on at the end, it was the start of the poem as I began it. I often have some phrase or other. I like colloquial phrases as you may have gathered by now. They allow a lightness to enter the poetry. I have written heavy stuff for decades.

  18. A ghostly image prompts a poem with a supernatural air. Old loves do haunt us for life, it seems...

  19. a dark figure, a brilliant mind,
    keep it up.

  20. Hohoho,

    What charming poetry you have posted here.

    Invite you to share 1 to 3 poems with us, anything could fit the theme of object,

    Hope to see you in.

    Happy Writing..


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