From a depction of All Hallows' Day (All Saints Day)Two Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) Poems The Society October 31, 2018 Culture, Poetry 13 Comments Hallowe’en by Sheri-Ann O’Shea Oh! Hallowe’en is not about the grave __Or ghosts or horrors fit to make men rave It’s not about black witches and black cats __Or goats or toads or spider webs or bats There’s nought in it of skeletons in chains __Or blood or leering heads protruding brains Or grinning pumpkins lighted from within __Or sound recordings making dreadful din The moans and groans, the creaking door, the screams __The notion that your nightmares aren’t mere dreams What sickness is it in us that craves fear? __And what perverse delight holds evil dear? What view of education and of care __Sends children trick-or-treating every year? All Hallow’s Eve anticipates a Feast __The godly from the bonds of earth released The glory of the saints in heav’n above __Their joyful ecstasy of endless love Whose brightness fills our eyes and draws us on __To go where faithful souls alone have gone If they, like us, were weak and sinful men __They give us hope that we may rise again And tread the path of Calvary to the Cross __Nor turn aside nor dread no earthly loss They all behold us with the eyes of friends __Each one to some lost lamb his arm extends Oh no! there’s really nothing fearful here __Just members of a family most dear And over all there reigns the goodliest King – __They see and love and are possessed by Him. Sheri-Ann O’Shea is a South African-born teacher, now living in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and three lively boys. All Hallows’ Eve by Adam J. Sedia The moon is full, The trees are bare, Dead leaves glide through The cool, dry air. The night is silent as a grave, Or some deep, dark, unfathomed cave Beneath the stars’ cold stare. The silence breaks With hollow moans And beastly snarls And clacking bones: The God-forsaken, restless dead Awaken from their earthen bed Beneath cold, carven stones. Their din grows loud And twice more dread Than piercing screams Or blood fresh-shed. Out from the very depths of Hell They slink, too terrible to tell: The cursed and restless dead. Their summoners Shriek shrill with joy As they behold That grim convoy. By potions, charms, and arcane verse They placed this night beneath a curse And bade the dead deploy. Assembled now, That fiendish crowd Swarms dizzily And hails aloud The thousand execrable names Of him who reigns in acrid flames, In doom’s eternal shroud. The chaos of The hellish throng Soon dies away, But not for long: More fearsome than the din before, Their voices join as one and roar A wild, infernal song: “Praise the one Once bright as sun, Who dared defy The Three-in-One. “And so he fell Too far to tell, To reign as king, Our king, in Hell. “He dared to bring Death’s dreadful sting To Earth, to gain His following. “He first laid eye On man, and by His sweetened tongue He made man die! “Alas! Our wrong Prevailed not long, Soon overcome By One more strong. “Still, bubbling from Hell’s fires, we come Up to this sphere In massive sum. “Behold our sheer, Brute strength and hear Our battle-cry And quake with fear! “We venture out To thrash about This world of men And win our rout, “For thus we can Complete the plan Our master spun When time began. “Now, to our feet – To prowl the street And visit doom On all we greet!” Then off they fly With roars and shrieks, A putrid mass Of loathsome freaks. In frenzied swarms, they pierce and tear Throughout the land; they fill the air And choke it with their reeks. No soul is safe, No home secure, No heart so strong It could endure That mob, accursed from Above, Bereft of life, devoid of love, Whose doom is swift and sure! With sharpened claws And bloodstained sneer, They plunge the world In abject fear, Let loose for what they most enjoy: To slay, burn, terrorize, destroy, And raise Hell’s horrors here. Their rampage, though, Must cease at last, For in the east The day comes fast. Though theirs was cold and shadowed night, They now must yield to breaking light That fells them with a blast. With that first ray, A piercing cry From all the ghouls Cuts through the sky. Dawn breaks! At last the Day of Saints, Expels them back to their restraints In flames that never die. Great Michael leads A countless host For Father, Son, And Holy Ghost. With eagle wings and flaming swords They charge and rout the demon hordes And squelch their one night’s boast. Then through the clouds Pure music flies. A radiant choir Circles the skies: The saints who fasted, prayed, and bled, Whose faith has conquered death and dread, Have come, all come to grace the earth As testament to second birth In Light that never dies. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 13 Responses Monty October 31, 2018 Phew! I dunno yet what to say about these; I’ll have to think about it for a bit . . Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 31, 2018 Concerning the first poem (“Hallowe’en”), I am reminded of what my good friend the late poet Henry George Fischer used to say about near-rhymes and slant-rhymes and off-rhymes. They were acceptable tools of the trade, said Henry, as long as they DID NOT SERVE AS CLOSURE for an otherwise rhyming poem. Ending the poem with the non-rhyme of “King” and “Him” spoils everything else. Reply Cadwel E. Bruise November 6, 2018 I wonder what Mr. Fischer would have said about the following lyric by Emily Dickinson? A Bird came down the Walk— He did not know I saw— He bit an Angleworm in halves And ate the Fellow, raw, And then he drank a Dew From a convenient Grass— And then hopped sidewise to the Wall To let a Beetle pass— He glanced with rapid eyes That hurried all abroad— They looked like frightened Beads, I thought— He stirred his Velvet Head— Like one in danger, Cautious, I offered him a Crumb, And he unrolled his feathers And rowed him softer Home— Than Oars divide the Ocean, Too silver for a seam— Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon, Leap, plashless as they swim. Reply James A. Tweedie October 31, 2018 Sheri-Ann, A small bump at the end but otherwise I give your double sonnet the grade of Wow+! I am, of course, somewhat biased towards the subject, but even so, you carried the theme through to a triumphant conclusion. There are many good phrases here but I particularly liked “They all behold us with the eyes of friends.” That is one of the best descriptions of the “cloud of witnesses” that I have heard for a long time! Well done, and thank you. Adam, a very different poem in both tone and form, and yet you and Sheri-Ann reach the same conclusion! You chose a challenging poetic form and sustained it without a hitch. The contrasting interlude was innovative and set the stage for the dramatic return to the original structure and an All Hallow’s triumph. From beginning to end of your poem, in my mind I was hearing Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” playing along as background accompaniment. Your verse was as powerful as the music, which is high praise, indeed! Reply Joseph Tessitore October 31, 2018 “Bravo” to you both! Wonderful poetry! Reply Damian Robin October 31, 2018 Magnificent poems describing Horror and its destruction. In this short film. linked below, there is hope and resiliance; but the Evil has not been vanquished. https://tinyurl.com/y9ssxfwb https://preview.tinyurl.com/y9ssxfwb Reply Monty October 31, 2018 I glanced over both poems earlier in the day before I had to leave the house; and realised immediately that they deserved far more time than I then had. Upon returning home just now, I’ve since dedicated many minutes to both poems . . and I feel that they’re both epic epics. Reading them was, for me, like listening to a Dylan song: where one becomes so wrapped-up in the story, one doesn’t know when it’s gonna end.. and five or six minutes seems like twenty. I can sometimes come away from a Dylan song feeling like I’ve just watched a 90-minute film . . and this was the feeling I got from the above poems. They’re both so cleverly and carefully worded; and they carry the reader along so fluently and fluidly . . allowing one to become totally enwrapped in the themes. Sheri-Ann . . I’m a bit old-fashioned, me: and I never condone the non-usage of full-stops and commas . . but in Hallowe’en, the omittance of such seems to enhance the flow. But I did find myself wondering why ya chose to use commas in lines 9 and 21 . . and nowhere else. In line 9, if ya felt the need to insert commas after ‘groans’ and ‘door’.. why not after ‘screams’, where it seems, to me, to be indispensable? Regarding the half-rhymes highlighted by Mr Salemi at the end of the 2nd verse (and the same at the end of the 1st verse: care/year): I can’t pretend that such imbalances don’t grate with me . . they always do. But in this instance, in the light of such a carefully-considered piece of work; I feel that I can get over it. Adam . . This is pure poetry of the highest order: so expertly crafted into an uncommon form. And such unwavering discipline in its metrical-equality and full-rhymes. And, my, doesn’t it flow along well, allowing the reader’s absorption to become effortless. On top of which, all of the above is contained within such an imaginative and relatable interpretation of Halloween . . which renders it, in my eyes, an absolute masterpiece. Reply David Watt November 1, 2018 Both poems are cleverly written and powerfully descriptive. “All Hallows Eve” struck me as truly epic, yet still engaging from beginning to end. Reply Sheri-Ann O’Shea November 1, 2018 Thanks to readers for helpful and appreciative comments! S-A Reply Wilbur Dee Case November 1, 2018 Ms. O’Shea’s “Hallowe’en” is a striking poem in many ways. First, her unpunctuated, heroic couplets carry remarkable substance. If not as refined as those of Pope or Wheatley, they nevertheless carry disciplined argument. They are the type of lines one misses in the New Millennium, logical and cogent. Notice the following couplet: Or grinning pumpkins lighted from within Or sound recordings making dreadful din. The first line encapsulates an idea clearly and succinctly; on that particular image, I think better than anyone in our language; and note the assonance and internal rhyme. Although Ms. O’Shea can take this remark with a grain of salt, as many do here @ SPC, and elsewhere: I really like the approximate rhyme right at the conclusion. Its slight discord is remarkable, on a level of that achieved, in my mind, only by Dickinson. Reply S-A November 11, 2018 To be compared to Dickinson, and even NOT quite to Pope, is praise I know how to value. Thank you. Reply Waldeci Erebus November 1, 2018 Adam Sedia’s “All Hallow’s Eve” is a fine poem. I like the poem better than Dryden’s “Saint Celia’s Day”. It has the clarity of Coleridge in his “Rime”, and the varied strains of Poe in his “Bells”. It reminds me of the kind of poetry Mr. Gosselin and Mr. Krusch approach. Note the brilliance of the opening stanza: The moon is full, The trees are bare, Dead leaves glide through The cool, dry air. The night is silent, as a grave, or some deep, dark, unfathomed cave Beneath the stars cold stare. The simplicity of the diction, the dead-panned quality of the tone, and the remarkable iambic pacing all combine to set the scene, as carefully as Poe or Hawthorne in their short stories. Note, as well, the excellent use of a spondee at its conclusion. Though the poem lacks Shakespeare’s dramatic power and remarkable colouring, seen even in a smaller work, like “The Phoenix and the Turtle”, or Milton’s epic power, seen even in his shorter poems, like L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, and Lycidas, it refines echoes of their poetry, and Donne’s, I think. I hear them all in Sedia’s off-handed phrases, as, for example, in the middle section, which reminds me of a more refined cross between Hecate (Thomas Middleton’s? iambic tetrametres) and the Witches (Shakespeare’s trochaic tetrametres) in “Macbeth”. Mr. Med correctly notes the smoothness of the artistry, which I think marks this as a potentially anthologized piece for our era; and I also agree with Mr. Tweedie on its musicality, strains of Mussorgsky could serve as a background, or perhaps Berlioz, Gounod, or Mahler. Reply Adam Sedia November 2, 2018 Thank you for the comments. It is humbling to have my work discussed in the same sentences as so many great names. Reply Leave a Reply to S-A Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.