Samhain night is a great time to sit around a fire telling spooky stories. Check out this witch's dozen of classic scary poems to read, either alone or out loud. Some are for adults, some for kids, but all are worth reading at Samhain!
First published in 1845, this is the classic poem of fear and terror. The narrator never tells us why there's a raven on his threshhold, but a few stanzas in we begin to realize it has to do with his lost love, the mourned Lenore. By the time we reach the end, the narrator is well on his way to madness, driven there by the "stately Raven of the saintly days of yore." For those of us who enjoy a slightly sillier version of our spookiness, watch the original Simpsons Treehouse of Horror (1990), which features Bart sqwawking "Eat my shorts!" at an enraged Homer.
A classic bit of Poe, relating the tale of lost and doomed lovers, and the wind that "came out of the cloud, chilling and killing my Annabel Lee." By the final stanza, you'll be chilled too!
First written down by James Francis Child in 1729, the tale of Tam Lin has been around for centuries. Young Tam Lin finds himself out on Halloween, and drawn into the arms of the Queen of the Fae in her seductive green mantle.
A wedding guest meets an old sailor, and finds himself the recipient of this scary narrative, originally written in 1798. Coleridge's ancient mariner relates the tale of what happened to the men of a doomed ship, and hopes to find absolution for himself in the telling of the story.
Burns' Scottish dialect may be hard to translate for some readers, but if you take the time to figure out the story, it's well worth it. The family in the poem particpates in some traditional Halloween customs, including divination and the pulling of oats for a blessing.
"Double, double, toil and trouble" is the classic line from Shakespeare's MacBeth, written in 1606. A veritable grocery list of vile spell ingredients, this is great fun to read aloud on a dark and windy night. For a bit of extra fun, read it as your little ones are doing inventory of their Halloween loot bags.
Fun and silly, this is typical Prelutsky poetry that your little witchlets are sure to enjoy.
Written in classic Frost style, this poem evokes the feeling we've all gotten at one point or another, looking at an empty home site, or a field where nothing remains but the mists.
In 1816, young George Gordon Lord Byron wrote this eerie tale of despair and sadness in which humanity and mankind itself are defeated by the things that lurk in the dark.
While his wife was busily penning Frankenstein, Percy Bysshe Shelley was scribbling away at poems of sadness and woe. Composed in 1821, the year before his death, A Lament is a simple yet sad acknowledgement of our own mortality.