by Paul Laurence Dunbar

October is the treasurer of the year,
And all the months pay bounty to her store;
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.

She heedeth not how swift the hours fly,
But smiles and sings her happy life along;
She only sees above a shining sky;
She only hears the breezes' voice in song.
Her garments trail the woodlands through,
And gather pearls of early dew
That sparkle, till the roguish Sun
Creeps up and steals them every one.

But what cares she that jewels should be lost,
When all of Nature's bounteous wealth is hers?
Though princely fortunes may have been their cost,
Not one regret her calm demeanor stirs.
Whole-hearted, happy, careless, free,
She lives her life out joyously,
Nor cares when Frost stalks o'er her way
And turns her auburn locks to gray.

by Orville Henry Leonard

I know that across those mountains
Lies a country about like this,
And I know that poisoned fountains
Fringe the way, and the rattlers' hiss
Is sibilant on that blistering trail,
    And the sand is like the sea,
But the Will-o'-the-Wisp of the desert
    Is a-beckoning to me.

I know that others both skilled and bold
Have taken this trail before,
Hunting long for the yellow gold,
Only to come back worn and sore —
That is, if they ever came back at all —
    And though all this I know,
When the Will-o'-the-Wisp of the desert calls
    I pack my jack and go.

The cactus grows and flaunts its rose
Beside the trail my burro takes.
The hot day comes, the hot day goes,
Desert night wind the whole world shakes.
Then a dancing light in the velvet dark
    Afar on the waste I see,
And I know that the desert Will-o'-the-Wisp
    Is flashing his light at me.

His elfin light is of fancy made.
Yet he jeers at me like a clown
By flashing scenes of liquid shade
On the noon sky, but upside down,
For he carries slides with his lantern by day
    To tease me maliciously.
Though I know he's the Will-o'-the-Wisp, yet I swear
    That he's holding a cup to me.

He has no form, he has no face,
He has only a dancing light
To lure me on from place to place —
To every place but the right.
Though I stumble and faint and burn with thirst,
    I follow hopefully,
For the Will-o'-the-Wisp of the desert
    Is waving his light to me.


by Louisa Humphreys

Canice the priest went out on the Night of Souls;
    "Stay, oh stay," said the woman who served his board
"Stay, for the path is strait with pits and holes,
    And the night is dark and the way is lone abroad;
Stay within because it is lone, at least."
"Nay, it will not be lone," said Canice the priest.

Dim without, and a dim, low-sweeping sky;
    A scent of earth in the night, of opened mould;
A listening pause in the night—and a breath passed by—
    And its touch was cold, was cold as the graves are cold
Canice went on to the waste where no men be;
"Nay, I will not be lone to-night," said he.

Shades that flit, besides the shades of the night;
    Rustling sobs besides the sobs of the wind;
Steps of feet that pace with his on the right,
    Steps that pace on the left, and steps behind.
"Nay, no fear that I shall be lone, at least!
Lo, there are throngs abroad," said Canice the priest.

Deathly hands that pluck at his cassock's hem;
    Sighings of earthly breath that smite his cheek;
Canice the priest swings on, atune with them,
    Hears the throbbings of pain, and hears them speak;
Hears the word they utter, and answers "Yea!
Yea, poor souls, for I heed; I pray, I pray."

Lo, a gleam of gray, and the dark is done;
    Hark, a bird that trills a song of the light.
Canice hies him home by the shine of the sun.
    What to-day of those pallid wraiths of the night?
What of the woeful notes that had wailed and fled?
"Maria, ora pro illis!" Canice said.
by Pamela Grey

One day when Father and I had been
To sell our sheep at Berwick Green
We reached the farm house late at night
A great moon rising round and bright.

Her strange beam shed on all around
Bewitched the trees and streams and ground.
Changing the willows beyond the stacks
To little old men with crouching backs.

To-day the sun was shining plain
They all were pollarded willows again.
But at night—do you believe they're trees ?
They're little old men with twisted knees.


by C. Jennie Swaine

Gay elfins flit under the holm's broad sheen,
As the first star rises on Halloween;
And goblins and fairies, a weird-like band,
Dance 'neath the shadow of sweet tryst-land.

They ride through the air in their chariots small;
They sail through the spray of the water-fall;
They float through the billows of moon-light sweet,
And glide through the forest with noiseless feet.

Sweet fairy band, whose footsteps unseen
Are lost in the frost-pearls of Halloween!
It is said that ye open, with mystic hand,
The gateway that leads to Arcana land.

What is the secret the future unfolds?
What are the gifts which its fairy-land holds ?
Are they all which a dream foreshows
When the rainbow of promise upon it glows ?

O Halloween, open thy vista gate,
And reveal through the rose-tints the lines of fate ;
Reflect in thy mirror our bloom-days bright,
And leave all the shadow-days veiled in night.

Give the hero the heritage for spoil,
Give the toiler the measure-meed of toil,
And thy dreamland glories, sweet Halloween,
The Elysium of meet reward shall seem.

Show thou to us the charmed life that lives
On the festal bounty of what it gives,
And we 'll learn that 't is better to write one's name
On the human heart than on heights of fame.

Weave your bright spell, elves of Halloween!
O'er a servile enchantress; but work is queen.
And no better can be the sorcerer's wand
Than the laurel's green and the palm-tree's frond.



I love this haunt.
by Henry Lee Fisher

Among the bonnio winding banks
Wnere Doon rins wbimplin clear;
Whore Bruce once ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear.
Some merry, friendly, countra folks
Together did convene
To burn their nits an pou' their stocks
An' baud their Halloween
Fu' blythe that night.

How gay and jolly was the night—
Of many an old-time Halloween ;
A feast for saints, all-holy, all,
Yet very seldom, if at all,
A sober saint was to be seen
At such a feast, for, little meat
There was prepared for saints to eat.

On Halloween in other lands,
From whence our worthy fathers came—
Among Auld Scotia's storied hills,
Along its babbling brooks and rills,
So rich in rare poetic fame,
Witches and wizards, elves and de'ils
Joined in the merry mid-night reels.

But true and honest country-folks—
Folks young and gay and single—
Those true and honest country-folks
Once played their charms and cracked their jokes
Around the cheerful, blazing, ''ingle,''
And pulled and ''shouthered runts o' kail''
And cracked their nuts and drank their ale.

A youthful couple, hand in hand,
And very closely bandaged eyes,
Would, thus, into the garden walk,
And, blindly pull a cabbage-stalk
Whose form and features, shape, and size
'Twas understood, were true to life,
Of future husband or of wife.

So, were the tedious hours beguiled
By many a merry lad and lass :
In kail and flax, in nuts and yarn,
In midnight winnowings in the barn,
Or looking in the magic glass,
The airy being sought and feared,
In some mysterious way appeared.

O, many were the strange mishaps
Of many a rude and luckless wight;
And many were the tricks and charms,
And many were the wild alarms,
On that wild, weird mysterious, night!
And many an ancient legend tells
Of fairy dance and wizard-spells ;

Among the rugged rocks and caves,
Dim lighted by the friendly moon—
Upon the weird winding banks
“Where Bruce ance ruled his martial ranks”—
The storied banks “O, Bonny Doon,”
As every reader knows who turns
The mellow leaves of Robert Burns.

In this unstoried land of ours
Not such was merry Halloween;
No random pulling of the “kail,”
No roasting nuts, no foaming ale,
No dance upon the homestead green;
No sowing of the hemp or flax
Nor pulling straws from oaten stacks.

With far less rev'rence for the saints
Or faith in charms or magic spell—
To superstition less inclined,
In magic arts, all unrefined—
Our old time Halloweens but smelled
Of cabbages, which by the scores
We hurled against the neighbors' doors.

The battering-rams of ancient times,
Or modern arts and arms of war—
The mortars, bombs, and bursting shells,
With union shouts and rebel yells
And angry, belching, cannons' roar,
All were but tame and quiet scenes
Compared with our old Halloweens.

A rustic regiment of boys,
And rustic girls as brave as they,
Well armed with sturdy cabbage-heads
While honest folks, all in their beds
In peaceful dreams and slumbers lay,
In rude, but old-time—honored sport
Assailed the undefended fort.

One such bombardment I recall—
At good old neighbor Johnny Brown's ;
To see what all this was about,
Old Johnny and his dame came out
In their nocturnal, nether gowns,
When lo ! a well-directed runt
Struck Johnny in—well, not in front.

Dumbfounded, he, a moment stood
Beneath the overhanging eaves ,
While '' bursting shells '' their fragments threw,
And all around the pieces flew—
Runts, broken hearts and shatter'd leaves ;
What wonder he should run in fear
From such hell-fire in his rear.

Though many more as stout as he,
Such furious fire might not withstand ;
Yet, fearless, valiant, Mrs. Brown,
More brave than Johnny, stood her ground,
With broomstick in her sturdy hand—
She'd break the first one's head, she said,
Who'd throw another cabbage-head.

And now, old Johnny re-appeared,
A looking quite subdued, though grieved
'Twas Halloween! was our excuse,
Inscribed upon a flag of truce,
And so respected and received
By Johnny, and his valiant dame,
Whose honored guests we now became.

We gathered up the kail debris
That lay about the porch and door ;
We gathered 'round the blazing hearth,
And there we swore, for what 'twas worth,

That we would do so, never more ;
But understood, “no more” to mean,
No more 'till next year's Halloween.

Of this our mental reservation,
Nor John, nor Betsy ever knew,
Their house and hearts were open, wide,
And of their best they did provide
And sent not far—for fiddling Joe;
For, Joe was never far away
When there were tunes or tricks to play.

And in the great old fire-place—
That heaven for darkies here below,
Upon a block he sat him down,
Unenvious of a monarch's crown,
And rosin'd up his ready bow,
While itching toes and buoyant heels
Stood ready for the rustic reels.

And soon the merry dance began
As over the oaken kitchen floor
We danced with all the young Miss. Browns—
Clad in their linsey-woolsey gowns—
Until our very toes were sore ;
While old folks, freed from care and toil
Sat, smoked, and quaffed their cider-oil.

And while the dance was going on,
A panel of the kitchen door
Flew out; and thereupon a runt flew in
And hit old Johnny on the shin !
What wonder that he cursed and swore
By all the saints, “the devil was loose
And riding on a tailor's goose.”

But maugre all, the dance went on—
No hitch nor halting in Scotch reels ,
The more old Johnny cried, "aye! aye!"
The thicker did the cabbage fly—
The faster went the clattering heels;
'Till John and Betsy, both, cried out,
"There's witches, elves, and de'ils about] "

In came another company
Of merry boys and merrier girls,
Alert with playful pranks and freaks—
With sparkling eyes and glowing cheeks,
And O, what waving, flowing curls,
To add new beauty to the scene,
On that good old-time Halloween.

“More water on our mill!” we cried,—
And then, again, the dance went on;
And many a runt was kicked around,
And many a heart was crushed and ground,
And many went where more had gone—
Across the fence to feed the pigs,
Whilst we kept dancing reels and jigs!

Old Betty sezied the poker, then,
And stirred the dull and waning fire ;
Ten thousand sparks arose and flew,
Like meteors, up the chimney-flue—
And swift as meteors they expired ;
So do our merry times and friends—
So we, when death the pageant ends.

At length, the old folks went to bed—
To speak politely, they retired ;
But we danced on till past midnight,
And sang and played till near daylight,
But never, never, were too tired,
Nor ever thought it sin or harm
To put Smith's wagon on his barn.

In fact, this was the final act
In serio-comic Halloween;
Nor was the play esteemed complete
Without this mad, Herculean feat—
And foolish, final midnight scene;
And who, but neighbor Johnny Brown,
Should help Smith get his wagon down ?

Farewell to dear old Halloween—
To merry song and dance and play;
To home and hearth and back-log-fire—
The torch that did our hearts inspire
When life was young and spirits gay;
Farewell to all the hallowed scenes
That blessed and cheered our Halloweens.

But, still, the world is better, now—
O, Progress! O, Reform! Reform!
Instead of throwing cabbage-runts—
Against our neighbors' French plate fronts,
The boys and girls throw grains of com
And I sing in these homespun rhymes
The cultured manners of the times.
I'm a big believer in the notion that poetry belongs to the reader.  Actually, I'd like to expand that to the world belongs to the individual.  Interpret and enjoy at will.  To that end, in my world, this poem is about a burgeoning banshee.

by Francis S. Smith

Come, night, sad night, and let me hide
My wretchedness in thee!
Nurse in thy gloom my woman's pride,
My heart's deep agony!
Thy sombre shadows suit me well,
My trouble and unrest
Are suited to thy darksome spell—
'Tis night within my breast.

The flowers that bloom at early morn
To some may beauteous be,
But those that ope at night's approach
Are dearer far to me.
The first like sunshine friends may smile
In fortune's happy light,
The latter will our griefs beguile
In sorrow's gloomy night.

Though bright the glorious orb of day,
It has no charm for me;
I would not have a single ray
Shine on my misery.
Like the crushed flower upon the plain,
Dust-covered from the sight,
So would I hide my loathsome stain
In everlasting night.

I love the dark-robed night, for she
Shares all my bitter grief;
She has a sigh in every breeze,
A tear on every leaf;
And while the moon looks sadly down,
The stars shed, as they glow,
A ray of sorrowing light that seems
Like sympathetic woe.
by Walter de la Mare

"Who knocks?" "I, who was beautiful,
Beyond all dreams to restore,
I, from the roots of the dark thorn am hither,
And knock on the door."

"Who speaks?" "I,—once was my speech
Sweet as the bird's on the air.
When echo lurks by the waters to heed;
'Tis I speak thee fair."

"Dark is the hour!" "Aye, and cold."
"Lone is my house." "Ah, but mine?"
"Sight, touch, lips, eyes yearn in vain."
"Long dead these to thine...."

Silence. Still faint on the porch
Brake the flames of the stars.
In gloom groped a hope-wearied hand
Over keys, bolts and bars.

A face peered. All the grey night
In chaos of vacancy shone;
Nought but vast Sorrow was there—
The sweet cheat gone.