Saturday, September 19, 2015


One of the greatest fall/autumn, spooky or Halloween type poems is American poet E.A. Poe's "Ulalume: A Ballad":

The skies they were ashen and sober; 
      The leaves they were crispéd and sere— 
      The leaves they were withering and sere; 
It was night in the lonesome October 
      Of my most immemorial year; 
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber, 
      In the misty mid region of Weir— 
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber, 
      In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir. 

Here once, through an alley Titanic, 
      Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul— 
      Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul. 
These were days when my heart was volcanic 
      As the scoriac rivers that roll— 
      As the lavas that restlessly roll 
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek 
      In the ultimate climes of the pole— 
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek 
      In the realms of the boreal pole. 

Our talk had been serious and sober, 
      But our thoughts they were palsied and sere— 
      Our memories were treacherous and sere— 
For we knew not the month was October, 
      And we marked not the night of the year— 
      (Ah, night of all nights in the year!) 
We noted not the dim lake of Auber— 
      (Though once we had journeyed down here)— 
We remembered not the dank tarn of Auber, 
      Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir. 

And now, as the night was senescent 
      And star-dials pointed to morn— 
      As the star-dials hinted of morn— 
At the end of our path a liquescent 
      And nebulous lustre was born, 
Out of which a miraculous crescent 
      Arose with a duplicate horn— 
Astarte's bediamonded crescent 
      Distinct with its duplicate horn. 

And I said—"She is warmer than Dian: 
      She rolls through an ether of sighs— 
      She revels in a region of sighs: 
She has seen that the tears are not dry on 
      These cheeks, where the worm never dies, 
And has come past the stars of the Lion 
      To point us the path to the skies— 
      To the Lethean peace of the skies— 
Come up, in despite of the Lion, 
      To shine on us with her bright eyes— 
Come up through the lair of the Lion, 
      With love in her luminous eyes." 

But Psyche, uplifting her finger, 
      Said—"Sadly this star I mistrust— 
      Her pallor I strangely mistrust:— 
Oh, hasten! oh, let us not linger! 
      Oh, fly!—let us fly!—for we must." 
In terror she spoke, letting sink her 
      Wings till they trailed in the dust— 
In agony sobbed, letting sink her 
      Plumes till they trailed in the dust— 
      Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust. 

I replied—"This is nothing but dreaming: 
      Let us on by this tremulous light! 
      Let us bathe in this crystalline light! 
Its Sybilic splendor is beaming 
      With Hope and in Beauty to-night:— 
      See!—it flickers up the sky through the night! 
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming, 
      And be sure it will lead us aright— 
We safely may trust to a gleaming 
      That cannot but guide us aright, 
      Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night." 

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her, 
      And tempted her out of her gloom— 
      And conquered her scruples and gloom: 
And we passed to the end of the vista, 
      But were stopped by the door of a tomb— 
      By the door of a legended tomb; 
And I said—"What is written, sweet sister, 
      On the door of this legended tomb?" 
      She replied—"Ulalume—Ulalume— 
      'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!" 

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober 
      As the leaves that were crispèd and sere— 
      As the leaves that were withering and sere, 
And I cried—"It was surely October 
      On this very night of last year 
      That I journeyed—I journeyed down here— 
      That I brought a dread burden down here— 
      On this night of all nights in the year, 
      Oh, what demon has tempted me here? 
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber— 
      This misty mid region of Weir— 
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber— 
      In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir." 

Said we, then—the two, then—"Ah, can it 
      Have been that the woodlandish ghouls— 
      The pitiful, the merciful ghouls— 
To bar up our way and to ban it 
      From the secret that lies in these wolds— 
      From the thing that lies hidden in these wolds— 
Had drawn up the spectre of a planet 
      From the limbo of lunary souls— 
This sinfully scintillant planet 
      From the Hell of the planetary souls?"

Anne Sexton

One modern classic is the poet Anne Sexton [1928-1974]--she wrote "Her Kind", a poem that seems to fit a Halloween, esoteric, mysterious dark history type of ethos. If you don't like Plath, Sexton is a great alternative to try. And if you do like Plath, you might like Sexton--she's a bit more contemplative, adult, 'older', and Millay-esque. Sexton also won a Pulitzer. Read more of her poetry here. And click here to listen to her read it aloud, it is very creepy, or read it below:

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


In Shakespeare's famous play, Macbeth's witches are perfect for fall fun--to read, to write in cards, or to whisper to spook someone:

Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn and caldron bubble. 
Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the caldron boil and bake; 
Eye of newt and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat and tongue of dog, 
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, 
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing, 
For a charm of powerful trouble, 
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. 

Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn and caldron bubble. 
Cool it with a baboon's blood, 
Then the charm is firm and good.

This is what their opening moments look like, appropriately--read all of Macbeth here:


Read well-known Scottish poet [1759-1796] Robert Burns' famous "Halloween" poem as fall rolls in here; here's a little excerpt:

Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As through the glen it wimpl’t;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays;
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl’t;
Whyles glitter’d to the nightly rays,
Wi’ bickering, dancing dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.