by Dusty Grein
A Horror Tale in Metered Rhyme
The tale of Greymoor Hall was crafted in one of the more difficult English forms, the CHANT ROYAL. This long poetry form is suited to epic tales in many different genres, including horror.
The form use just five rhyming sounds across a 60 line length, and this particular poem is an example of the double-refrained version of the chant royal. The meter I chose to craft in is a a rarely used one with a difficult name (tertius paeonic catalectic), but a smooth and easy beat. Its [one, two, THREE, four] meter gives it a very waltz-like feel.
This poem is about doomed love, lost innocence, demonic laughter, and a haunted manor. It was inspired by one of my favorite authors, Shirley Jackson; her short story masterpiece remains one of the best haunted house tales of all time . . . but unlike Hill House, whatever roams the environs of Greymoor Hall, doesn’t do so alone.
An Audio Rendition
Greymoor Hall is one of my favorite pieces, so I decided to record an audio version. I am by no means a trained voice actor, but I know the emotion I tried to bring out when I wrote it, and hopefully this track does it justice. Feel free to play it and read along, and let me know what you think.
Dust lies thick in empty hallways; as the light begins to fade
chill wind swirls down ancient chimneys, cold and dry as brittle bone.
The old mansion lies uneasy, knowing dues must still be paid.
Even though there is no movement in its rooms it’s not alone,
for the restless souls who died here have been trapped and still remain
and the house, once filled with laughter, has grown evil and insane;
now no happiness is found here—only anguish, fear, and pain.
In the attic is a nursery, used by little ones no more,
where abandoned in one corner, sits a broken china doll;
while the bowels of the building hold a pit in earthen floor.
From this well without a bottom,comes the curse of Greymoor Hall.
In the days before the curse fell, when the house was newly made—
standing strong against the weather, its foundation solid stone—
there was light and there was laughter, and here children gaily played.
Often music could be heard, as peaceful moonlight sweetly shone,
every season was spent happy in the sun, and snow, and rain
but the house, once filled with love, has now completely gone insane,
for its memories of those years, although skewed, are yet retained.
It remembers distant yesterdays, bright waves upon a shore,
but an evil and dark undertow has clouded its recall.
The despair of hope abandoned is a throaty distant roar
from the well without a bottom, in the heart of Greymoor Hall.
In those days beautiful Anna was a sweet and buxom maid,
but her love for young Paul Greymoor meant the seeds of death were sown,
for she gave to him her flower—in the basement dirt they laid.
There, the final drop of virgin blood was spilled with breathy moans,
and her sacrifice of innocence, into the well did drain.
Soon the house was filled with screaming and the sound drove it insane,
as the duct-work rang with echoes and the walls with ichor stained.
Bittersweet, her loss of purity had opened up a door;
in the depths of Hell a demon turned its head toward her blood’s call
on its face it wore an evil grin, as if it knew the score.
From the well without a bottom, it climbed into Greymoor Hall.
These young lovers were the first two upon whom the demon preyed,
and their ravaged bodies, still alive, into the pit were thrown
ere the monster threw its head back, laughing vile cannonades,
and the solid walls around it seemed to buckle and to groan.
Darkness gushed forth from the well, like blood from out an open vein;
as the house filled up with evil, all its dreams became insane
and the stench of deadly decay simply could not be contained.
Through the other living residents’ weak flesh the demon tore.
With the ending of their lives, the final barrier did fall,
these environs were inhabited by living souls no more
and the well without a bottom held full sway at Greymoor Hall.
Near a century has passed now since that unholy parade
and the grounds around the building lie weed-choked and overgrown.
Faded wallpaper sags, peeling; window coverings are frayed,
and once lustrous marble fixtures now lie shattered and flyblown.
In the ballroom jet black spiders and white maggots darkly reign,
while the basement, full of shadows, echoes laughter quite insane
and this sound which can’t be heard, is one that science can’t explain.
Faintly glowing in the moonlight are green putrid fungus spores
which reflect upon the insects who ‘cross ancient remains crawl
near the blood red evil light source which shines forth, a blighted sore
from the well without a bottom, far below old Greymoor Hall.
It is said the ghosts of Anna and Paul Greymoor, though insane
are still haunting rooms and hallways now grown wicked to the core,
and the demon they set free that day still lives within the walls;
Any humans who set foot inside, will find out what’s in store,
and the well without a bottom will be fed in Greymoor Hall.
© 2017 – Dusty Grein
Dusty Grein is the Director of Production and Design and a Managing Editor at RhetAskew Publishing. He is also a novelist, ACP accredited poet, and regular writer for the Society of Classical Poets website. Some of his favorite messages can also be found on his personal blog, From Grandpa’s Heart…