Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Phantom Ballad for July

On a summer ramble, we stop by an old cemetery to take some photos, and in the midst of all the decay and sense of abandonment, there's fresh flowers on a very old grave.

We continue on our way, curious about the who and why of the discovery, and then on the radio this song arises unexpectedly...

Feeling a sense of foreboding and of unfinished business, we swing by there again later in the day on our way to dinner. The flowers are still there, but now we can make out heavy footprints leading to the grave from the entrance, and that lead away...and suddenly stop. And the grave itself is over a century old.

We feel a cold chill and run back to the car...

"The Unquiet Grave" is an ancient ballad, thought to date back to 1400. The basic interpretation is that of a man mourning for his lost love, only to have her ghost tell him that his excessive mourning is keeping her from moving on, and that he should enjoy his life while he has it. I've seen some making a case for the singer having murdered his love (although there's scant reason to see that from my viewpoint) and some others have claimed connections to witchcraft (even more tenuous).

I settled on this video as a default; I couldn't find something that exactly matched my preference (acoustic, unenhanced audio) but this one has some nice imagery so I went for it. Long ago I heard a version, done as a duet, with harp and guitar accompaniment, but it's unavailable now.

July brings all sorts of wildness....

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