Happy Hallowe’en! Andrew Lang’s own illustrated copy of “Ballade of a choice of ghosts”

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Here’s a Hallowe’en treat from Special Collections at St Andrews!

Featured below is the manuscript poem for Andrew Lang‘s “Ballade of a choice of ghosts” with artwork by Harry Furniss. This item is from the manuscript collection of Roger Lancelyn Green held by the University of St Andrews. The final print first appeared in the 1885-1886 issue of The Magazine of Art. This is just one of many treasures that will be discussed in Thursday’s day conference on Andrew Lang.

Andrew Lang’s manuscript copy of his “Ballade of a choice of ghosts” illustrated by Harry Furniss, from the Manuscript Collection at the University of St Andrews Library.

The poem is transcribed below:

Ballade of a choice of ghosts

Now which are you anxious to see,

A Bogie, a Sprite, or a Gnome?

If a Spectre should drop in to tea,

Would you like him to find us at home?

Or a Mermaid with mirror and comb;

In her have you plenary faith?

Or a lemur of classical Rome

Or a common respectable Wraith?

There’s the Vampire, or a Broukolakî,

From his grave in old Greece hath he clomb

But perhaps he might bite us, and we

Should be forced in his fashion to roam;

Or a djinn from a mussulman dome –

He might work such unlimited scathe

That we’d all turn as yellow as chrome –

Or a common respectable Wraith!

From the Ghost of our youth would you flee,

In his shroud that is dabbled with loam?

Or a faithful ancestral Banshee?

Or a martyr from some catacomb?

Or a Wizard with magical lome,

Whom his cerements becomingly swathe?

Or a Wili as fair as the foam?

Or a common respectable Wraith?


Oh, the gloaming’s beginning to gloam,

And (if Scotch is allowed) I am “laith”

To encounter a Bogie or Gnome,

Or a common respectable Wraith!

-Andrew Lang


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2 thoughts on "Happy Hallowe’en! Andrew Lang’s own illustrated copy of “Ballade of a choice of ghosts”"

  • Duncan McAra
    Duncan McAra
    Wednesday 31 October 2012, 11.26am

    Always pleased to get the latest "post" from the "Vault". But Hallowe'en has an apostrophe, as any Bejant knows. Duncan McAra

    • St Andrews Special Collections
      St Andrews Special Collections
      Wednesday 31 October 2012, 11.32am

      Thanks Duncan, we've changed it on your suggestion!


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