Poem Sampler

Halloween Poems

Spooky, scary, and fun poems that will make your hair curl.

by Becca Klaver

If you dare, feast your eyes and ears upon this selection of poems, articles, and audio clips designed to give goose bumps and curdle the blood. Thomas Moore, Edgar Allan Poe, and Christina Rossetti tell rhyming tales perfect for chilling spines around the campfire. Shakespeare’s singing charmers from Macbeth and Sexton’s “lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind” are some of poetry’s most infamous witches. We’ll never look at tree branches with an innocent eye again, thanks to Paul Laurence Dunbar and Louise Glück; Adelaide Crapsey and Mary Karr ensure the same for darkened windows. Michael Collier and Michael Waters mischievously depict the gender play and genial debauchery of costumes, while W.S. Di Piero and Carl Sandburg warn us that Halloween is a day when real danger might look fake, and vice versa. We get a peek into the demons and spirits of other cultures via Annie Finch and Rae Armantrout: whether you say ghost, genie, or djinn, the tingle in the spine is universal. 



Djinn” by Rae Armantrout

All Souls” by Michael Collier

To the Dead in the Graveyard Underneath My Window” by Adelaide Crapsey

The Haunted Oak” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

All Hallows' Eve” by Dorothea Tanning

Samhain” by Annie Finch

All Hallows” by Louise Glück

Field of Skulls” by Mary Karr

A Rhyme for Halloween” by Maurice Kilwein Guevera

A Ballad: The Lake of the Dismal Swamp” by Thomas Moore

To -- -- --. Ulalume: A Ballad” by Edgar Allan Poe

Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti

Theme in Yellow” by Carl Sandburg

Her Kind” by Anne Sexton

Song of the Witches” by William Shakespeare



Poems Can Be Creepy” by Susan Hutton
Halloween poetry for the classroom.

Ghost Hunting with the Dead Poets Society of America” by Kathleen Rooney
Is dying the best thing that ever happened to poetry?

Nevermoreland” by Abigail Deutsch
In Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe gets the funerals he deserves.



Happy Halloween, Happy Birthday, John Keats” by A.E. Stallings

A Halloween Poem: Strange Are the Products” by Forrest Gander

Ghosts in Charlotte Smith’s Elegiac Sonnets” by Javier Huerta

Wednesday Shout Out” by Rigoberto González



Aimee Nezhukumatathil on Linda Pastan’s “The Deathwatch Beetle”
Pastan captures the sound of mortality while echoing Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Jeremy Axelrod on Thomas Hardy’s “The Shadow on the Stone”
After the poet lost his wife, he found his voice.



Scary Movies” by Kim Addonizio

There She Is” by Linda Gregg

The Pumpkin Tree” by Robert Wrigley

Originally Published: October 19, 2010


On October 26, 2010 at 12:51pm David Formanek wrote:
Tam O'Shanter by Robert Burns is a MUST!
List it today. And he also wrote one about

On October 26, 2010 at 1:20pm Greg Sweetnam wrote:
Guising, fifth poem from a sequence called Ny-Hellesund
by John Burnside

Remembering as a child a particular couple called on every year at Halloween:

'the slow fade of themselves
grown old, or too long paired

with childhood sweethearts' ...

... damp eyes peering out

to find us in the dark, like long-lost friends
- a pirate child, a chimney sweep, a king'

On October 27, 2010 at 2:46pm Mike Holstein wrote:
Hi, I just put up a reading of "Little Orphant Annie" in time for Halloween. You can see it at http://www.youtube.com/user/Madronepress?feature=mhsn

On October 12, 2012 at 12:54pm Reagan Upshaw wrote:
You've left out two outstanding spooky poems. The first, "The Listeners" by Walter de la Mare, is well-known. The second, "He Tells His Dream" by Helen Adam, richly deserves to be.

On October 31, 2013 at 5:15pm Dee wrote:
You need to add Hist Whist by e.e. cummings


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Becca Klaver is the author of the poetry collection LA Liminal (Kore Press, 2010) and the chapbook Inside a Red Corvette: A 90s Mix Tape (greying ghost press, 2009). A founding editor of the feminist poetry press Switchback Books, she holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago and is currently a PhD student in Literatures in English at Rutgers University. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, she now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Continue reading this biography

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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