Our task for the monthly poetry event was to read a “Halloween” poem. My search for something a bit different led me to Poets.org, where I found many poems on ghosts and hauntings and All Hallow’s Eve. The one I chose is actually titled All Soul’s Night, the Christian version of the Pagan holiday, Samhain.
Some of the most striking poems I came across were written in the middle of the second decade of the Twentieth Century, during the time of the First World War. That war brought terrific loss of life and horrible images to a world not prepared for such an event. Many of the poems carry images of ghosts returning and of people struggling with the loss of a loved one.
The following poem is written by Hortense Flexner King, a poet I had never heard of. Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky she eventually taught at Bryn Mawr and Sarah Lawrence. I found this poem extremely moving.
All Soul’s Night
by Hortense King Flexner
You heap the logs and try to fill
The little room with words and cheer,
But silent feet are on the hill,
Across the window veiled eyes peer.
The hosts of lovers, young in death,
Go seeking down the world to-night,
Remembering faces, warmth and breath—
And they shall seek till it is light.
Then let the white-flaked logs burn low,
Lest those who drift before the storm
See gladness on our hearth and know
There is no flame can make them warm.