Saturday, October 1, 2016

3 Poems for Halloween

I'm always looking for ways to give a nod to holidays in the secondary and college classroom without overtly celebrating them. So here I've rounded up a few poems that you can use in any English class to "celebrate" Halloween.

British Literature:

The Apparatition- John Donne

When by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead
     And that thou think'st thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign'd vestal, in worse arms shall see;
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tir'd before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
     Thou call'st for more,
And in false sleep will from thee shrink;
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou
Bath'd in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lie
     A verier ghost than I.
What I will say I will not tell thee now,
Lest that preserve thee; and since my love is spent,
I'had rather thou shouldst painfully repent,
Than by my threat'nings rest still innocent.

American Literature:

Because I could not stop for Death -Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-
And Immortality.

We slowly drove- He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility-
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –  
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –  
We passed the Setting Sun – 

Or rather – He passed us – 
The Dews drew quivering and chill – 
For only Gossamer, my Gown – 
My Tippet – only Tulle – 

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground – 
The Roof was scarcely visible – 
The Cornice – in the Ground – 

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads 
Were toward Eternity – 
World Literature:

Hallow-E'en, 1915 -Winifred M. Letts (Irish)
Will you come back to us, men of our hearts, to-night 
In the misty close of the brief October day? 
Will you leave the alien graves where you sleep and steal away 
To see the gables and eaves of home grow dark in the evening light? 

O men of the manor and moated hall and farm, 
Come back to-night, treading softly over the grass; 
The dew of the autumn dusk will not betray where you pass; 
The watchful dog may stir in his sleep but he’ll raise no hoarse alarm. 

Then you will stand, not strangers, but wishful to look 
At the kindly lamplight shed from the open door, 
And the fire-lit casement where one, having wept you sore, 
Sits dreaming alone with her sorrow, not heeding her open book. 

Forgotten awhile the weary trenches, the dome 
Of pitiless Eastern sky, in this quiet hour 
When no sound breaks the hush but the chimes from the old church tower, 
And the river’s song at the weir,—ah! then we will welcome you home. 

You will come back to us just as the robin sings 
Nunc Dimittis from the larch to a sun late set 
In purple woodlands; when caught like silver fish in a net 
The stars gleam out through the orchard boughs and the church owl flaps his wings. 

We have no fear of you, silent shadows, who tread 
The leaf-bestrewn paths, the dew-wet lawns. Draw near 
To the glowing fire, the empty chair,—we shall not fear, 
Being but ghosts for the lack of you, ghosts of our well-beloved dead.
Need something ready to go? Check out my Fall Poetry set or my Edgar Allan Poe assignments.

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