I would say that most people probably don’t regularly read poetry, which is a shame. I certainly understand, though, that it just isn’t a priority for many people. For one thing, it seems romantic—and if you’re cynical, maybe even frivolous. Not to mention that it’s hard to know where to start. I do believe, though, that it has massive inherent value.
For the record, I always have at least one book of poems going. I usually carry a pocket-sized one in my purse. You know what’s more fun that playing the how-high-can-I-get-my-blood-pressure-in-the-checkout-line game? Discovering a fantastic new poem in the checkout line.
Recently I was at our local used bookstore with Hub-a-dub because he wanted to sell some of the DVDs we never watch. I tagged along because, as most of you know, I’m obsessed with physical books and just can’t pass up a trip to my motherland. Our bookstore has a single shelf by the counter when you first walk in where they display seasonal or recently popular titles. Immediately, a little orange-and-black beauty caught my eye.
It turns out that the book is called Poems Bewitched and Haunted (isn’t that just the best title?) and it’s a title in the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets line, of which I have the Robert Frost edition. Wait… a Halloween-decorated horror-themed anthology of poetry in a cover that matches my existing books? Could it possibly be any more predestined? Well, yes. It turns out it cost exactly the amount the bookstore gave my husband for his DVDs. And because Hub-a-dub is ever so sweet and dreamy, of course he bought it for me.
Not to over-romanticize the issue, but I have been enjoying the hell out of it.
All this to say… I love poetry. I wish more people read it, because I truly believe it enriches our lives. Poetry is great year round, but when autumn rolls around and the air hangs chilly and lovers head indoors while children head outside… there’s something magical that invokes poetry. It might help that I have a soft spot for both horror and poetry in general, but there is nothing better than cozying up next to a fire on a cold October night and reading aloud poems that give you chills.
Seriously: poetry is meant to be read out loud. And I, being the generous lady that I am, have compiled a list of 20 of my favorite spooky poems for you to try it on. Some of them are horrifying. Some are atmospheric. Some are a little melancholy. I’ve mixed free verse and rhyme, short and long, serious and playful. (I have, by the way, only included those poems I could find online to link to, as I know asking people to go buy books in search of poems is a bit unrealistic.) My hope is that among these varied beauties you’ll find at least one or two that delight you in some special way, whatever your poetic preferences.
Where to start? With the classics, of course.
“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
“Lamia (Left to herself)” by John Keats
Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I by William Shakespeare
“Two Ghosts Converse” by Emily Dickinson
“The Haunted Chamber” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Loving it? Try these lesser-known works.
“The Sleeper” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Snow-Fiend” by Ann Radcliffe
“Will-O’-the-wisp” by Madison Cawein
“The Hexli (Little Witch)” by Johann Peter Hebel, translated by James Gates Percival
“Sonnet 100” by Lord Brooke Fulke Greville
“The Listeners” by Walter De La Mare
If you’ll forgive a little bit of self-promotion…
“To Walk Again”
“The Centipede,” Underneath the Juniper Tree, September 2011 Issue (page 74)
“Dragging the Waters,” Phantom Kangaroo, Issue no. 7
“Shades of Blue,” Hello Horror, Issue 3
“Still, It Pulls me,” New Myths, Issue 27
Need something playful to brighten the corners before you head to bed?
Still not sure where to start? Comment below with your poetic preferences and I’ll try to cherry-pick one just for you.
Do you have a favorite Halloween poem? A spooky go-to that I didn’t list? Share below!Share this: