Also said to originate from the prayer of early Medieval mothers: "Lilith, go by..." in the belief that Lilith loved stealing children or killing them in their sleep.

This seems to be a poetry node, so I think I will contribute with something that I enjoy.

W.B. Yeats

Beloved, may your sleep be sound
That have found it where you fed.
What were all the world's alarms
To mighty Paris when he found
Sleep upon a golden bed
That first dawn in Helen's arms?

Sleep, beloved, such a sleep
As did that wild Tristram know
When, the potion's work being done,
Roe could run or doe could leap
Under oak and beechen bough,
Roe could leap or doe could run;

Such a sleep and sound as fell
Upon Eurotas' grassy bank
When the holy bird, that there
Accomplished his predestined will,
From the limbs of Leda sank
But not from her protecting care.

"It makes Fight Club look like Little Women." -- Chuck Palahniuk


a novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Written by one of today's best comic nihilists, Lullaby was published by Doubleday in October of 2002. The book possesses several layers and reveals observations its author was able to discover after his own father's death. The circumstances surrounding Fred Palahniuk's death are adequately explained here. Idaho's victim's rights law allowed the surviving Mr. Palahniuk to go before the court to expound on his suffering (physical, mental, emotional or otherwise) caused by the crime. A major part of that statement would concern if Mr. Palahniuk supported the death penalty; thus were the first inklings for Lullaby born.

Lullaby is centered around the actions of newspaper reporter Carl Streator who is assigned by his paper to do an exposé on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Streator discovers a common link in his investigation. In all of the bedrooms where a baby has died there can be found a copy of the anthology Poems and Rhymes Around the World opened to the page containing an African chant refered to as a "culling song." The culling song was once used on the elderly or wounded hunters of a tribe to ease their passing. Streator comes across the shocking realization that the culling song is lethal when spoken, or even thought, in another person's direction. The song becomes lodged in Streator's brain and he seeks out real estate broker Helen Hoover Boyle, who has also lost a child to the culling song. They embark on a cross country journey, accompanied by some minor characters, with the task of removing all copies of the lethal poem before it manages to wipe out human life.1

Palahniuk explores some fresh avenues of thought in this novel. The most pertinent is the main storyline concerning the psychic infection that is the culling song. As the author aptly puts it:

"Imagine a plague you catch through your ears... imagine an idea that occupies your mind like a city." --Lullaby

Palahniuk strikes forth to personify the culling song. In his work, he gives it dimensions, he fleshes it out for the reader. He whispers of the fear that could prosper in a society with so much static and background noise that a weapon such as the culling song would thrive. He sings of the danger in wielding the song. Coupled with his blinding wit, Palahniuk pieces together a very enjoyable read.

Loose ends: Lullaby easily had the most pre-release press of any Palahniuk novel. The spelling of the title changed with each draft; originally "Lullaby" Palahniuk shortly changed it to "Lullabye" to accentuate the darker, deadier part of the book. With the third and final draft the spelling was changed back to "Lullaby" as a concession to editors, who were worried enough about the tenor of the novel's contents. The cover art was decided via a fan contest. Hundreds of art designs were sent in. The American hardcover design featured a dead bird on its back2. Alternative artwork which was not chosen is readily available for viewing at the Official Chuck Palahniuk website.

Lullaby is the fifth fictional novel by Palahniuk and his first attempt at a comedic work.

Also by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club Survivor Invisible Monsters Choke Diary Haunted

1Book jacket summary
2illustration by Judy Lanfredi


Like a lullaby, my father’s mother tells her story, stroking my hair as if I were still a child, though I am already twelve years old. It is twilight, and my older sister, in charge for the evening while my father is away, overwhelmed by my panic, has called her to calm me down. Though she lives across the street from us, this is the first time my grandmother has been into my bedroom.

Our family doesn’t talk. Our lives overlap with the family business, the farm my grandparents own, where my father works, where my uncles and aunts and cousins work, where my sister and I work. We work side by side, familiar strangers. Even in the privacy of our house, we don’t talk about what is happening, partly because we don’t know what it is.

I lie on my bed, my head on my grandmother’s lap. Her voice is rhythmic and slow. I drift in and out of sleep, out of and into her story:

She was the baby of her family.

They lived in eastern New Mexico, almost in Texas.

In Texas, her father worked on someone else’s farm. In New Mexico, he share-cropped.

Her brothers ran away one by one when they hit their teens. Her father chased them off.

My grandmother’s name was Josephine and they always called her Jo, just like we do.

They lived so far away from other people. She rode her horse for miles and still she saw no one.

She rode her horse into the fields to be alone. She got off her horse, and she sang. No one but the horse could hear her, and he didn’t mind.

The land was flat, not like our farm.

She took my dad to see the farm, when he was my age, but the farm was gone. They walked the path where the road had been. They didn’t find the house, only rattlesnakes.

The sky above my room is growing dark. Each time I open my eyes, I see less.

My grandmother’s hands are dark, brown. I don’t recognize her gestures tonight. I see her nearly daily, and we have rarely even hugged. I’ve seen her muddy hands burying the roots of tomato plants. I’ve watched her toss dinner scraps to the chickens in her yard. I’ve seen her pulling steaming jars of beans from the pressure cooker. It is a soft jolt to feel her touch on my head, on my skin. I hadn’t even noticed that I didn’t know her.

from The Book of Revelation

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lull"a*by (?), n. [From Lull, v. t. ]


A song to quiet babes or lull them to sleep; that which quiets.



Hence: Good night; good-by.




© Webster 1913.

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