The HyperTexts

Halloween Poetry: Dark, Eerie, Haunting and Scary poems about Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Werewolves, Mummies, Reanimated Corpses and "Things that go Bump in the Night" ...



Some of the best poems of all time are dark, eerie, haunting, scary poems―the perfect poems for Halloween! We have poetry readings by Jeff Buckley, Orson Welles, James Earl Jones (freakin' Darth Vader!) and other GREAT poetry readers, for anyone who finds reading texts the old-fashioned way too supernaturally draining. We also have a Halloween play, "The Lonely, Bonely Skeleton" that will delight children, requires no props (although a skeleton costume helps), and is free for noncommercial use as long as the author is credited in any recordings, publication materials, etc. But this mini-play is primarily intended for trick-or-treaters, to turn the tables on Halloween night!

Thin Kin
by Michael R. Burch

Skeleton!
Tell us what you lack ...
the ability to love,
your flesh so slack?

Will we frighten you,
grown as pale & unsound,
when we also haunt
the unhallowed ground?

The picture above was taken in the front-yard "graveyard" of our house. The children in our neighborhood call our house the "Halloween House" and it has been on the front page of the local newspaper in the past. I wrote the poem above to go with the ghoulish picture. It is a bit spooky to consider that one day we will all be skeletons!

The Witch
by Michael R. Burch

her fingers draw into claws
she cackles through rotting teeth ...
u ask "are there witches?"
                                        pshaw!
(yet she has my belief)


Which poets wrote the best Halloween poems of all time? Here you will find the great medieval ballad about madness, "Tom O'Bedlam's Song," Alfred Noyes's bleakly romantic ghost story "The Highwayman," Ernest Dowson's haunting "A Last Word," Walter de la Mare's enigmatic "The Listeners," and a terrifying poem about the specter of hell terrorizing Christian children, Robert Frost's magnificent "Directive." I chose the first two poems to complement our ghoulish skeleton.  The poems that follow include some of the very best dark poems in the English language, by masters of the macabre and supernatural like William Shakespeare, John Milton, Edgar Allan Poe, William Blake, Robert Burns, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Gordon (Lord Byron), Alfred Lord Tennyson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walter Savage Landor, Wilfred Owen, Edward Arlington Robinson, Thomas Hardy, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Conrad Aiken. There are also poems by contemporary poets like Jack Foley, George Held, Janet Kenny, Tom Merrill, Robert Mezey, Richard Moore, Joe Ruggier and Elinor Wylie.

Our Top Ten Scary Poems of All Time

A Lyke-Wake Dirge and Tom O'Bedlam's Song by Anonymous
Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allan Poe
The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens
Her Kind by Anne Sexton and Daddy by Sylvia Plath (a tie between friends)
A Last Word by Ernest Dowson
La Belle Dame sans Merci
by John Keats and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (tie)
The Listeners by Walter de la Mare
The Unreturning by Wilfred Owen
The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes
Directive by Robert Frost

Related pages: The Best Vampire Poetry, The Best Dark Poetry, The Best Dark Christmas Poems, The Best Halloween Poetry, Scary Halloween Poems, The Best Supernatural Poetry, The Best Elegies, Dirges & Laments, The Best Thanksgiving Poems



The Skeleton's Defense of Carnality
by Jack Foley

Truly I have lost weight, I have lost weight,
grown lean in love’s defense,
in love’s defense grown grave.
It was concupiscence that brought me to the state:
all bone and a bit of skin
to keep the bone within.
Flesh is no heavy burden for one possessed of little
and accustomed to its loss.
I lean to love, which leaves me lean, till lean turn into lack.
A wanton bone, I sing my song
and travel where the bone is blown
and extricate true love from lust
as any man of wisdom must.
Then wherefore should I rage
against this pilgrimage
from gravel unto gravel?
Circuitous I travel
from love to lack / and lack to lack,
from lean to lack
and back.



This Living Hand
by John Keats

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calm’d—see here it is—
I hold it towards you.

This is one of the scariest poems I have ever read, and it's a "true" poem written by the poet John Keats in December 1819 when he was dying of tuberculosis and wasting away before his friends' eyes, and his own. Leigh Hunt later recollected how Keats would often look at his hand and remark with dismay that it was the hand of a fifty-year-old, even though he was only half that age. In "The Fall of Hyperion" Keats had already foreseen the moment "When this warm scribe my hand is in the grave." Now, toward the end of his life, Keats jots down an untitled fragment in the middle of a comedic poem that he never finishes, "The Caps and Bells; or, The Jealousies." And Keats is still reaching out to us today, with those tragic, earnestly grasping words, reminding us with his memento mori that we all face the same dismal fate, and that nothing can save us, just as no one was able to save or help him ...





TERROR TRIVIA: Speaking of skeletons, did you know that the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas is based on a poem that Tim Burton wrote in 1982, while he was working for Walt Disney Feature Animation? The concept stuck with Burton and he eventually turned the poem into the 1993 stop-motion animated feature film. Disney thought the movie was "too scary for kids" and released it through its Touchstone Pictures label. The movie Braveheart was also based on a poem, this one written by a poet called Blind Harry: "The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace." Or in modern English "The Acts and Deeds of the Illustrious and Valiant Sir William Wallace." And there are several excellent performances of my favorite ghost story, "The Highwayman," on YouTube. There is a link to one of them a few poems down.



A Last Word
by Ernest Dowson

Let us go hence: the night is now at hand;
The day is overworn, the birds all flown;
And we have reaped the crops the gods have sown;
Despair and death; deep darkness o'er the land,
Broods like an owl; we cannot understand
Laughter or tears, for we have only known
Surpassing vanity: vain things alone
Have driven our perverse and aimless band.
Let us go hence, somewhither strange and cold,
To Hollow Lands where just men and unjust
Find end of labour, where's rest for the old,
Freedom to all from love and fear and lust.
Twine our torn hands! O pray the earth enfold
Our life-sick hearts and turn them into dust.



James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, provides a very spooky reading of Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem "The Raven" ...





This is my personal choice for the scariest poem in the English language. I do not recommend reading it to young children ...

A Lyke-Wake Dirge
anonymous medieval lyric (circa the sixteenth century)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A Lie-Awake Dirge is “the night watch kept over a corpse.”

This one night, this one night,
every night and all;
fire and sleet and candlelight,
and Christ receive thy soul.

When from this earthly life you pass
every night and all,
to confront your past you must come at last,
and Christ receive thy soul.

If you ever donated socks and shoes,
every night and all,
sit right down and pull yours on,
and Christ receive thy soul.

But if you never helped your brother,
every night and all,
walk barefoot through the flames of hell,
and Christ receive thy soul.

If ever you shared your food and drink,
every night and all,
the fire will never make you shrink,
and Christ receive thy soul.

But if you never helped your brother,
every night and all,
walk starving through the black abyss,
and Christ receive thy soul.

This one night, this one night,
every night and all;
fire and sleet and candlelight,
and Christ receive thy soul.



Spirits of the Dead
by Edgar Allan Poe

Thy soul shall find itself alone
‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

The night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!



Halloween Haiku
by Martin Elster

That jack-o’-lantern
terrifying the children?
His heart’s in their pie.

Appeared in HaikUniverse



A Lonely, Bonely Skeleton
by Michael R. Burch

This might be a fun play to act out, with children as the “victims”!

Skeleton:

I’m just a lonely skeleton,
a lonely, bonely skeleton.
I’m just a homely skeleton,
so why do you fear me so?
I’m just coming close for a hug!
There’s nothing to fear, you know.

(The skeleton advances with a big, lurching step toward the children. If possible, their parents should be coached to keep them from escaping.)

Chorus:

He’s just a simple Skeleton,
a lonely, bonely Skeleton.
He’s only a homely Skeleton,
so why do you fear him so?

Skeleton:

Please! Please stop running away!
Stand still, and let me advance.
I’m just coming close for a kiss
and maybe, perhaps, for a dance.

(The skeleton advances with several big, lurching steps toward the children.)

Chorus:

He’s just a simple Skeleton,
a lonely, bonely Skeleton.
He’s surely an honest Skeleton,
so when he cries Come!, why go?

Skeleton:

Alas, I fear that I fooled you!
You were far too fleet-footed to catch!
But now that I have you cornered,
you’ll make a nice late-night snack!

(Smacking, slurping, munching and crunching sounds.)

Chorus:

He’s just a simple Skeleton,
a hunger-y, lumber-y Skeleton.
He’s just a slumber-y Skeleton,
who woke up from death too slow
and needed fresh meat to grow.
Now he hunts by pale moons a-glow
with his devious ways and woe.

(If anyone performs this mini-play, please do let me know the results, and if possible record it and post it where other people can also see and enjoy it. I will be glad to link the performance to my popular Halloween and Dark Poetry pages, which get thousands of visitors each year.)



Be Very Afraid...
by M. C. Langford

They live in a lonely place,
a hidden space,
no human trace.

They live at a slower pace
in their mountain base
far from grace.

No one is even aware
they're lurking there;
they don’t share.

Get too close, just beware
you’ll feel a glare,
a living nightmare.

Get caught up in their wake
and they will take
like a starving snake.

If you feel a slight quake
a belly ache,
don’t mistake.

They survive in a lonely place,
a scary space,
in dark disgrace.

Never will you see their face,
before they displace
the human race.

M. C. Langford is a writer of poems and short stories, and she has also tried her hand at a couple of novels. She has written and illustrated two children's books and is now working on a third. She is also a photographer who prefers landscapes and animals as her subjects. She is originally from a small Missouri town and now lives in a small Tennessee town. She has been an artist and poet for most of her life, and has a degree in graphic design. This is her advice to other writers and artists: "Before my car accident, I was an engineering/survey tech, which involved drawing of a different kind. The math drove me crazy because I am extremely right-brained. I was told not to go to college but I did anyway, twice. I maintained a high GPA and made the Dean's List and a National Honor Society. I proved them wrong, so don't ever sell yourself short!"



Here's something you don't see every day: just in time for Halloween, a vampire poem that I wrote many years ago has gone viral ... on a French website ... in an Anglais book ... read by someone with a "burry" Scottish voice! So we have an American poet, a Scottish performer, an English book, and a French bookstore website. The poem is its own ecumenical movement! If you'd like to hear the poem read, please click on this link then scroll down and click on "Poem written by Michael R. Burch" (the poem appears below in the text version).

Vampires
by Michael R. Burch

Vampires are such fragile creatures;
we dread the dark, but the light destroys them ...
sunlight, or a stake, or a cross—such common things.
Still, late at night, when the bat-like vampire sings,
we shrink from his voice.

Centuries have taught us:
in shadows danger lurks for those who stray,
and there the vampire bares his yellow fangs
and feels the ancient soul-tormenting pangs.
He has no choice.

We are his prey, plump and fragrant,
and if we pray to avoid him, he earnestly prays to find us ...
prays to some despotic hooded God
whose benediction is the humid blood
he lusts to taste.



Ulalume [an excerpt]
by Edgar Allan Poe

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped 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 ...

Jeff Buckley provides a haunting reading of "Ulalume" ...





Revenge of the Halloween Monsters
by Michael R. Burch

The Halloween monsters, incensed,
keep howling, and may be UNFENCED!!!
They’re angry that children with treats
keep throwing their trash IN THE STREETS!!!

You can check it out on your computer:
Google says, “Please don’t be a POLLUTER!!!”
The Halloween monsters agree,
so if you’re a litterbug, FLEE!!!

Kids, if you’d like more treats this year
and don’t want to cower in FEAR,
please make all the mean monsters happy,
and they’ll hand out sweet treats like they’re sappy!

So if you eat treats on the drag
and don't want huge monsters to nag,
please put all loose trash in your BAG!!!

NOTE: If you recite the poem, get the kids to huddle up close, then yell the all-caps parts like you’re one of the unhappy monsters, and perhaps "goose" them as well. They'll get the message.



Here is a very entertaining poem, performed by its author John Beaton, about a skeleton with a highly unusual method of attacking its victims ...





The Werewolf Forsakes Humanity
by Michael R. Burch

What I ache to say is beyond saying—
no words for the horror
                             of not loving enough,
like a mummy half-wrapped in its moldering casements
holding a lily aloft.

No, there are no words for the horror
as an arctic wind howls through the teetering floes
and the cold freezes down to my clawed hairy toes ...

What use to me, now, if the stars appear?

As I moan
         the moon finds me,
                             fangs goring the deer.




Here is Alfred Noyes' haunting ghost story "The Highwayman" recited and performed in a very entertaining and well-done video ...



The text of "The Highwayman" appears later on this page. This was my favorite poem as a young boy; my mother would recite it to me and my sisters from memory. I later learned that Alfred Noyes died the year I was born, 1958. Oh, the Horror! Can I really be that old?



It's Halloween!
by Michael R. Burch

If evening falls
on graveyard walls
far softer than a sigh;
if shadows fly
moon-sickled skies,
while children toss their heads
uneasy in their beds,
beware the witch's eye!

If goblins loom
within the gloom
till playful pups grow terse;
if birds give up their verse
to comfort chicks they nurse,
while children dream weird dreams
of ugly, wiggly things,
beware the serpent's curse!

If spirits scream
in haunted dreams
while ancient sibyls rise
to plague nightmarish skies
one night without disguise,
while children toss about
uneasy, full of doubt,
beware the Devil's lies . . .

it's Halloween!



All Hallows Night
by Lizette Woodworth Reese

Two things I did on Hallows Night:—
Made my house April-clear;
Left open wide my door
To the ghosts of the year.

Then one came in. Across the room
It stood up long and fair—
The ghost that was myself—
And gave me stare for stare.



Ghost
by Michael R. Burch

White in the shadows
I see your face,
unbidden. Go, tell

Love it is commonplace;
tell Regret it is not so rare.

Our love is not here
though you smile,
full of sedulous grace.

Lost in darkness, I fear
the past is our resting place.



The Australian poet John Manifold reminds us never to marry werewolves! ...

The Griesly Wife
by John Streeter Manifold

"Lie still, my newly married wife,
Lie easy as you can.
You're young and ill accustomed yet
To sleeping with a man."

The snow lay thick, the moon was full
And shone across the floor.
And the young wife went with ne'er a word
Barefooted to the door.

He up and followed sure and fast,
The moon shone clear and white.
But before his coat was on his back
His wife was out of sight.

He trod the trail where'er it turned
By many a mound and scree,
And still the barefoot track led on,
And an angry man was he.

He followed fast, he followed slow,
And still he called her name,
But only the wild dogs out in the hills
Yowled back at him again.

His hair stood up along his neck,
His angry mind was gone,
For the track of the two bare feet gave out
And a four-foot track went on.

Her nightgown lay upon the snow
As it might upon the sheet,
But the track that led from where it lay
Was ne'er of human feet.

His heart turned over in his chest,
He looked from side to side,
And he thought more of his blazing fire,
Than he did of his griesly bride.

And first he started walking back
And then began to run,
And his quarry wheeled at the end of her track
And hunted him in turn.

Oh, long the fire may burn for him
And open stand the door,
And long may the bed wait empty:
For he'll never see it more.



Orson Welles reads "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" ....





Her Kind
by Anne Sexton

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.



Theme in Yellow
by Carl Sandburg

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o'-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.



Luke Havergal
by Edward Arlington Robinson

Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal,
There where the vines cling crimson on the wall,
And in the twilight wait for what will come.
The leaves will whisper there of her, and some,
Like flying words, will strike you as they fall;
But go, and if you listen, she will call.
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal—
Luke Havergal.

No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies
To rift the fiery night that's in your eyes;
But there, where western glooms are gathering
The dark will end the dark, if anything:
God slays Himself with every leaf that flies,
And hell is more than half of paradise.
No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies—
In eastern skies.

Out of a grave I come to tell you this,
Out of a grave I come to quench the kiss
That flames upon your forehead with a glow
That blinds you to the way that you must go.
Yes, there is yet one way to where she is,
Bitter, but one that faith may never miss.
Out of a grave I come to tell you this—
To tell you this.

There is the western gate, Luke Havergal,
There are the crimson leaves upon the wall,
Go, for the winds are tearing them away,—
Nor think to riddle the dead words they say,
Nor any more to feel them as they fall;
But go, and if you trust her she will call.
There is the western gate, Luke Havergal—
Luke Havergal.



Sea Fevers
by Agnes Wathall

No ancient mariner I,
  Hawker of public crosses,
Snaring the passersby
  With my necklace of albatrosses.

I blink no glittering eye
  Between tufts of gray sea mosses
Nor in the high road ply
  My trade of guilts and glosses.

But a dark and inward sky
   Tracks the flotsam of my losses.
No more becalmed to lie,
  The skeleton ship tosses.



The Listeners
by Walter de la Mare

'Is there anybody there?' said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
'Is there anybody there?' he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:—
'Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,' he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.



"Song of the Witches"
from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

by William Shakespeare

Three witches, casting a spell ...

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron 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 cauldron bubble.



In the Fog
by Giovanni Pascoli
translated by Geoffrey Brock

I stared into the valley: it was gone—
wholly submerged! A vast flat sea remained,
gray, with no waves, no beaches; all was one.

And here and there I noticed, when I strained,
the alien clamoring of small, wild voices:
birds that had lost their way in that vain land.

And high above, the skeletons of beeches,
as if suspended, and the reveries
of ruins and of the hermit’s hidden reaches.

And a dog yelped and yelped, as if in fear,
I knew not where nor why. Perhaps he heard
strange footsteps, neither far away nor near—

echoing footsteps, neither slow nor quick,
alternating, eternal. Down I stared,
but I saw nothing, no one, looking back.

The reveries of ruins asked: “Will no
one come?” The skeletons of trees inquired:
“And who are you, forever on the go?”

I may have seen a shadow then, an errant
shadow, bearing a bundle on its head.
I saw—and no more saw, in the same instant.

All I could hear were the uneasy screeches
of the lost birds, the yelping of the stray,
and, on that sea that lacked both waves and beaches,

the footsteps, neither near nor far away.



Halloween Snapshot
by George Held

That devil in red satin suit
With tail and black mask,
Holding a black plastic pitchfork,
Is eight-year-old me,
Costumed by my mom.

Little did she know then,
When conjuring
My childish deviltry,
I'd grow up practicing
That black art poetry.



All Hallows Eve
by Michael R. Burch

What happened to the mysterious Tuatha De Danann, to the Ban Shee (from which we get the term “banshee”) and, eventually, to the Druids? One might assume that with the passing of Merlyn, Morgan le Fay and their ilk, the time of myths and magic ended. This poem is an epitaph of sorts.

In the ruins
of the dreams
and the schemes
of men;

when the moon
begets the tide
and the wide
sea sighs;

when a star
appears in heaven
and the raven
cries;

we will dance
and we will revel
in the devil’s
fen ...

if nevermore again.



Pale Though Her Eyes
by Michael R. Burch

Pale though her eyes,
her lips are scarlet
from drinking our blood,
this child, this harlot

born of the night
and her heart, of darkness,
evil incarnate
to dance so reckless,

dreaming of blood,
her fangs—white—baring,
revealing her lust,
and her eyes, pale, staring ...



Christabel [an excerpt]
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Beneath the lamp the lady bowed,
And slowly rolled her eyes around;
Then drawing in her breath aloud,
Like one that shuddered, she unbound
The cincture from beneath her breast:
Her silken robe, and inner vest,
Dropt to her feet, and full in view,
Behold! her bosom, and half her side—
A sight to dream of, not to tell!
O shield her! shield sweet Christabel!



The Unreturning
by Wilfred Owen

Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled
Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled.
Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled
When far-gone dead return upon the world.

There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke.
Each one whom Life exiled I named and called.
But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled,
And never one fared back to me or spoke.

Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn
With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds,
The weak-limned hour when sick men's sighs are drained.
And while I wondered on their being withdrawn,
Gagged by the smothering Wing which none unbinds,
I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.



The Highwayman
by Alfred Noyes

PART ONE

I
THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
                      Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

II
He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
                      His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

III
Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
                      Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

IV
And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
                      The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

V
"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
                      Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

VI
He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
                      (Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

PART TWO

I
He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
                      Marching—marching—
King George's men came matching, up to the old inn-door.

II
They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
                      And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

III
They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
                      She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
                      Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

IV
She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
                      Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

V
The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
                      Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain.

VI
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
                      Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

VII
Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
                      Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

VIII
He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
                      The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

IX
Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
                      Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

X
And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
                      Riding—riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.


XI
Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
                      Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.




Like Angels, Winged
by Michael R. Burch

Like angels—winged,
shimmering, misunderstood—
they flit beyond our understanding
being neither evil, nor good.

They are as they are ...
and we are their lovers, their prey;
they seek us out when the moon is full
and dream of us by day.

Their eyes—hypnotic, alluring—
trap ours with their strange appeal
till like flame-drawn moths, we gather ...
to see, to touch, to feel.

Held in their arms, enchanted,
we feel their lips, so old!,
till with their gorging kisses
we warm them, growing cold.



Alone
by Edgar Alan Poe

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then—in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.



Du
by Janet Kenny

A wisp of old woman,
curved like a scythe,
tottered to me as she
fussed her shopping,
her walking stick hooked
on her chopstick wrist.

She spoke to me then
in a dried leaf voice.
Inaudible there
in that busy street,
swept by rude gales
from passing trucks.

I leaned closer to hear:
Mein eyes not gut.
time for bus, ven comes it?
“Which bus do you want?”

She smiled, shook her head
then sang to herself
—and somebody else,
in—not German. Yiddish?
“Which bus?”
She leaned towards me,
her tiny claw reached
to stroke my face.
Du she said.

Du



The Sick Rose
by William Blake

O Rose, thou art sick.
The invisible worm
That flies in the night
In the howling storm
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.



The Light of Other Days
by Tom Moore

Oft, in the stilly night,
  Ere slumber's chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
  Of other days around me:
    The smiles, the tears
    Of boyhood's years,
  The words of love then spoken;
    The eyes that shone,
    Now dimm'd and gone,
  The cheerful hearts now broken!
Thus, in the stilly night,
  Ere slumber's chain has bound me,
Sad Memory brings the light
  Of other days around me.

When I remember all
  The friends, so link'd together,
I've seen around me fall
  Like leaves in wintry weather,
    I feel like one
    Who treads alone
  Some banquet-hall deserted,
    Whose lights are fled,
    Whose garlands dead,
  And all but he departed!
Thus, in the stilly night,
  Ere slumber's chain has bound me.
Sad Memory brings the light
  Of other days around me.



Siren Song
by Michael R. Burch

The Lorelei’s
soft cries
entreat mariners to save her ...

How can they resist
her faint voice through the mist?

Soon she will savor
the flavor
of sweet human flesh.



The Vampire's Spa Day Dream
by Michael R. Burch

O, to swim in vats of blood!
I wish I could, I wish I could!
O, 'twould be
so heavenly
to swim in lovely vats of blood!

The poem above was inspired by a Josh Parkinson depiction of Elizabeth Bathory up to her nostrils in the blood of her victims, with their skulls floating in the background.



Athenian Epitaphs (Gravestone Inscriptions of the Ancient Greeks)

Mariner, do not ask whose tomb this may be,
but go with good fortune: I wish you a kinder sea.
Michael R. Burch, after Plato

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gulls in their high, lonely circuits may tell.
Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus

Passerby,
tell the Spartans we lie
here, dead at their word,
obedient to their command.
Have they heard?
Do they understand?
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides



Acquainted With The Night
by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.



Tom O' Bedlam's Song
Anonymous ballad, circa 1620

From the hag and hungry goblin
That into rags would rend ye,
The spirit that stands by the naked man
In the Book of Moons, defend ye.
That of your five sound senses
You never be forsaken,
Nor wander from your selves with Tom
Abroad to beg your bacon,
    While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
    Feeding, drink or clothing;
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.

Of thirty bare years have I
Twice twenty been enragèd,
And of forty been three times fifteen
In durance soundly cagèd.
On the lordly lofts of Bedlam
With stubble soft and dainty,
Brave bracelets strong, sweet whips, ding-dong,
With wholesome hunger plenty,
    And now I sing, Any food, any feeding,
    Feeding, drink or clothing;
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.

With a thought I took for Maudlin,
And a cruse of cockle pottage,
With a thing thus tall, sky bless you all,
I befell into this dotage.
I slept not since the Conquest,
Till then I never wakèd,
Till the roguish boy of love where I lay
Me found and stript me nakèd.
    While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
    Feeding, drink or clothing;
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.

When I short have shorn my sow's face
And swigged my horny barrel,
In an oaken inn, I pound my skin
As a suit of gilt apparel;
The moon's my constant mistress,
And the lovely owl my marrow;
The flaming drake and the night crow make
Me music to my sorrow.
    While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
    Feeding, drink or clothing;
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.

The palsy plagues my pulses
When I prig your pigs or pullen
Your culvers take, or matchless make
Your Chanticleer or Sullen.
When I want provant, with Humphry
I sup, and when benighted,
I repose in Paul's with waking souls,
Yet never am affrighted.
    But I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
    Feeding, drink or clothing;
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.

I know more than Apollo,
For oft when he lies sleeping
I see the stars at mortal wars
In the wounded welkin weeping.
The moon embrace her shepherd,
And the Queen of Love her warrior,
While the first doth horn the star of morn,
And the next the heavenly Farrier.
    While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
    Feeding, drink or clothing;
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.

The Gypsies, Snap and Pedro,
Are none of Tom's comradoes,
The punk I scorn, and the cutpurse sworn
And the roaring boy's bravadoes.
The meek, the white, the gentle,
Me handle not nor spare not;
But those that cross Tom Rynosseross
Do what the panther dare not.
    Although I sing, Any food, any feeding,
    Feeding, drink or clothing;
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.

With an host of furious fancies,
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end:
Methinks it is no journey.
    Yet I will sing, Any food, any feeding,
    Feeding, drink or clothing;
    Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
    Poor Tom will injure nothing.


Lenore
by Edgar Alan Poe

Ah broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!—a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear?—weep now or never more!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read—the funeral song be sung!—
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young—
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
"And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her—that she died!
"How shall the ritual, then, be read?—the requiem how be sung
"By you—by yours, the evil eye,—by yours, the slanderous tongue
"That did to death the innocent that died, and died so young?"

Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel so wrong!
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride—
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes—
The life still there, upon her hair—the death upon her eyes.

"Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
"But waft the angel on her flight with a Pæan of old days!
"Let no bell toll!—lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
"Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damnéd Earth.
"To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven—
"From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven—
"From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven."



Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

Nevermore! O, nevermore!
shall the haunts of the sea
—the swollen tide pools
and the dark, deserted shore—
mark her passing again.

And the salivating sea
shall never kiss her lips
nor caress her breasts and hips,
as she dreamt it did before,
once, lost within the uproar.

The waves will never rape her,
nor take her at their leisure;
the sea gulls shall not have her,
nor could she give them pleasure ...
She sleeps, forevermore!

She sleeps forevermore,
a virgin save to me
and her other lover,
who lurks now, safely smothered
by the restless, surging sea.

And, yes, they sleep together,
but never in that way ...
For the sea has stripped and shorn
the one I once adored,
and washed her flesh away.

He does not stroke her honey hair,
for she is bald, bald to the bone!
And how it fills my heart with glee
to hear them sometimes cursing me
out of the depths of the demon sea ...

their skeletal love—impossibility!



The Vampire
by Conrad Aiken

She rose among us where we lay.
She wept, we put our work away.
She chilled our laughter, stilled our play;
And spread a silence there.
And darkness shot across the sky,
And once, and twice, we heard her cry;
And saw her lift white hands on high
And toss her troubled hair.

What shape was this who came to us,
With basilisk eyes so ominous,
With mouth so sweet, so poisonous,
And tortured hands so pale?
We saw her wavering to and fro,
Through dark and wind we saw her go;
Yet what her name was did not know;
And felt our spirits fail.

We tried to turn away; but still
Above we heard her sorrow thrill;
And those that slept, they dreamed of ill
And dreadful things:
Of skies grown red with rending flames
And shuddering hills that cracked their frames;
Of twilights foul with wings;

And skeletons dancing to a tune;
And cries of children stifled soon;
And over all a blood-red moon
A dull and nightmare size.
They woke, and sought to go their ways,
Yet everywhere they met her gaze,
Her fixed and burning eyes.

Who are you now, —we cried to her—
Spirit so strange, so sinister?
We felt dead winds above us stir;
And in the darkness heard
A voice fall, singing, cloying sweet,
Heavily dropping, though that heat,
Heavy as honeyed pulses beat,
Slow word by anguished word.

And through the night strange music went
With voice and cry so darkly blent
We could not fathom what they meant;
Save only that they seemed
To thin the blood along our veins,
Foretelling vile, delirious pains,
And clouds divulging blood-red rains
Upon a hill undreamed.

And this we heard: "Who dies for me,
He shall possess me secretly,
My terrible beauty he shall see,
And slake my body's flame.
But who denies me cursed shall be,
And slain, and buried loathsomely,
And slimed upon with shame."

And darkness fell. And like a sea
Of stumbling deaths we followed, we
Who dared not stay behind.
There all night long beneath a cloud
We rose and fell, we struck and bowed,
We were the ploughman and the ploughed,
Our eyes were red and blind.

And some, they said, had touched her side,
Before she fled us there;
And some had taken her to bride;
And some lain down for her and died;
Who had not touched her hair,
Ran to and fro and cursed and cried
And sought her everywhere.

"Her eyes have feasted on the dead,
And small and shapely is her head,
And dark and small her mouth," they said,
"And beautiful to kiss;
Her mouth is sinister and red
As blood in moonlight is."

Then poets forgot their jeweled words
And cut the sky with glittering swords;
And innocent souls turned carrion birds
To perch upon the dead.
Sweet daisy fields were drenched with death,
The air became a charnel breath,
Pale stones were splashed with red.

Green leaves were dappled bright with blood
And fruit trees murdered in the bud;
And when at length the dawn
Came green as twilight from the east,
And all that heaving horror ceased,
Silent was every bird and beast,
And that dark voice was gone.

No word was there, no song, no bell,
No furious tongue that dream to tell;
Only the dead, who rose and fell
Above the wounded men;
And whisperings and wails of pain
Blown slowly from the wounded grain,
Blown slowly from the smoking plain;
And silence fallen again.

Until at dusk, from God knows where,
Beneath dark birds that filled the air,
Like one who did not hear or care,
Under a blood-red cloud,
An aged ploughman came alone
And drove his share through flesh and bone,
And turned them under to mould and stone;
All night long he ploughed.



Directive
by Robert Frost

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry –
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there's a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods' excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago?
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone's road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you're lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left's no bigger than a harness gall.
First there's the children's house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny's
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.



The Lovemaker
by Robert Mezey

I see you in her bed,
Dark, rootless epicene,
Where a lone ghost is laid
And other ghosts convene;

And hear you moan at last
Your pleasure in the deep
Haven of her who kissed
Your blind mouth into sleep.

But body, once enthralled,
Wakes in the chains it wore,
Dishevelled, stupid, cold,
And famished as before,

And hears its paragon
Breathe in the ghostly air,
Anonymous carrion
Ravished by despair.

Lovemaker, I have felt
Desire take my part,
But lacked your constant fault
And something of your art,

And would not bend my knees
To the unmantled pride
That left you in that place,
Forever unsatisfied.



Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae
by Ernest Dowson

"I am not as I was under the reign of the good Cynara"—Horace

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:
I have been faithful to you, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long;
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.



Depths
by Richard Moore

Once more home is a strange place: by the ocean a
big house now, and the small houses are memories,
   once live images, vacant
        thoughts here, sinking and vanishing.

Rough sea now on the shore thundering brokenly
draws back stones with a roar out into quiet and
    far depths, darkly to lie there
         years, yearsthere not a sound from them.

New waves out of the night's mist and obscurity
lunge up high on the beach, spending their energy,
    each wave angrily dying,
        all shapes endlessly altering,

yet out there in the depths nothing is modified.
Earthquakes won't even moveno, nor the hurricane
    one stone there, nor a glance of
         sun's light stir its identity.



How Long the Night (anonymous Old English Lyric, circa early 13th century AD)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song ...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast—
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



The Wild Hunt
by Michael R. Burch

Our Halloween is an inheritance from the ancient Celts. The Celts believed that the "otherworld" can sometimes merge with the "real world," so that elves, fairies, witches, warlocks and other fantastical entities are able to either help or harm human beings.

Near Devon, the hunters appear in the sky
with Artur and Bedwyr sounding the call;
and the others, laughing, go dashing by.
They only appear when the moon is full:

Valerin, the King of the Tangled Wood,
and Valynt, the goodly King of Wales,
Gawain and Owain and the hearty men
who live on in many minstrels’ tales.

They seek the white stag on a moonlit moor,
or Torc Triath, the fabled boar,
or Ysgithyrwyn, or Twrch Trwyth,
the other mighty boars of myth.

They appear, sometimes, on Halloween
to chase the moon across the green,
then fade into the shadowed hills
where memory alone prevails.



The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
     When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
     The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
     Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
     Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
     The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
     The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
     Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
     Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
     The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
     Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
     In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
     Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
     Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
     Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
     His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
     And I was unaware.



Ozymandias
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.



Methought I Saw
by John Milton

Methought I saw my late espousèd saint
    Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
    Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
    Rescued from Death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom washed from spot of childbed taint
    Purification in the Old Law did save,
    And such, as yet once more I trust to have
    Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind.
    Her face was veiled; yet to my fancied sight
    Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined
So clear as in no face with more delight.
    But O, as to embrace me she inclined,
    I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night.



On the Eve of His Execution
by Chidiock Tichborne

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and found it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.



The Eagle and the Mole
by Elinor Morton Wylie

Avoid the reeking herd,
Shun the polluted flock,
Live like that stoic bird,
The eagle of the rock.

The huddled warmth of crowds
Begets and fosters hate;
He keeps above the clouds
His cliff inviolate.

When flocks are folded warm,
And herds to shelter run,
He sails above the storm,
He stares into the sun.

If in the eagle's track
Your sinews cannot leap,
Avoid the lathered pack,
Turn from the steaming sheep.

If you would keep your soul
From spotted sight or sound,
Live like the velvet mole:
Go burrow underground.

And there hold intercourse
With roots of trees and stones,
With rivers at their source,
And disembodied bones.



Part 6 from The Dark Side of the Deity: Interlude
by Joe M. Ruggier

When Satan hurled, before the Dawn,
 defiance at the Lord of History;
and Michael stood, and Glory shone,
 Whose hand controlled the timeless Mystery?
        Who but the Insult was the leveler;
        Deliverer and bedeviler?

When Athens, sung in verse and prose,
 caught all the World's imagination;
when Ilion fell, and Rome arose,
 and Time went on like pagination:
      Who but the Insult was the leveler;
      Deliverer and bedeviler?

When books, in numberless infinities,
  cross-fertilize the teeming brain,
and warring, vex the Soul with Vanities,
  and Insults hurtle, Insults rain:
      Who but the Insult is the leveler;
      Deliverer and bedeviler?

And when we too shall cease to be,
  like all the Kingdoms of the Past,
and groaning, gasping, wrenching free,
  we bite, at last, alone, the dust:
      Who but the Insult is the leveler;
      Deliverer and bedeviler?

When church‑bells fill the wandering fields
          with Love and Fear,
the Flesh and Blood of Jesus yields
          deliverance dear,
to them who believe in the Compliment Sinsear.



Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.



The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.



Buffalo Bill's defunct
by e. e. cummings

Buffalo Bill's
        defunct
               who used to
               ride a watersmooth-silver
                                        stallion
        and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
                                                         Jesus
        he was a handsome man
                             and what i want to know is
        how do you like your blueeyed boy
        Mister Death



Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat inchohare longam
by Ernest Dowson

"The brevity of life forbids us to entertain hopes of long duration" —Horace

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.



Come Lord and Lift
by T. Merrill

Come Lord, and lift the fallen bird
   Abandoned on the ground;
The soul bereft and longing so
   To have the lost be found.

The heart that cries—let it but hear
   Its sweet love answering,
Or out of ether one faint note
   Of living comfort wring.



VIII— from "Sunday Morning"
by Wallace Stevens

She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, "The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay."
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old despondency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.



Easter Hymn
by A. E. Housman

If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
The hate you died to quench and could but fan,
Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.

But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,
At the right hand of majesty on high
You sit, and sitting so remember yet
Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,
Your cross and passion and the life you gave,
Bow hither out of heaven and see and save.



The Bustle In A House
by Emily Dickinson

The bustle in a house
The morning after death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon earth.

The sweeping up the heart
And putting love away
We shall not want to use again
Until eternity.



The Broken Tower
by Hart Crane

The bell-rope that gathers God at dawn
Dispatches me as though I dropped down the knell
Of a spent day—to wander the cathedral lawn
From pit to crucifix, feet chill on steps from hell.

Have you not heard, have you not seen that corps
Of shadows in the tower, whose shoulders sway
Antiphonal carillons launched before
The stars are caught and hived in the sun's ray?

The bells, I say, the bells break down their tower;
And swing I know not where. Their tongues engrave
Membrane through marrow, my long-scattered score
Of broken intervals ... And I, their sexton slave!

Oval encyclicals in canyons heaping
The impasse high with choir. Banked voices slain!
Pagodas, campaniles with reveilles out leaping —
O terraced echoes prostrate on the plain! ...

And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

My word I poured. But was it cognate, scored
Of that tribunal monarch of the air
Whose thighs embronzes earth, strikes crystal Word
In wounds pledged once to hope—cleft to despair?

The steep encroachments of my blood left me
No answer (could blood hold such a lofty tower
As flings the question true?)—or is it she
Whose sweet mortality stirs latent power?

And through whose pulse I hear, counting the strokes
My veins recall and add, revived and sure
The angelus of wars my chest evokes:
What I hold healed, original now, and pure ...

And builds, within, a tower that is not stone
(Not stone can jacket heaven)—but slip
Of pebbles,—visible wings of silence sown
In azure circles, widening as they dip

The matrix of the heart, lift down the eyes
That shrines the quiet lake and swells a tower ...
The commodious, tall decorum of that sky
Unseals her earth, and lifts love in its shower.



At Melville's Tomb
by Hart Crane

Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men's bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.

And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death's bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.

Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.

Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides ... High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.



Resume
by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.



Requiem
by Robert L. Stevenson

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me;
"Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill."



Haunted Houses
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,—

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.



Completing the Pattern
by Michael R. Burch

Walk with me now, among the transfixed dead
who kept life’s compact and who thus endure
harsh sentence here—among pink-petaled beds
and manicured green lawns. The sky’s azure,
pale blue once like their eyes, will gleam blood-red
at last when sunset staggers to the door
of each white mausoleum, to inquire—
What use, O things of erstwhile loveliness?



Reclamation
by Michael R. Burch

after Robert Graves, with a nod to Mary Shelley

I have come to the dark side of things
where the bat sings
                              its evasive radar
and Want is a crooked forefinger
attached to a gelatinous wing.

I have grown animate here, a stitched corpse
hooked to electrodes.
                                  And night
moves upon me—progenitor of life
with its foul breath.

Blind eyes have their second sight
and still are deceived. Now my nature
is softly to moan
                          as Desire carries me
swooningly across her threshold.

                                               Stone
is less infinite than her crone’s
gargantuan hooked nose, her driveling lips.
I eye her ecstatically—her dowager figure,
and there is something about her that my words transfigure

to a consuming emptiness.
                                        We are at peace
with each other; this is our venture—
swaying, the strings tautening, as tightropes
tauten, as love tightens, constricts

to the first note.
                         Lyre of our hearts’ pits,
orchestration of nothing, adits
of emptiness!
We have come to the last of our hopes,
sweet as congealed blood sweetens for flies.

Need is reborn; love dies.



No One
by Michael R. Burch

No One hears the bells tonight;
they tell him something isn’t right.
But No One is not one to rush;
he smiles on a bed soft, green and lush
as far away a startled thrush
flees from horned owls in sinking flight.

No One hears the cannon’s roar
and muses that its voice means war
comes knocking on men’s doors tonight.
He sleeps outside in awed delight
beneath the enigmatic stars
and shivers in their cooling light.

No One knows the world will end,
that he’ll be lonely, without friend
or foe to conquer. All will be
once more, celestial harmony.
He’ll miss men’s voices, now and then,
but worlds can be remade again.



Deliver Us ...
by Michael R. Burch

The night is dark and scary—
under your bed, or upon it.

That blazing light might be a star ...
or maybe the Final Comet.

But two things are sure: your mother’s love
and your puppy’s kisses, doggonit!



the Horror
by Michael R. Burch

the Horror lurks inside our closets
the Horror hides beneath our beds
the Horror hisses ancient curses
the Horror whispers in our heads

the Horror tells us Death is coming
the Horror tells us there’s no hope
the Horror tells us “life” is futile
the Horror beckons, “there’s the Rope!”



Belfry
by Michael R. Burch

There are things we surrender
to the attic gloom:
they haunt us at night
with shrill, querulous voices.

There are choices we made
yet did not pursue,
behind windows we shuttered
then failed to remember.

There are canisters sealed
that we cannot reopen,
and others long broken
that nothing can heal.

There are things we conceal
that our anger dismembered,
gray leathery faces
the rafters reveal.



Duet
by Michael R. Burch

Oh, Wendy, by the firelight, how sad!
How worn and gray your auburn hair became!
You’re very silent, like an evening rain
that trembles on dark petals. Tears you’ve shed
for days we laughed together, glisten now;
your flesh became translucent; and your brow
knits, gathered loosely. By the well-made bed
three portraits hang with knowing eyes, beloved,
but mine is not among them. Time has proved
our hearts both strangely mortal. If I said
I loved you once, how is it that could change?
And yet I watch you fondly; love is strange . . .

Oh, Peter, by the firelight, how bright
my thought of you remains, and if I said
I loved you once, then took him to my bed,
I did it for the need of love, one night
when you were far away. My heart endured
transfigurement—in flaming ash inured
to heartbreak and the violence of sight:
I saw myself grow old and thin and frail
with thinning hair about me, like a veil . . .
And so I loved him for myself, despite
the love between us—our first startled kiss.
But then I loved him for his humanness.
And then we both grew old, and it was right . . .

Oh, Wendy, if I fly, I fly beyond
these human hearts, these cities walled and tiered
against the night, beyond this vale of tears,
for love, if it exists, dies with the years . . .

No, Peter, love is constant as the heart
that keeps till its last beat a measured pace
and sets the fixtures of its dreams in place
by beds at first well-used, at last well-made,
and counts each face a joy, each tear a grace . . .



Strange Corps(e)
by Michael R. Burch

We are all dying, haunted by life—
dying, but the living will not let us go.
We are perishing zombies, haunted by the moonglow.

With what animation we, shuffling, return
nightly, to worry Love’s worm-eaten corpse,
till, living or dead, she is wholly ours.

We are the dying, enamored of “life”—
the palest of auras, the eeriest call.
We stagger to attention ... stumble ... fall.

We have only one thought—Love’s peculiar notion,
that our duty’s to “live,” though such “living” means
night’s horrific wild hungers, its stranger dreams.

We now “live” on the flesh of eroded dreams
and no longer recoil at the victims’ screams.



Love, ah! serene ghost
by Michael R. Burch

Love, ah! serene ghost,
haunts my retelling of her,
or stands atop despairing stairs
with such pale, severe eyes,
I become another pallid specter.

But what I feel
most profoundly is this:
the absolute lack of her kiss,
the absence of her wild,
unwarranted laughter.

So that,
like a candle deprived of oxygen,
I become mere wick and tallow again.
Here and hereafter ...
gone with her now, in the darkest of nights, the flame!

I lie, pallid vision of man—the same
wan ghost of her palpitations’ claim
on my heart
that I was before.
I love her beyond and despite even shame.



Eden
by Michael R. Burch

Then earth was heaven too, a perfect garden.
Apples burgeoned and shone—unplucked on sagging boughs.
What, then, would the children eat?
Fruit indecently sweet,
redolent as incense, with a tempting aroma ...



Outcasts
by Michael R. Burch

There was a rose, a prescient shade of crimson,
the very color of blood,
that bloomed in that garden.

The most dazzling of all the Earth’s flowers,
men have forgotten it now,
with their fanciful tales of apples and serpents.

Beasts with lips called the goreflower “Love.”

The scribes have the story all wrong: four were there,
four horrid dark creatures—chattering, bickering.
Aduhm placed one red petal in Ehve’s matted hair;

he was lost in her arms
till dawn sullen and golden
imperceptibly streaked the musk-fragrant air.

Two flared nostrils quivered, two eyes remained open.

Kahyn sought me that evening, his bloodless lips curled
in a grimacelike smile. Sunken-cheeked, he approached me
in the Caverns of Similitudes, eerie Barzakh.

“We are outcasts, my brother!, God quickly deserts us.”
As though his anguish conceived in insight’s first blush
might not pale next to mine in Sheol’s gray realm.

“Shining Creature!” he named me and called me divine
as he lavished damp kisses upon my bright scales.
“Help me find me one rare gift to put Love’s gift to shame.”

“There is a dark rose with a bittersweet fragrance
as pungent as cloves: only man knows its name.
Clinging and cloying, it destroys all it touches . . .”

“But red is Ehve’s preference; while Envy is green.”
He was downcast a moment, a moment, a moment . . .
“Ah, but red is the color of blood!”

Disagreeable child, far too clever for his own good.

Published in The Bible of Hell (anthology)



I think the octopus is evidence of three things: that there are aliens, that they live among us, and that they are infinitely wiser than we are ...

Bikini
by Michael R. Burch

Undersea, by the shale and the coral forming,
by the shell’s pale rose and the pearl’s bright eye,
through the sea’s green bed of lank seaweed worming
like entangled hair where cold currents rise ...
something lurks where the riptides sigh,
something curious, old and wise.

Something old when the world was forming
now lifts its beak, its snail-blind eye,
and, with tentacles like Medusa's squirming,
it feels the cloud blot out the skies' ...
then shudders, settles with a sigh,
understanding man’s demise.



Ceremony
by Michael R. Burch

Lost in the cavernous blue silence of spring,
heavy-lidded and drowsy with slumber, I see
the dark gnats leap; the black flies fling
their slow, engorged bulks into the air above me.

Shimmering hordes of blue-green bottleflies sing
their monotonous laments; as I listen, they near
with the strange droning hum of their murmurous wings.
Though you said you would leave me, I prop you up here

and brush back red ants from your fine, tangled hair,
whispering, “I do!” . . . as the gaunt vultures stare.



Contraire
by Michael R. Burch

Where there was nothing
but emptiness
and hollow chaos and despair,

I sought Her ...

finding only the darkness
and mournful silence
of the wind entangling her hair.

Yet her name was like prayer.

Now she is the vast
starry tinctures of emptiness
flickering everywhere

within me and about me.

Yes, she is the darkness,
and she is the silence
of twilight and the night air.

Yes, she is the chaos
and she is the madness
and they call her Contraire.



Dark Twin
by Michael R. Burch

You come to me
out of the sun —
my dark twin, unreal . . .

And you are always near
although I cannot touch you;
although I trample you, you cannot feel . . .

And we cannot be parted,
nor can we ever meet
except at the feet.



East End, 1888
by Michael R. Burch

Past darkened storefronts,
hunched and contorted, bent with need
through chilling rain, he walks alone

till down the glistening cobblestones
deliberate footsteps pause, resume.
He follows, by a pub confronts

a pasty face, an overbright smile,
lips intimating easy bliss,
a boisterous, over-eager tongue.

She barters what she has to sell;
her honeyed words seem cloying, stale—
pale, tainted things of sticky guile.

*

A rustle of her petticoats,
a flash of bulging milk-white breast
. . . the price is set: a crown. “A tip,

a shilling more is yours,” he quotes,
“to wash your privates.” She accepts.
Saliva glistens on his lips.

*

An alley. There, he lifts her gown,
in answer to her question, frowns,
says—“You can call me Jack, or Rip.”



East End, 1888 (II)
by Michael R. Burch

He slouched East
through a steady downpour,
a slovenly beast
befouling each puddle
with bright footprints of blood.

Outlined in a pub door,
lewdly, wantonly, she stood . . .
mocked and brazenly offered.
He took what he could
till she afforded no more.

Now a single bright copper
glints becrimsoned by the door
of the pub where he met her.
He holds to his breast the one part
of her body she was unable to whore,

grips her heart to his wildly stammering heart . . .
unable to forgive or forget her.

Originally published by Penny Dreadful



Evil, the Rat
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

Evil lives in a hole like a rat
and sleeps in its feces,
fearing the cat.

At night it furtively creeps
through the house
while the cat sleeps.

It eats old excrement and gnaws
on steaming dung
and it will pause

between odd bites to sniff through the scat,
twitching and trembling,
for a scent of the cat ...

Evil, the rat.



Temptation
by Michael R. Burch

Jesus was always misunderstood . . .
we have that, at least, in common.

And it’s true that I found him,
shriveled with hunger,
shivering in the desert,
skeletal, emaciate,
not an ounce of fat
to warm his bones
once the bright sun set.

And it’s true, I believe,
that I offered him something to eat—
a fig, perhaps, a pomegranate, or a peach.

Hardly the great “temptation”
of which I’m accused.

He was a likeable chap, really,
and we spent a pleasant hour
discussing God—
how hard He is to know,
and impossible to please.

I left him there, the pale supplicant,
all skin and bone, at the mouth of his cave,
imploring his “Master” on callused knees.

Published in The Bible of Hell (anthology)



Role Reversal
by Michael R. Burch

The fluted lips of statues
mock the bronze gaze
of the dying sun . . .

We are nonplused, they say,
smacking their wet lips,
jubilant . . .

We are always refreshed, always undying,
always young, forever unapologetic,
forever gay, smiling,

and though it seems man has made us,
on his last day, we will see him unmade—
we will watch him decay

as if he were clay,
and we had assumed his flesh,
hissing our disappointment.



Excelsior
by Michael R. Burch

I lift my eyes and laugh, Excelsior . . .
Why do you come, wan spirit, heaven-gowned,
complaining that I am no longer “pure?”

I threw myself before you, and you frowned,
so full of noble chastity, renowned
for leaving maidens maidens. In the dark

I sought love’s bright enchantment, but your lips
were stone; my fiery metal drew no spark
to light the cold dominions of your heart.

What realms were ours? What leasehold? And what claim
upon these territories, cold and dark,
do you seek now, pale phantom? Would you light

my heart in death and leave me ashen-white,
as you are white, extinguished by the Night?



Liar
by Michael R. Burch

Chiller than a winter day,
quieter than the murmur of the sea in her dreams,
eyes wilder than the crystal spray
of silver streams,
you fill my dying thoughts.

In moments drugged with sleep
I have heard your earnest voice
leaving me no choice
save heed your hushed demands
and meet you in the sands
of an ageless arctic world.

There I kiss your lifeless lips
as we quiver in the shoals
of a sea that, endless, rolls
to meet the shattered shore.
Wild waves weep, "Nevermore,"
as you bend to stroke my hair.

That land is harsh and drear,
and that sea is bleak and wild;
only your lips are mild
as you kiss my weary eyes,
whispering lovely lies
of what awaits us there

in a land so stark and bare,
beyond all hope . . . and care.

This is one of my early poems, written as a high school sophomore or junior.



More great ghost stories and other eerie, haunting Halloween poems of note:

La Belle Dame sans Merci by John Keats
Lamia by John Keats
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Mariana by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Haunted Chamber
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Rainy Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Apparition
by John Donne
Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath
Daddy by Sylvia Plath
Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
The Blessed Damozel by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Sudden Light by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Allayne by Kevin N. Roberts
Halloween by Robert Burns
The Giaour by George Gordon, Lord Byron
Darkness by George Gordon, Lord Byron
The Vampire by Rudyard Kipling
The Vampyre by John Stagg
Ghost House by Robert Frost
Low Barometer by Robert Bridges
My Hero Bares His Nerves by Dylan Thomas
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe
The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allan Poe
The White Witch by James Weldon Johnson
The Hag by Robert Herrick
We're All Ghosts Now by Dara Weir
Shadwell Stair by Wilfred Owen
When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats
the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls by e. e. cummings
The Convergence Of The Twain by Thomas Hardy
Cold-Blooded Creatures by Elinor Morton Wylie
Anthem For Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen
The Poor Ghost by Christina Rossetti
Samhain by Annie Finch
The Mystic Trumpeter by Walt Whitman
Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg
Howl by Allen Ginsberg
Dirge by Thomas Lovell Beddoes
Two Ghosts Converse by Emily Dickinson

Related pages: The Best Vampire Poetry, The Best Dark Poetry, The Best Dark Christmas Poems, The Best Halloween Poetry, The Best Supernatural Poetry, The Best Elegies, Dirges & Laments, The Best Thanksgiving Poems

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