Sunday, 23 January 2011

Inspirations: Riddles Wisely Expounded

Riddles Wisely Expounded

‘Now answer me these questions three,

Or you shall surely go with me.
‘Now answer me these questions six,

Or you shall surely be Old Nick’s.

‘Now answer me these questions nine,

Or you shall surely all be mine.'

Riddles Wisely Expounded is a traditional ballad from the days when story, song and dance were the only forms of entertainment. The ballad has changed and 'morphed' into all kinds of shapes and sizes but the one above was the most chilling for me.

Imagine being on a lonely road as twilight falls. You meet a stranger at the crossroads and you have to guess his riddles right or you'll be carried off to the firey pits of Hell forever!

In The Demon Collector, the demons can't resist a riddle or a wager. They trade riddles and introduce themselves with riddles, testing each other, seeking out a weakness.

Nowadays, our folk songs have become fragmented, half remembered and incorporated into children's rhymes. The sinister nature of Riddles Wisely Expounded faded and was boiled down to a love song, popularised in one version by Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair."

And demons too have become celluloid monsters, tearing and rending life from limb. Some of the demons are like that in the Demon Collector but others are, I hope, a little more subtle. Others are so infected with the sin they're meant to promote that they've become weak parodies of themselves. The demons, just like the old songs are dying.

The first review is out here