Der Vampir

May 8, 2009 at 1:00 am (Classical Vampire Literature, Vampires around the World) (, , )

We tend to think that Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897,
was the first vampire story. It wasn’t!

What is generally considered the first fictional work is a poem
The Vampire or Der Vampir by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, published in 1748.

I’m sure that it is a better poem if read in the original language, but here is an English translation.

“Der Vampir”
by: Heinrich August Ossenfelder

My dear young maiden clingeth
Unbending, fast and firm
To all the long-held teaching
Of a mother ever true;
As in vampires unmortal
Folk on the Theyse’s portal *
Heyduck-like do believe. **
But my Christine thou dost dally,
And wilt my loving parry
Till I myself avenging
To a vampire’s health a-drinking
Him toast in pale tockay. ***

And as softly thou art sleeping
To thee shall I come creeping
And thy life’s blood drain away.
And so shalt thou be trembling
For thus shall I be kissing
And death’s threshold thou’ it be crossing
With fear, in my cold arms.
And last shall I thee question
Compared to such instruction
What are a mother’s charms?

* Theyse (Tisza): it is the second biggest river in Hungary —
the biggest is the Danube.

** Heyduck: a semimilitary official of seventeenth and eighteenth
century Hungary.

*** Tokay: a well known type of Hungarian wine.

If you are finding it as confusing as I did, perhaps reading Leslie Ormandy’s explanation of the poem would be helpful.

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