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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Three Classic Poems For Halloween

1

Theodosia Garrison - A Ballad of Halloween

All night the wild ivind on the heath
Whistled its song of vague alarms;
The poplars tossed their naked arms
All night in some mad dance of death.
Mignon Isa hath left her bed
And bared her shoulders to the blast;
The long procession of the dead
Stared at her as it passed.
"Oh, there, methinks, my mother smiled,
And there my father walks forlorn,
And there the little nameless child
That was the parish scorn.
" And there my olden comrades move,
And there my sister smiles apart.
But nowhere is the fair, false love
That broke my loving heart.
" Oh, false in life, oh, false in death,
Wherever thy mad spirit be,
Could it not come this night," she saith,
" To keep a tryst with me?"
Mignon Isa hath turned alone;
Bitter the pain and long the years;
The moonlight on the cold gravestone
Was warmer than her tears.
All night the wild wind on the heath
Whistled its song of vague alarms;
The poplars tossed their naked arms
All night in some mad dance of death.




2

Edgar Alan Poe - To -- -- --. Ulalume: A Ballad


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,

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


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


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





3


Edith Wharton - All Souls 

I

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


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


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


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


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


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


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












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