Beset by snake-demoness Geraldine, abandoned to her fate 200 years ago by that confused and cruel Mr Coleridge in some opium-dazed nightmare – is she doomed to languish forever in a ghastly limbo, howling for her demon lover? What did bard Bracy’s dream of an emerald-green snake betoken? Why did Christabel’s sire, Sir Leoline of Langdale Hall, and his bosom companion, Sir Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine Castle – that castle nigh on Hadrian’s Wall ‘which stands and threatens Scotland’s wastes’ – why did they fall out? Tryermaine Castle, now Triermain Castle, still stands today, oh yes it does. I’ve been there, seen it, done it, got the stone to show it.
During a residency some years back with the Quantocks AONB (the people who look after these haunted hills) I encountered Christabel at midnight at the winter equinox at the Lady Well spring which emerges from between the roots of an ash tree ‘neath Dowsborough Iron Age Fort. She implored me to release her from her bondage. What could I do? What could I not do? I listened to her, and to all of Mr Coleridge Esq’s cast of characters … and let them dictate to me what became of them.
The resulting epic Gothic ballad I have called CHRISTABEL RELEASED. It contains all of Coleridge’s original text (he wrote 2 parts and ‘a Conclusion’; I have split his 2 parts into 4 and stuck my conclusion at the end, where it belongs), to make up 28% of Christabel Released, the rest – in 16 Parts – being my own original work, making up the rest (72%)
Brighter then, and brighter as it seemed / Shone the spectre, as Geraldine screamed: / ‘Mercy, have mercy upon me, mother mild, / ‘T was not my wish to besiege thy child!’ / ‘Then whose, demon-stock?’ Set forth the mother: / ‘Doth the succubus have father, sister, brother? / Art thou witch, warlock, devil’s sporn? / In which measureless cavern wast thou born? / In which savage place, devil haunted? / Out of which hag’s unclean womb wast enchanted? Speak!’
COMPLETE AUDIO RECORDING OF ‘CHRISTABEL-RELEASED’ AVAILABLE ON BANDCAMP HERE