Retconning the Recitation
“Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the moon is full and bright.”
Everybody knows that old chestnut. It first appeared in the 17th Century in a treatise on witchcraft written by a clergyman named Wilhem Krauher. It has often been repeated since. In fact I would argue that it is one of the most recognized poems in the world.
Okay, okay, I’m kidding. You’re right. Curt Siodmak made up that quatrain when he wrote 1941’s THE WOLFMAN (nee THE WOLF MAN). You’re right. Right?
Actually, you’re not. The poem reproduced above is the *altered* version. The poem in its *original* form reads: “Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.” So why’d they change it? Because they wanted to make use of the full moon trope. It wasn’t until the movie’s sequel, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, that the full moon became a necessary catalyst for a lycanthrope’s transformation into a beast. Siodmak made that up, too.
Think about it: if your protagonist can only transform during one season of the year, it really limits your storytelling abilities.
Also note that the infamous plant is here spelled “wolfbane” and not “wolf’s bane” or “wolfsbane.” Any of the three is correct, but it was originally “wolfbane.”
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!