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Halloween Frights Dashed By Poetry

Happy Halloween all you scare lovers and all of you that don’t particularly enjoy being scared, like myself!

Halloween can be a fun time of the year for the people who love dressing as someone or something else and grabbing handfuls from the kind old lady next door too old to see that you’re grabbing more than you probably should. The parties and the scare factors are enough to give anyone a rush of adrenaline. Whether that rush is a good one or a bad one wholly depends in the person. As a college student who no longer lives with her parents I can see the allure to dress as whatever I want and party like I’m an immortal.

However, I am a scaredy-cat and will do no such thing.

Growing up my mom never allowed my siblings and I to celebrate Halloween for religious reasons. Even as I kid I wanted to question some of those reasons and at times I still do. But that’s not the point here. The point here is that I never, not once in my entire life went out in a costume to knock on stranger’s doors and expect candy in return. Ever. Forget the religious reasons, just the concept of doing that is a little spooky. I mean, when you’re a kid you’re supposed to have your parent(s) or an adult figure with you while you go out trick or treating way past bedtime. Which is a safer option in my opinion. But as time passes you’re expected to be old enough to go out on your own or with a group of friends and knock on stranger’s doors and expect candy. A little rude but hey, to each their own.

But I digress.

Now that I’m old enough to make my own decisions, religiously or otherwise, added to the fact that every year for the past seventeen years of my life on October 31st I was locked inside the house cleaning – by all reasoning I should want to go out and celebrate Halloween. However, I do not. And why? Because I scare easily! Like really, easy. I don’t even watch horror/thriller films! So now that I’m an adult and I don’t like being scared I’ve filled my time with other things on the scariest day of the year. I’ll read, watch tv, maybe do some homework, clean – because believe it or not I actually enjoy cleaning, and my all-time favorite: sleep.

Sleeping is so nice, just on a face value point of view.

In all seriousness though I really just read until I get sleepy and then I go to bed. So for those of you who don’t enjoy Halloween, or you’re not permitted to enjoy Halloween, or you just really don’t care, here’s some of my favorite poetry to fall back on during the scare season.

  1. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe – It’s safe to say that Poe is a legend. Maybe not as much in his lifetime but it can’t be refuted that after his death Poe made it huge. I remember this poem all the way back to my high school days and loving his works. His poem “The Raven” has become a staple of Halloween. It’s such a great piece that it was even featured on the Halloween episode of the The Simpsons

    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—     While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—             Only this and nothing more.”

        Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.     Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow     From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore— For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—             Nameless here for evermore.

        And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;     So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating     “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door— Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—             This it is and nothing more.”

        Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, “Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;     But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,     And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—             Darkness there and nothing more.

        Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;     But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,     And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?” This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—             Merely this and nothing more.

        Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.     “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;       Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore— Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—             ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

        Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;     Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;     But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door— Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—             Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven, Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore— Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”             Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

        Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;     For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being     Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door— Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,             With such name as “Nevermore.”

        But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.     Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—     Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before— On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”             Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

        Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, “Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store     Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster     Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore— Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore             Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

        But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;     Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking     Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore— What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore             Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

        This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;     This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining     On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er, But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,             She shall press, ah, nevermore!

        Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.     “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee     Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore; Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”             Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

        “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!— Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,     Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—     On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore— Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”             Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

        “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—     Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,     It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore— Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”             Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

        “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting— “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!     Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!     Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”             Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

        And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;     And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,     And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor             Shall be lifted—nevermore!

  2. Halloween Suggestions For Your Ex-Lover by Natasha T Miller – Now this poem is one I always come back to. Sometimes when it’s not even Halloween! The poem is comical honestly, and there’s some real feels in it. I always leave this poem with a laugh and I just can’t get enough of it. I found this poem while going through the Button Poetry Facebook page and I wish I could type it out for you, however I don’t know the proper line and stanza breaks for Miller’s poem. So as not to tarnish her work or misinterpret the form of her poem here is a YouTube link to the poet herself performing her piece. https://youtu.be/5rppYBknVSM

  3. The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs – For my last suggestion of works I’m throwing in The Monkey’s Paw. Obviously this work is not a poem but it is a classic and I can’t just make a Halloween reading list without throwing in a classic like this one. If you haven’t read it, I highly encourage you to do so. And if you have, maybe read it again. It’s like a horror film with any of the visuals right in your face. The Monkey’s Paw is suspenseful, and well written, and it makes you want to scream at character or two – which of course, is the makings of any great thriller. 

And with that I leave you with some interesting reads, or watch(es?) if you followed the link for number two. I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do and have a safe and Happy Halloween!

"Yes I like pina coladas, and gettin' caught in the rain!" - Escape by Rupert Holmes Diondra is a second year double major with English and Spanish and a minor in History. She doesn't want much more out of life than a cozy Proofreading job and some warm tea on the side though. Some say she can be a bit eccentric, and you know what? They'd be right! Diondra loves to be the outlier, she'd whole heatedly embraced that she's different from everyone else and she's made it her trademark and motivation in life. Her family and her education will always come first and even when she's willing to lend a hand to anyone, her price is steep ... If you count listening to bad puns as a steep price!
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