Some Halloween Poetry On This Chilly Autumn Evening

On this chilly autumn evening, I’ve been bundled and working my way through A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past, edited by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne. You’ll find tons of great things in this book and I love Ms. Bannatyne. I can’t write poetry, and I have to work very hard at reading it. However, I do like these two, also included in Lesley’s book, and both in the public domain. I like that they were written in a time period that has really been resonating with me lately. And with 10 days till Halloween, they’re totally appropriate for putting you in the mood. 

 

All Souls (1909)

Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton

I

A THIN moon faints in the sky o’erhead,
And dumb in the churchyard lie the dead.
Walk we not, Sweet, by garden ways,
Where the late rose hangs and the phlox delays,
But forth of the gate and down the road,
Past the church and the yews, to their dim abode.
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.

II
Fear not that sound like wind in the trees:
It is only their call that comes on the breeze;
Fear not the shudder that seems to pass:
It is only the tread of their feet on the grass;
Fear not the drip of the bough as you stoop:
It is only the touch of their hands that grope–
For the year’s on the turn and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can yearn and the dead can smite.

III
And where should a man bring his sweet to woo
But here, where such hundreds were lovers too?
Where lie the dead lips that thirst to kiss,
The empty hands that their fellows miss,
Where the maid and her lover, from sere to green,
Sleep bed by bed, with the worm between?
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.

IV
And now they rise and walk in the cold,
Let us warm their blood and give youth to the old.
Let them see us and hear us, and say: “Ah, thus
In the prime of the year it went with us!”
Till their lips drawn close, and so long unkist,
Forget they are mist that mingles with mist!
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can burn and the dead can smite.

V
Till they say, as they hear us–poor dead, poor dead!–
“Just an hour of this, and our age-long bed–
Just a thrill of the old remembered pains
To kindle a flame in our frozen veins,
A touch, and a sight, and a floating apart,
As the chill of dawn strikes each phantom heart–
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.”

VI
And where should the living feel alive
But here in this wan white humming hive,
As the moon wastes down, and the dawn turns cold,
And one by one they creep back to the fold?
And where should a man hold his mate and say:
“One more, one more, ere we go their way”?
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the living can learn by the churchyard light.

VII
And how should we break faith who have seen
Those dead lips plight with the mist between,
And how forget, who have seen how soon
They lie thus chambered and cold to the moon?
How scorn, how hate, how strive, wee too,
Who must do so soon as those others do?
For it’s All Souls’ night, and break of the day,
And behold, with the light the dead are away. . .

 

Hallowe’en (1910)

John Kendrick Bangs

John Kendrick Bangs

John Kendrick Bangs

The ghosts of all things past parade, 
Emerging from the mist and shade 
That hid them from our gaze, 
And, full of song and ringing mirth, 
In one glad moment of rebirth, 
And again they walk the ways of earth 
As in the ancient days.

The beacon light shines on the hill, 
The will-o’-wisps the forests fill 
With flashes filched from noon;
And witches on their broomsticks spry 
Speed here and yonder in the sky, 
And lift their strident voices high
Unto the Hunter’s Moon.

The air resounds with tuneful notes 
From myriads of straining throats, 
All hailing Folly Queen; 
So join the swelling choral throng, 
Forget your sorrow and your wrong, 
In one glad hour of joyous song 
To honor Hallowe’en!

 

You might also like: 

The Wraith (Paranormalogistically)

“Can you help me?” I’ll never forget. (Big Séance)

Halloween Memories and Nostalgia from This Generation X-er (Big Séance)

Skin and Bones (Big Séance)

A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations (Big Séance)

Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) (Big Séance)

 

 

 

About Patrick Keller

Patrick Keller is an educator, blogger, and the host of the Big Séance Podcast, which is a place for paranerds to have an open discussion on all things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts and hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. He’s the founder of the now inactive Missouri Spirit Seekers and has spent a lot of time experimenting with spirit communication tools and techniques, such as EVP. Patrick also has a passion for spending hours at a time in cemeteries and loves cemetery photography. Visit BigSeance.com! View all posts by Patrick Keller

6 responses to “Some Halloween Poetry On This Chilly Autumn Evening

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