Halloween Poems. Photo: KnowInsiders
Halloween Poems. Photo: KnowInsiders

Some of literature's best-known poets have been inspired to write dark verses that have lingered through the ages like a specter. Maybe you'll find a spooky favorite among these 10 poems, perfect for Halloween or anytime you feel mysterious.

#1. It's Halloween

by Jack Prelutsky

It's Halloween! It's Halloween!

The moon is full and bright

And we shall see what can't be seen

On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,

Grinning goblins fighting duels,

Werewolves rising from their tombs,

Witches on their magic brooms.

In masks and gowns

we haunt the street

And knock on doors

for trick or treat.

Tonight we are the king and queen,

For oh tonight it's Halloween!

#2. Night Of Fright

By Jasmine

Monsters stalking through the night.

Halloween is the Night of Fright.

Fear is what this night brings,

Along with many other things.

Are you sure you are prepared?

Tonight is not for the easily scared.

Creatures from hell roam on this night,

For tonight is the Night of Fright.

Trick or treat you say,

You should not have waited until the end of the day.

Tonight you will lose your tricks and treats,

For the monsters need to eat.

You better not take this night lightly,

Or else you will truly learn what fright means.

In ancient times people feared this night,

The night they greeted with fright.

Why they were so scared you will soon see,

On this "All Hollows' Eve."

#3. This Place is Haunted

By Richard Jones

In screaming woods and empty rooms

or gloomy vaults and sunken tombs;

Where monks and nuns in dust decay

and shadows dance at close of day.

Where the bat dips on the wing

and spectral choirs on breezes sing;

Where swords of ancient battles clash

and shimmering shades for freedom dash.

Where raging storms at midnight howl

and distant rolls of thunder growl.

Where the hounds of hell take flight

and ghost clouds race across the night.

Where silver webs of spiders weave

and star-crossed lovers take their leave.

Where curses lay the spirits low

and mortal footsteps fear to go.

Where death holds life in grim embrace

its lines etched on the sinner's face.

Where e'er the march of time is flaunted

voices cry - "this place is haunted."

#4. From the Lady of the Manor

By George Crabbe

Next died the Lady who yon Hall possessed;

And here they brought her noble bones to rest.

In Town she dwelt:- forsaken stood the Hall:

Worms ate the floors, the tapestry fled the wall:

No fire the kitchens cheerless grate displayed;

No cheerful light the long-closed sash conveyed;

The crawling worm, that turns a summer-fly,

Here spun his shroud and laid him up to die

The winter-death:- upon the bed of sate,

The bat shrill-shrieking wooed his flickering mate;

To empty rooms the curious came no more,

From empty cellars turned the angry poor,

And surly beggars cursed the ever-bolted door.

#5. Mystic Magination Night!

By Patricia L. Cisco

On one mystic, magic night,

Jack O Lanterns glowing bright,

kids with bags of candy sweet,

roam door to door and street to street,

all dressed up for trick or treat!

Wizards with wands, pirates with hooks,

monsters and clowns with spooky looks,

kings and queens with capes and crowns,

a princess in her royal gown,

witches with warts and fairies with wings

movies stars with sparkling rings,

vampires with fangs that bite,

ghost that boo all dressed in white.

Imaginations taken flight,

on that one mystic, magic night.

Oh, the fun of Halloween,

be young or old or in between!

#6. Homecoming

By Anne Pollock

Shiver me timbers, rattle me bones,

it's All Hallows' Eve, and I'm on me way home.

Home to me wifey, me Katy, me best--

been three hundred years since they laid us to rest.

Through bolted door I'll slither,

one night alone I'll stay;

though shrieking mortals scatter,

naught shall bar the way.

Sure I am to find her as in the bygone days,

knitting me tatters and mending me frays;

rocking and turning a pale, toothy grin

to greet her dear Johnny and welcome me in.

Loosed from the grave to become the walking dead,

we'll toast our health with a bottle of red;

then taunt our hosts with stories retold

of the good old days before we grew mold.

Haunting the house we once called home,

one night of the year with Katy, me own.

Teasing and carousing 'til the crack of dawn

When I lose her again to the black beyond.

#7. From the Haunted Palace

By Edgar Allen Poe

And travellers, now, within that valley

Through the red-litten windows see

Vast forms, that move fantastically

To a discordant melody

While, like a ghastly rapid river

Through the pale door

A hideous throng rush out forever

And laugh - but smile no more.

Photo: futureofworking
Photo: futureofworking

#8. From the City of Dreadful Night

By James Thomson (B. V.)

A shadowy figure.

The City is of Night, but not of Sleep;

There sweet sleep is not for the weary brain;

The pitiless hours like years and ages creep

A night seems termless hell. This dreadful strain

Of thought and consciousness which never ceases

Or which some moments' stupor but increases

This, worse than woe, makes wretches there insane.

They leave all hope behind who enter there:

One certitude while sane they cannot leave

One anodyne for torture and despair;

The certitude of Death, which no reprieve

Can put off long; and which, divinely tender

But waits the outstretched hand to promptly render

That draught whose slumber nothing can bereave.

#9. The Stolen Child

By W. B. Yeats

The Fairy Pool on the Isle of Skye.

Where dips the rocky highland

Of Sleuth Wood in the lake

There lies a leafy island

Where flapping herons wake

The drowsy water rats;

There we've hid our faery vats

Full of berrys

And of reddest stolen cherries.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand

For the world's more full of weeping

than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses

The dim gray sands with light

Far off by furthest Rosses

We foot it all the night

Weaving olden dances

Mingling hands and mingling glances

Till the moon has taken flight;

To and fro we leap

And chase the frothy bubbles

While the world is full of troubles

And anxious in its sleep.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand

For the world's more full of weeping

than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car

In pools among the rushes

That scarce could bathe a star

We seek for slumbering trout

And whispering in their ears

Give them unquiet dreams;

Leaning softly out

From ferns that drop their tears

Over the young streams.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand

For the world's more full of weeping

than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,

The solemn-eyed:

He'll hear no more the lowing

Of the calves on the warm hillside

Or the kettle on the hob

Sing peace into his breast

Or see the brown mice bob

Round and round the oatmeal chest.

For he comes, the human child

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand

For the world's more full of weeping

than he can understand.

#10. My Next Door Neighbor Is A Witch

By Samiya Vallee

My next door neighbor is a witch,

And she lives way down in a ditch.

Her clothing is a little strange,

Because she never wants to change.

She has a black robe and a black hat,

Green skin and a smelly black cat.

A big fat wart grows on her nose,

And seventeen pimples on her toes.

But...her food is EVEN worse,

Because she eats it course by course.

Her first course is seven dead bats,

Laid on top of seven rats.

Then she has twenty flies

With lots and lots of llama eyes.

Her main course is a horrible soup,

Because it's made with doggie poop.

But worst of all is her dessert.

It's little children rolled in dirt.

Last night she had a witch's feast

And turned into a greedy beast.

I think she cooked my best friend Tilly

And ate her with some peas and broccoli.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/my-next-door-neighbor-is-a-witch

#11. Happy Halloween

It's late and we are sleepy,

The air is cold and still.

Our jack-o-lantern grins at us

Upon the window sill.

We're stuffed with cake and candy

And we've had a lot of fun,

But now it's time to go to bed

And dream of all we've done.

We'll dream of ghosts and goblins

And of witches that we've seen,

And we'll dream of trick-or-treating

On this happy Halloween.

#12. All Hallowe'en

by Pauline Clark

Witch and warlock all abroad

Revels keep by field and yard.

In the firelight of the farm

Boy and maiden one by one

Place their chestnuts in the grate

And for omens quietly wait;

To a string their apples tie,

Twirl them till they fallen lie;

Those whose fruits fall in a hurry,

They shall be the first to marry.

Witch and warlock all abroad

Revels keep by field and yard.

Apples from the beam hang down

To be caught by mouth alone,

Mugs of ale on Nut-Crack Night

And many a tale of ghost and sprite,

Come to cheer and chill the heart,

While the candles faint and start,

While the flickering firelight paints

Pictures of the hallowed saints.

Witch and warlock all abroad

Revels keep by field and yard.

#13. From the Haunted Wood

By Isaac McLellan

It is said that the Spirits of buried men

Oft come to this wicked world again;

That the churchyard turf is often trod

By the unlaid tenants of tomb and sod.

That the midnight sea itself is swept

By those who have long beneath it slept.

And they say of this old, mossy wood

Whose hoary trunks have for ages stood

That every knoll and dim-lit glade

Is haunted at night by its restless Shade.

#14. The Fairies

By William Allingham

Up the airy mountain

Down the rushy glen

We daren't go a-hunting

For fear of little men;

Wee folk, good folk

Trooping all together;

Green jacket, red cap

And white owl's feather!

Down along the rocky shore

Some make their home

They live on crispy pancakes

Of yellow tide-foam;

Some in the reeds

Of the black mountain-lake

With frogs for their watchdogs

All night awake.

High on the hill-top

The old King sits;

He is now so old and grey

He's nigh lost his wits.

With a bridge of white mist

Columbkill he crosses

On his stately journeys

From Slieveleague to Rosses;

Or going up with the music

On cold starry nights

To sup with the Queen

Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget

For seven years long;

When she came down again

Her friends were all gone.

They took her lightly back

Between the night and morrow

They thought that she was fast asleep

But she was dead with sorrow.

They have kept her ever since

Deep within the lake

On a bed of fig-leaves

Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hillside

Through the mosses bare

They have planted thorn trees

For my pleasure, here and there.

Is any man so daring

As dig them up in spite

He shall find their sharpest thorns

In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain

Down the rushy glen

We daren't go a-hunting

For fear of little men;

Wee folk, good folk

Trooping all together;

Green jacket, red cap

And white owl's feather!

#15. Candy Corn

By Jan R

Against the black void, looms the lunar sphere.

Hungry ghosts haunt, satisfied by fright.

Oh my! The children's faces blanch in fear.

And thus the small summit embodies white.

Dwindle do the autumn leaves to the ground.

From the fire, the cold meets its warm demise.

Halloween's favorite gourd, carved and round

And thus the middle is where orange lies.

Farms and tractor-pulled rides, hay is handy.

The black cat's eerie eyes gleam from its face.

The vegetable tastes not like the candy.

And thus concludes yellow to form the base.

White, orange, and yellow make something sweet.

Enjoy some candy corn, Halloween's treat!

Photo: on pic
Photo: on pic

#16. The Lake of the Dismal Swamp

By Thomas Moore

A swamp in the mist.

"They made her a grave, too cold and damp

For a soul so warm and true;

And she's gone to the Lake of the Dismal Swamp

Where, all night long, by a fire-fly lamp

She paddles her white canoe."

"And her fire-fly lamp I soon shall see

And her paddle I soon shall hear;

Long and loving our life shall be

And I'll hide the maid in a cypress tree

When the footstep of death is near."

Away to the Dismal Swamp he speeds -

His path was rugged and sore

Through tangled juniper, beds of reeds

Through many a fen where the serpent feeds

And man never trod before.

And when on the earth he sunk to sleep

If slumber his eyelids knew

He lay where the deadly vine doth weep

Its venomous tear and nightly steep

The flesh with blistering dew!

And near him the she-wolf stirr'd the brake

And the copper-snake breath'd in his ear

Till he starting cried, from his dream awake

"Oh! when shall I see the dusky Lake

And the white canoe of my dear?"

He saw the Lake, and a meteor bright

Quick over its surface play'd -

"Welcome," he said, "my dear one's light!"

And the dim shore echoed for many a night

The name of the death-cold maid.

Till he hollow'd a boat of the birchen bark

Which carried him off from shore;

Far, far he follow'd the meteor spark

The wind was high and the clouds were dark

And the boat return'd no more.

But oft, from the Indian hunter's camp

This lover and maid so true

Are seen at the hour of midnight damp

To cross the Lake by a fire-fly lamp

And paddle their white canoe!

#17. Halloween Chills

By Denise M. Cocchiaro

On this night of spooks and gnomes

Of swooning leaves and cringing crones

Of legends told from ear to ear

Of shrieking cats that grin and sneer

Over the hill and past the tree

A haunted house there said to be

With chill and mist to pierce your soul

And whispering winds to keep you cold

Heed the whispers straight from hell

To keep you safe from witchy spells

For through this night of devilish play

All who tread will rue the day

#18. A Trick of a Treat

by Nancy Hughes

Dressed up little creatures

on a dark October night

run from door to door

giving everyone a fright.

They come and ring your doorbell

and before they will retreat,

they beg you for some candy

by yelling "trick or treat".

When their bags are full,

they run home to eat their fill.

They taste a bit of everything

and by morning they are ill!

So to keep the youngsters healthy,

I've figured out a deal.

This year instead of candy,

I'll give them all oatmeal!

#19. The Unreturned

By Wilfred Owen

Phantom soldiers walking across a battlefield.

Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled

Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled.

Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled

When far-gone dead return upon the world.

There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke.

Each one whom Life exiled I named and called.

But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled

And never one fared back to me or spoke.

Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn

With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds

The weak-limned hour when sick men's sighs are drained.

And while I wondered on their being withdrawn

Gagged by the smothering Wing which none unbinds

I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.

#20. This Livinghand

By John Keats

An old person's and a young person's hands touching.

This living hand, now warm and capable

Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold

And in the icy silence of the tomb

So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights

That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood

So in my veins red life might stream again

And thou be conscience-calm'd - see here it is -

I hold it towards you.

#21. The Witch

By Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

A spectral figure walking along a road.

I have walked a great while over the snow

And I am not tall nor strong.

My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set

And the way was hard and long.

I have wandered over the fruitful earth

But I never came here before.

Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.

I dare not stand in the blast.

My hands are stone, and my voice a groan

And the worst of death is past.

I am but a little maiden still

My little white feet are sore.

Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have

Who plead for their heart's desire.

She came - she came - and the quivering flame

Sunk and died in the fire.

It never was lit again on my hearth

Since I hurried across the floor

To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.

#22. Sibilla's Dirge

By Thomas Lovell Beddoes

A creepy looking graveyard at night.

We do lie beneath the grass

In the moonlight, in the shade

Of the yew-tree. They that pass

Hear us not. We are afraid

They would envy our delight

In our graves by glow-worm night.

Come follow us, and smile as we;

We sail to the rock in the ancient waves

Where the snow falls by thousands into the sea

And the drown'd and the shipwreck'd have happy graves.

#23. Spellbound

By Emily Bronte

Trees in a wood in winter at night.

The night is darkening round me

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow.

And the storm is fast descending

And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me

Wastes beyond wastes below;

But nothing drear can move me;

I will not, cannot go.

Photo: wishesmsg
Photo: wishesmsg

#24. I Wouldn't Live In A Haunted House

By Rick W. Cotton

I wouldn't live in a haunted house;

It's something I just wouldn't do.

Not in creepy haunted house.

Not with me or even with you.

There's ghosties that hide in the shadows,

And spiders spin webs down the walls.

Things going bumpety all night long,

And footsteps go stomping down halls.

Voices that whisper when nobody's there

And shadows abound in the nighttime.

And just when you think all the ghouls have moved out,

They return for some serious fright-time.

They'll give you a poke on the back of your neck,

Or someone unseen tugs your hair.

You just know there's someone standing behind

If you dare to look...nobody's there.

I wouldn't live in a haunted house,

But on the last of October,

I might drop in for a quick little stay

And bring all my candy right over.

When the sun goes down at the edge of town

And the moon rises glorious yellow,

There's something in Halloween's glowing time

That makes all the ghosties quite mellow.

Then little ones come, dressed in costumes galore.

A haunted house might be just dandy

For you and I, Love, to spend our Halloween

On our haunted porch, handing out candy!

#25. My Friend Jack

By Rick W. Cotton

Jack comes every year to visit me,

And his grin just makes me smile.

Nearly toothless, he doesn't care.

He happily laughs all the while.

Eyes glowing in mirth and merriment,

He makes this time of year happy,

Though he's not much in conversation,

And he has no repartee snappy.

Jack just stays for a few weeks

Every year when the leaves turn yellow.

He's as welcome as he could possibly be.

He's quite the fun old fellow.

Now the sun goes down and the moon comes up,

And the costumed monsters come calling.

Light a candle to get Jack going!

Fast! The eventide's falling!

All Halloween night he sits with me,

Grinning to greet the neighbors

'Til his candle's gone and he goes to sleep.

These are hours that I truly savor.

So long old Jack, tomorrow's November!

We'll see you again next year!

When you come to visit from the pumpkin patch,

We will all be waiting right here!

#26. The Listeners

By Walter De La Mare

A spooky house in a wood.

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller

Knocking on the moonlit door;

And his horse in the silence champed the grasses

Of the forest's ferny floor:

And a bird flew up out of the turret

Above the Traveller's head:

And he smote upon the door again a second time;

"Is there anybody there?" he said.

But no one descended to the Traveller;

No head from the leaf-fringed sill

Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes

Where he stood perplexed and still.

But only a host of phantom listeners

That dwelt in the lone house then

Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight

To that voice from the world of men:

Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair

That goes down to the empty hall

Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken

By the lonely Traveller's call.

And he felt in his heart their strangeness

Their stillness answering his cry

While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf

'Neath the starred and leafy sky;

For he suddenly smote on the door, even

Louder, and lifted his head:-

"Tell them I came, and no one answered

That I kept my word," he said.

Never the least stir made the listeners

Though every word he spake

Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house

From the one man left awake:

Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup

And the sound of iron on stone

And how the silence surged softly backward

When the plunging hoofs were gone.

#27. Her Strong Enchantments Failing

By Alfred Edward Housman

A ghostly woman in a white dress.

Her strong enchantments failing

Her towers of fear in wreck

Her limbecks dried of poisons

And the knife at her neck

The Queen of air and darkness

Begins to shrill and cry

"O young man, O my slayer

To-morrow you shall die."

O Queen of air and darkness

I think 'tis truth you say

And I shall die tomorrow;

But you will die to-day.

#28. Black Trees, Ghosts, And Bumble Bees

By Coral Leffew

Lying on your bed just like every other night,

There is something that'd give grown men fright,

There's a black figure stalking in the night,

And it won't go away until dark turns to light,

It's the very thing that we all give up breathing,

It's the latest toy it's a werewolf being,

It's so scary and it's breathing in the night,

The creature jumps off and it takes to flight,

You can scream all you want to but that won't scare,

Too small for a dragon but too large for a bear,

Leave your lights turned on and turn up your favorite song,

Call in your parents but they won't help you now,

You've gone too far so you can't get back out,

It's not that silly monster in your closet,

Your Aunt's picture in your heart shaped locket,

No old black magic or any trick of the mind,

It pulls you in and soon you're entwined

#29. Trick Or Treat

© Jim Ellis

Candy, candy in the bag.

It's that time of year.

Funny clown, witchy hag.

Another house is near.

Popcorn balls and tootsie rolls.

A handful is the best

Taken from the biggest bowls

At homes that pass the test.

Ding dong, ring the bell.

Trick-or-treat is said,

And if it does not go so well,

Then mark the first word said.

Trees draped in toilet paper,

Fecal bags on fire.

Dressed like an undertaker,

The trick was their desire.

Midnight comes, all bags are full.

Time to count the bounty.

The night is done; we've played our role

All throughout the county.

Enjoy this yearly fun-filled night,

Feast upon its riches

From the first and final bite

Of Hugs and Hershey Kisses.

#30. Spellbound

By Emily Bronte

Trees in a wood in winter at night.

The night is darkening round me

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow.

And the storm is fast descending

And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me

Wastes beyond wastes below;

But nothing drear can move me;

I will not, cannot go.

Which means the word Halloween?

What does Halloween mean? The meaning of the word Halloween (in Irish Hallow E'en), derives from the contracted form of All Hallows ’Eve, where Hallow is the Gaelic word meaning Holy. The correct translation in Italian of Halloween, therefore, is "the night before (Eve) of All Saints", then of November 1st, Ognissanti, translated into English with All Hallows' Day. Furthermore, the English word for digging is " to hollow ”and the act of digging is“ hollowing ”, a sound that follows the very word of Halloween and symbolism linked to death.

Why Do We Celebrate Halloween on October 31?

Halloween falls on October 31 because the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain considered the earliest known root of Halloween, occurred on this day. It marked a pivotal time of year when seasons changed, but more importantly, observers also believed the boundary between this world and the next became especially thin at this time, enabling them to connect with the dead. This belief is shared by some other cultures; a similar idea is mentioned around the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which also typically occurs in October and involves saying prayers for the dead. This is also where Halloween gains its "haunted" connotations.

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