ETYMOLOGY // Supplied by an idiot tourist who / in the grip of a yearlong concussion / during which he had to learn to speak again / got it into that bruised brain / that a trek through the Carpathians might do the trick / forgetting the while the siren-call of ‘heights’ / the urge to leap / rising to crescendo / with each step up Gerlachovský štít / — formerly: Kösselberg [Cauldron Mountain]; / Kotol, [Cauldron]; / Franz Josef Spitze [after the King of Hungary and Emperor of Austria]; Szczyt Polski [Polish Peak]; / Štít legionárov [after the Czechoslovakian forces who volunteered for the Allies in WWI]; / and — harder to forget perhaps – Stalinov štít. //*

Báthory Erzsébet                    Hungarian
Alžbeta Bátoriová                   Slovak
Elizabeth Báthory                   English

EXTRACTS // Supplied by the same tourist / and prefacing a wildly ahistorical and unrepentantly anachronistic account / of the pleasures and persecutions / of she whom History accredits perhaps recklessly / as its most prolific murderess / but whom the account in question would have us reimagine / at least in part / as the victim of a hateful conspiracy / spearheaded by an obsessive incarnation / of György Thurzó / Palatine of Hungary and the true Vampyr of Oravský hrad / which would actually be more closely modelled on Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab / than on any real personage living dead or neither: //

The Countess takes her midnight bath / With blood that once gave life // — Venom, ‘Countess Bathory’ / from Black Metal (1982) // Woman of Dark Desires / Woman of Eternal Beauty // — Bathory, ‘Woman of Dark Desires’ / from Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1986) // Countess it is your night / You haunted by your wild desires / Possessed by bestial lust/ You are the goddess of the love / Oh how I love to feel your breath / I lust to be the lover of Death // — Tormentor, ‘Elisabeth Bathory’ / from Anno Domini (1988) //  Shed your blood, Oh virgins pure / To feed the wrath of Satan’s whore / You’ve been chosen to let your blood / To make the mistress live for evermore // — Countess, ‘The Wrath of Satan’s Whore’ / from Ad Maiorem Sathanae Gloriam (1995) // The dark lady of her castle / Invented the secret of everlasting youth // — Barathrum, ‘Countess Erzsebet Nadasdy’ // from Saatana (1999) // Mistress of the gloomy nights / That made thy life / A cult to pain and pleasure / An apology to blood // — Murder Rape, ‘Mistress of the Gloomy Nights’, from Evil Shall Burn Inside Me Forever (2001) // Like a silent fog / The crimson blood flows into their veins / As mortal bodies are left for dead // — Funeral Fog, Transylvanian Bloodlust’ // from Under the Black Veil (2003) // Her breath is the creeping wind / her blood is the lake’s water / her hair is the falling leaves / her mind is everything // — Angmaer, ‘The Soul of Lizbeth’ from Sorg, Trolldom, Vinter (2014) //

* I was welcomed by the mountaineers / after unwrapping quite unthinkingly a candle / moulded like the inflated bust of / the above-named Comrade / and purchased from the gift shop at Terror háza / — the imposing Headquarters first of the Arrow Cross / then of the Hungarian Communist Party / and now an attraction for us tourists / queueing patiently to lay eyes on the site of old crimes / surely not our own. //