Skip to main content

D is for...

...Danse Macabre

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?
---Edgar Allan Poe

The King

Please to enjoy a little light music with your readings...

The Danse Macabre---The Dance of Death--- what morbidly themed A-Z blog would be complete without it? Of course this ties in neatly with my "A" post, A is for Alphabet, as Herr Hans Holbein was gracious enough to gift us with The Dance of Death Alphabet (which I am unashamedly using daily to decorate each post. Danke, Herr Holbein). 

The ultimate meaning behind this medieval art genre is the universality of death. We are all equal in the grave or something like that. Some of the earliest known painted scenes of The Danse Macabre date back to the
early 1400s-- in Paris' Church of the Holy Innocents cemetery. The horrors of life during this time, famines, the Hundred Years War, the Black Plague, all served as a stark reminder that death is ever-present and wholly unforgiving.

Popular frescoes spread through Europe, with scenes including images of Death heading a round dance, or with lines of dancers alternating living and dead figures. There were also variations of the legend of The Three Living and The Three Dead---- where three young men, whether out on a hunt or walking, come across three corpses who stop the young men to warn them---- (Quod fuimus, estis; quod sumus, vos eritis....What we were, you are; what we are, you will be).

Such constant awareness that death was literally at your shoulder caused not only a desire for penitence but also a need for an entertaining relief---thus the birth of the morbid allegory, the last dance. 

Short dialogue plays, alternating lines between Death and his victims cropped up throughout Germany and Spain shortly after the Black Plague's decimation. With so many people falling victim everyday, is it any wonder that those remaining would seek solace? relief? amusement? in the very thing that they were most afraid of?

I personally find that a little amusement in the face of daily tragedies is the only way to stay sane, sometimes---or, at least, to appear sane. 

And, as solemn and morbid as the idea of death is, it hasn't stopped us from creating even more entertaining Danse Macabre art and I rather doubt it ever will. 



  1. love the skeleton dance at the end awesome!

    1. I couldn't not include the skeleton dance :-)

  2. Visiting you on the the 4th day of the #challenge. Looking for fellow writers and here you are.I know you don't want to read this, but this beautiful blog presentation is hard to read.The font color on black is difficult. We're all hoping to make new blogging friends so if you have time or interest, I'm writing about gardening and related things this month. I would love your feedback too. Come and see me. Have fun.

    1. Ah, yes, I wondered if the contrast would be difficult for some to read--- luckily my blog changes quite frequently...
      Thanks for stopping by :-)

  3. Great post and glad you're keeping up with the alphabetical challenge! Particularly enjoyed the music while I was reading.

    1. Thanks! And, yes, Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre is a wonderful piece of music...glad you liked it :-)

  4. A morbid A to Z theme? I'm in the right place. Awesome post! :)

    1. Thanks much!! And, yep, the morbid-er the better--- :-)


Post a Comment

Share your thoughts!

Popular posts from this blog

Y is for Yeth Hound.....

Yeth Hound--- one of the incarnations of the "Black Dog" myth, this one located specifically, in Devon, England.

"Black Dogs" appear in myths across the world, most are associated with death and bad omens... i.e. Hell Hounds.

The Yeth Hound is said to be the spirit of an unbaptised child that takes the form of a headless black dog. The Hound wanders the woods at night making pitiful wailing sounds (though, I'm unclear as to how it makes wailing sounds without having a head).

The Black Dogs were possibly one inspiration from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ghost dog in The Hound of the Baskervilles-- "an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen."

Heed Not, the Lonesome Cry
Heed not, the lonesome cry, the baleful wail echoing through the woods. Seek not, the black hound's sigh, look not where the headless creature stood.
One sound, your limbs will shake, your heart filled with the deepest dread. One glimpse, your sou…

B is for Banshee.....

Irish bean sidhe and Scottish Gaelic bean sith, literally, woman of fairyland.

The mythology and legend surrounding the Banshee is a bit mixed. The most readily accepted story is of a hag-like creature wailing the impending death of someone nearby-- most ancient Gaelic families, especially the more well-to-do families, had their own Banshees that attached themselves to the lineage of the family name. I suppose it was a sign of station for a family to be able to claim their own Banshee--- I mean, who needs an exciting/ tongue-wagging-inciting skeleton in your cupboard when you've got a Banshee wailing in your rafters?
The origins of the more familiar Banshee may have stemmed from the ancient Keeners-- women who were employed to sing a lament at a funeral. The best Keeners were in high demand to "wail" and "weep" for the great personage who had fallen.

The Great families would boast a bean sidhe or bean sith-- a fairy-woman Keener--and having foresight, the Keene…

S is for Siren.....

Sirens--- the beautiful, the terrifying.
Vicious, but, seemingly opportunistic creatures who lured sailors to their deaths by the sound of their captivating songs. Whether the stories of these creatures were a result of surviving sailors attempting to explain their near-miss in an effort to divert the fault of their shipwreck from their hands, or whether as a warning for those leaving to ensure their fidelity to the women they left behind, is unclear...

Considered the daughters of Achelous(river god), and though they have been blamed for the death of many sailors, they were not, however, sea deities. They have sometimes been called Muses of the lower world, their sad song causing the body and soul of those sailors who hear them to fall into a fatal lethargy.

In early myths, Sirens were the combined form of birds and women. Sometimes with a large female head, their bodies covered in bird feathers, their feet...scaled. Later myths show them as female figures with the legs of birds, tho…