Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Halloween Poetry

Halloween Night
by Harry Behn

I Saw Three Witches
by Walter De La Mare

The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert Service

The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill
by Robert W. Service

Song of the Witches
by William Shakespeare

By Young E. Allison

The Hell-Bound Train
by Unknown

The Lost Steamship
by Fitz James O Brien

by Nightpoet

Alonzp The Brave And Fair Imogine
from The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis

The Bells
by Edgar Allen Poe

Goblin Market
by Christina Rossetti

Murder In The Red Barn
by Unknown

Frankie and Johnny
by Anonymous

Ode to Billie Joe
by Bobbie Gentry

On A Dark, Dark Night
by Unknown

Willie's Underwear
by Unknown

Freddy’s Nightmares
from Nightmare on Elm Street

Night Wind
by Unknown

by Shel Silverstein

The Worms
aka The Hearse Song

by Edgar Allan Poe

The Hag
by Robert Herrick

The Witch of Coos
by Robert Frost

The Haunted Oak
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Where Goblins Dwell
by Jack Prelutsky

The Bogeyman
by Jack Prelutsky

The Mewlips
by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Altar Of Artemis
by Aleister Crowley

The Witches' Rune and Other Wiccan Rhymes
by Beorc

The Witches' Rune
by Doreen Valiente and Gerald Gardner

The Rede of The Wiccae
by Lady Gwen Thompson

The Witches' Creed
by Doreen Valiente

Tam O’Shanter
by Robert Burns

On Halloween Night
by Harry Behn

Tonight is the night
When dead leaves fly
Like witches on switches
Across the sky,
When elf and sprite
Flit through the night
On a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night
When leaves make a sound
Like a gnome in his home
Under the ground,
When spooks and trolls
Creep out of holes
Mossy and green.

Tonight is the night
When pumpkins stare
Through sheaves and leaves
When ghoul and ghost
And goblin host
Dance round their queen
It's Hallowe'en!


I Saw Three Witches
by Walter De La Mare

I saw three witches
That bowed down like barley,
And straddled their brooms 'neath a louring sky,
And, mounting a storm-cloud,
Aloft on its margin,
Stood black in the silver as up they did fly.

I saw three witches
That mocked the poor sparrows
They carried in cages of wicker along,
Till a hawk from his eyrie
Swooped down like an arrow,
Smote on the cages, and ended their song.

I saw three witches
That sailed in a shallop,
All turning their heads with a snickering smile,
Till a bank of green osiers
Concealed their grim faces,
Though I heard them lamenting for many a mile.

I saw three witches
Asleep in a valley,
Their heads in a row, like stones in a flood,
Till the moon, creeping upward,
Looked white through the valley,
And turned them to bushes in bright scarlet bud.


The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee,
Where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam
'Round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold
Seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way
That he'd "sooner live in hell".

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way
Over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold
It stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze
Till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one
To whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight
In our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead
Were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he,
"I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you
Won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no;
Then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold
Till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread
Of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair,
You'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed,
So I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn;
But God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day
Of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all
That was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death,
And I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid,
Because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say:
"You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you
To cremate those last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid,
And the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb,
In my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight,
While the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows --
O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay
Seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent
And the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad,
But I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing,
And it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge,
And a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice
It was called the "Alice May".
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit,
And I looked at my frozen chum;
Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry,
"Is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor,
And I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around,
And I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared --
Such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal,
And I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like
To hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled,
And the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled
Down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak
Went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow
I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about
Ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said:
"I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; . . .
Then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm,
In the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile,
And he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear
You'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee,
It's the first time I've been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.


The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill
by Robert W. Service

I took a contract to bury the body of blasphemous Bill MacKie,
Whenever, wherever or whatsoever the manner of death he die --
Whether he die in the light o' day or under the peak-faced moon;
In cabin or dance-hall, camp or dive, mucklucks or patent shoon;
On velvet tundra or virgin peak, by glacier, drift or draw;
In muskeg hollow or canyon gloom, by avalanche, fang or claw;
By battle, murder or sudden wealth, by pestilence, hooch or lead --
I swore on the Book I would follow and look till I found my tombless dead.

For Bill was a dainty kind of cuss, and his mind was mighty sot
On a dinky patch with flowers and grass in a civilized boneyard lot.
And where he died or how he died, it didn't matter a damn
So long as he had a grave with frills and a tombstone "epigram."
So I promised him, and he paid the price in good cheechako coin
(Which the same I blowed in that very night down in the Tenderloin).
Then I painted a three-foot slab of pine: "Here lies poor Bill MacKie,"
And I hung it up on my cabin wall and waited for Bill to die.

Years passed away, and at last one day came a squaw with a story strange,
Of a long-deserted line of traps 'way back of the Bighorn range,
Of a little hut by the great divide, and a white man stiff and still,
Lying there by his lonesome self, and I figured it must be Bill.
So I thought of the contract I'd made with him, and I took down from the shelf
The swell black box with the silver plate he'd picked out for hisself;
And I packed it full of grub and "hooch," and I slung it on the sleigh;
Then I harnessed up my team of dogs and was off at dawn of day.

You know what it's like in the Yukon wild when it's sixty-nine below;
When the ice-worms wriggle their purple heads through the crust of the pale blue snow;
When the pine trees crack like little guns in the silence of the wood,
And the icicles hang down like tusks under the parka hood;
When the stove-pipe smoke breaks sudden off, and the sky is weirdly lit,
And the careless feel of a bit of steel burns like a red-hot spit;
When the mercury is a frozen ball, and the frost-fiend stalks to kill --
Well, it was just like that that day when I set out to look for Bill.

Oh, the awful hush that seemed to crush me down on every hand,
As I blundered blind with a trail to find through that blank and bitter land;
Half dazed, half crazed in the winter wild, with its grim heartbraking woes,
And the ruthless strife for a grip on life that only the sourdough knows!
North by the compass, North I pressed; river and peak and plain
Passed like a dream I slept to lose and I waked to dream again.

River and plain and mighty peak -- and who could stand unawed?
As their summits blazed, he could stand undazed at the foot of the throne of God.
North, aye, North, through a land accurst, shunned by the scouring brutes,
And all I heard was my own harsh word and the whine of the malamutes,
Till at last I came to a cabin squat, built in the side of a hill,
And I burst in the door, and there on the floor, frozen to death, lay Bill.

Ice, white ice, like a winding-sheet, sheathing each smoke-grimed wall;
Ice on the stove-pipe, ice on the bed, ice gleaming over all;
Sparkling ice on the dead man's chest, glittering ice in his hair,
Ice on his fingers, ice in his heart, ice in his glassy stare;
Hard as a log and trussed like a frog, with his arms and legs outspread.
I gazed at the coffin I'd brought for him, and I gazed at the gruesome dead,
And at last I spoke: "Bill liked his joke; but still, goldarn his eyes,
A man had ought to consider his mates in the way he goes and dies."

Have you ever stood in an Arctic hut in the shadow of the Pole,
With a little coffin six by three and a grief you can't control?
Have you ever sat by a frozen corpse that looks at you with a grin,
And that seems to say: "You may try all day, but you'll never jam me in?"
I'm not a man of the quitting kind, but I never felt so blue
As I sat there gazing at that stiff and studying what I'd do.
Then I rose and I kicked off the husky dogs that were nosing round about,
And I lit a roaring fire in the stove, and I started to thaw Bill out.

Well, I thawed and I thawed for thirteen days, but it didn't seem no good;
His arms and his legs stuck out like pegs, as if they were made of wood.
Till at last I said: "It ain't no use -- he's froze too hard to thaw;
He's obstinate, and he won't lie straight, so I guess I got to -- saw."
So I sawed off poor Bill's arms and legs, and I laid him snug and straight
In the little coffin he picked hisself, with the dinky silver plate,
And I came nigh near to shedding a tear as I nailed him safely down;
Then I stowed him away in my Yukon sleigh, and I started back to town.

So I buried him as the contract was in a narrow grave and deep,
And there he's waiting the Great Clean-up, when the the Judgment sluice-heads sweep;
And I smoke my pipe and I meditate in the light of the Midnight Sun,
And sometimes I wonder if they was, the awful things I done.
And as I sit and the parson talks, expounding of the Law,
I often think of poor old Bill -- and how hard he was to saw.


Song of the Witches
from Macbeth IV. i. 10-19; 35-38
by William Shakespeare

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,-
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.


By Young E. Allison

"Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!"
The mate was fixed by the bos'n's pike,
The bos'n brained with a marlinspike,
And Cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped
By fingers ten;
And there they lay,
All good dead men,
Like break-o'-day in a boozing-ken-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of a whole ship's list-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Dead and bedamned and the rest gone whist!-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion's ax his cheek has shore-
And the scullion he was stabbed times four.
And there they lay,
And the soggy skies
Dripped all day long
In upstaring eyes-
At murk sunset and at foul sunrise-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Ten of the crew had the Murder mark-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
'Twas a cutlass swipe, or an ounce of lead,
Or a yawing hole in a battered head-
And the scuppers glut with a rotting red.
And there they lay-
Aye, damn my eyes!-
All lookouts clapped
On Paradise-
All souls bound just contrariwise-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em good and true-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Every man jack could ha' sailed with Old Pew-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
There was chest on chest full of Spanish gold,
With a ton of plate in the middle hold,
And the cabins riot of stuff untold.
And they lay there,
That had took the plum,
With sightless glare
And their eyes struck dumb,
While we shared all by the rule of thumb-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through the sternlight screen-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Chartings ondoubt where a woman had been!-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
A flimsy shift on a bunker cot,
With a thin dirk slot through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff-dry in a purplish blot.
Or was she wench...
Or some shuddering maid...?
That dared the knife-
And that took the blade!
By God! she was stuff for a plucky jade-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest-
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight,
With twice ten turns of hawser's bight,
And we heaved 'em over and out of sight-
With a yo-heave-ho!
And a fare-you-well!
And a sullen plunge
In a sullen swell,
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell!
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!


The Hell-Bound Train
by Unknown

A Texas cowboy lay down on a barroom floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train.

The engine with murderous blood was damp
And was brilliantly lit with a brimstone lamp;
An imp, for fuel, was shoveling bones,
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.

The boiler was filled with lager beer
And the devil himself was the engineer;
The passengers were a most motley crew-
Church member, atheist, Gentile, and Jew,

Rich men in broadcloth, beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies, and withered old hags,
Yellow and black men, red, brown, and white,
All chained together- O God, what a sight!

While the train rushed on at an awful pace-
The sulphurous fumes scorched their hands and face;
Wider and wider the country grew,
As faster and faster the engine flew.

Louder and louder the thunder crashed
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed;
Hotter and hotter the air became
Till the clothes were burned from each quivering frame.

And out of the distance there arose a yell,
"Ha, ha," said the devil, "we're nearing hell!"
Then oh, how the passengers all shrieked with pain
And begged the devil to stop the train.

But he capered about and danced for glee,
And laughed and joked at their misery.
"My faithful friends, you have done the work
And the devil never can a payday shirk.

"You've bullied the weak, you've robbed the poor,
The starving brother you've turned from the door;
You've laid up gold where the canker rust,
And you've given free vent to your beastly lust.

"You've justice scorned, and corruption sown,
And trampled the laws of nature down.
You have drunk, rioted, cheated, plundered, and lied,
And mocked at God in your hell-born pride.

"You have paid full fare, so I'll carry you through,
For it's only right you should have your due.
Why, the laborer always expects his hire,
So I'll land you safe in the lake of fire,

"Where your flesh will waste in the flames that roar,
And my imps torment you forevermore."
Then the cowboy awoke with an anguished cry,
His clothes wet with sweat and his hair standing high

Then he prayed as he never had prayed till that hour
To be saved from his sin and the demon's power;
And his prayers and his vows were not in vain,
For he never rode the hell-bound train.


The Lost Steamship
by Fitz James O Brien

"HO, there,! Fisherman, hold your hand!
Tell me what is that far away,--
There, where over the isle of sand
Hangs the mist-cloud sullen and gray?
See! it rocks with a ghastly life,
Rising and rolling through clouds of spray,
Right in the midst of the breakers' strife,--
Tell me what is it, Fisherman, pray?"

"That, good sir, was a steamer stout
As ever paddled around Cape Race;
And many's the wild and stormy bout
She had with the winds, in that selfsame place;
But her time was come; and at ten o'clock
Last night she struck on that lonesome shore;
And her sides were gnawed by the hidden rock,
And at dawn this morning she was no more."

"Come, as you seem to know, good man,
The terrible fate of this gallant ship,
Tell me about her all that you can;
And here's my flask to moisten your lip.
Tell me how many she had aboard,--
Wives, and husbands, and lovers true,--
How did it fare with her human hoard?
Lost she many, or lost she few?"

"Master, I may not drink of your flask,
Already too moist I feel my lip;
But I'm ready to do what else you ask,
And spin you my yarn about the ship:
'Twas ten o'clock, as I said, last night,
When she struck the breakers, and went ashore;
And scarce had broken the morning's light
Than she sank in twelve feet of water or more.

"But long ere this they knew her doom,
And the captain called all hands to prayer;
And solemnly over the ocean's boom
Their orisons wailed on the troublous air.
And round about the vessel there rose
Tall plumes of spray as white as snow,
Like angels in their ascension clothes,
&nbs;Waiting for those who prayed below.

"So these three hundred people clung
As well as they could to spar and rope;
With a word of prayer upon every tongue,
Nor on any face a glimmer of hope
But there was no blubbering weak and wild,--
Of tearful faces I saw but one,
A rough old salt, who cried like a child,
And not for himself, but the captain's son.

"The captain stood on the quarter-deck,
Firm, but pale, with trumpet in hand;
Sometimes he looked at the breaking wreck,
Sometimes he sadly looked to land.
And often he smiled to cheer the crew--
But, Lord! the smile was terribly grim--
Till over the quarter a huge sea flew;
And that was the last they saw of him.

"I saw one young fellow with his bride,
Standing amidships upon the wreck;
His face was white as the boiling tide,
And she was clinging about his neck.
And I saw them try to say good-by,
But neither could hear the other speak;
So they floated away through the sea to die--
Shoulder to shoulder, and cheek to cheek.

"And there was a child, but eight at best,
Who went his way in a sea she shipped;
All the while holding upon his breast
A little pet parrot whose wings were clipped.
And as the boy and the bird went by,
Swinging away on a tall wave's crest,
They were gripped by a man, with a drowning cry,
And together the three went down to rest.

"And so the crew went one by one,
Some with gladness, and few with fear;
Cold and hardship such work had done
That few seemed frightened when death was near.
Thus every soul on board went down,--
Sailor and passenger, little and great;
The last that sank was a man of my town,
A capital swimmer,--the second mate."

"Now, lonely Fisherman, who are you
That say you saw this terrible wreck?
How do I know what you say is true,
When every mortal was swept from the deck?
Where were you in that hour of death?
How did you learn what you relate?"
His answer came in an under-breath,--
"Master, I was the second mate!"


by Nightpoet

For over a year
you rested in the chamber
when the sun doesnt shine.
you felt the tremble
of an unsteady hand
as thoughts of sending you home
mumbled throught these lips...
then I could go home.
much has been gained
so much has been lost
and i have never felt so far
from being able to cry.
now the buildings gleam
and the silent wander in the night
and whispers come and go in the wind
while you rest in the chamber...
the chamber next to my head.



from The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis

A Warrior so bold, and a Virgin so bright
Conversed, as They sat on the green:
They gazed on each other with tender delight;
Alonzo the Brave was the name of the Knight,
The Maid's was the Fair Imogine.

'And Oh!' said the Youth, 'since to-morrow I go
To fight in a far distant land,
Your tears for my absence soon leaving to flow,
Some Other will court you, and you will bestow
On a wealthier Suitor your hand.'

'Oh! hush these suspicions,' Fair Imogine said,
'Offensive to Love and to me!
For if ye be living, or if ye be dead,
I swear by the Virgin, that none in your stead
Shall Husband of Imogine be.

'If e'er I by lust or by wealth led aside
Forget my Alonzo the Brave,
God grant, that to punish my falsehood and pride
Your Ghost at the Marriage may sit by my side,
May tax me with perjury, claim me as Bride,
And bear me away to the Grave!'

To Palestine hastened the Hero so bold;
His Love, She lamented him sore:
But scarce had a twelve-month elapsed, when behold,
A Baron all covered with jewels and gold
Arrived at Fair Imogine's door.

His treasure, his presents, his spacious domain
Soon made her untrue to her vows:
He dazzled her eyes; He bewildered her brain;
He caught her affections so light and so vain,
And carried her home as his Spouse.

And now had the Marriage been blest by the Priest;
The revelry now was begun:
The Tables, they groaned with the weightof the Feast;
Nor yet had the laughter and merriment ceased,
When the Bell of the Castle told,—'One!'

Then first with amazement Fair Imogine found
That a Stranger was placed by her side: His air was terrific;
He uttered no sound; He spoke not, He moved not,
He looked not around,
But earnestly gazed on the Bride.

His vizor was closed, and gigantic his height;
His armour was sable to view:
All pleasure and laughter were hushed at his sight;
The Dogs as They eyed him drew back in affright,
The Lights in the chamber burned blue!

His presence all bosoms appeared to dismay;
The Guests sat in silence and fear.
At length spoke the Bride, while She trembled;
'I pray, Sir Knight, that your Helmet aside you would lay,
And deign to partake of our chear.'

The Lady is silent: The Stranger complies.
His vizor lie slowly unclosed:
Oh! God! what a sight met Fair Imogine's eyes!
What words can express her dismay and surprize,
When a Skeleton's head was exposed.

All present then uttered a terrified shout;
All turned with disgust from the scene.
The worms, They crept in, and the worms, They crept out,
And sported his eyes and his temples about,
While the Spectre addressed Imogine.

'Behold me, Thou false one! Behold me!' He cried;
'Remember Alonzo the Brave!
God grants, that to punish thy falsehood and pride
My Ghost at thy marriage should sit by thy side,
Should tax thee with perjury, claim thee as Bride
And bear thee away to the Grave!'

Thus saying, his arms round the Lady He wound,
While loudly She shrieked in dismay;
Then sank with his prey through the wide-yawning ground:
Nor ever again was Fair Imogine found,
Or the Spectre who bore her away.

Not long lived the Baron; and none since that time
To inhabit the Castle presume:
For Chronicles tell, that by order sublime
There Imogine suffers the pain of her crime,
And mourns her deplorable doom.

At midnight four times in each year does her Spright
When Mortals in slumber are bound,
Arrayed in her bridal apparel of white,
Appear in the Hall with the Skeleton-Knight,
And shriek, as He whirls her around.

While They drink out of skulls newly torn from the grave,
Dancing round them the Spectres are seen:
Their liquor is blood, and this horrible Stave
They howl.—'To the health of Alonzo the Brave,
And his Consort, the False Imogine!'


The Bells
by Edgar Allen Poe

Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells,-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells,-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

Hear the loud alarum bells-
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror now their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now- now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,

And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells-
Of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells,-
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

Hear the tolling of the bells-
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people- ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone,
And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
In the muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone-
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells-
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells,
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells, -
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells-
Bells, bells, bells-
To the moaning and the groaning of the Bells!


Goblin Market
by Christina Rossetti

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--
All ripe together
In summer weather--
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy;
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye,
Come buy, come buy."

Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bowed her head to hear,
Lizzie veiled her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger-tips.
"Lie close," Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?"
"Come buy," call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
"O! cried Lizzie, Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men."
Lizzie covered up her eyes
Covered close lest they should look;
Laura reared her glossy head,
And whispered like the restless brook:
"Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds' weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes."
"No," said Lizzie, "no, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us."
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cat's face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat's pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry-scurry.
Lizzie heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.

Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.

Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
"Come buy, come buy."
When they reached where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
"Come buy, come buy," was still their cry.
Laura stared but did not stir,
Longed but had no money:
The whisk-tailed merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr'd,
The rat-paced spoke a word
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried "Pretty Goblin" still for "Pretty Polly";
One whistled like a bird.

But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
"Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather."
"You have much gold upon your head,"
They answered altogether:
"Buy from us with a golden curl."
She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore,
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away,
But gathered up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turned home alone.

Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
"Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the moonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew gray;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.
You should not loiter so."
"Nay hush," said Laura.
"Nay hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still;
To-morrow night I will
Buy more," and kissed her.
"Have done with sorrow;
I'll bring you plums to-morrow
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons, icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid grapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink,
With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap."

Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other's wings,
They lay down, in their curtained bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fallen snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipped with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars beamed in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapped to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Locked together in one nest.

Early in the morning
When the first cock crowed his warning,
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetched in honey, milked the cows,
Aired and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churned butter, whipped up cream,
Fed their poultry, sat and sewed;
Talked as modest maidens should
Lizzie with an open heart,
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day's delight,
One longing for the night.

At length slow evening came--
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep
Lizzie plucked purple and rich golden flags,
Then turning homeward said: "The sunset flushes
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags,
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep."
But Laura loitered still among the rushes
And said the bank was steep.

And said the hour was early still,
The dew not fallen, the wind not chill:
Listening ever, but not catching
The customary cry,
"Come buy, come buy,"
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling;
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single,
Of brisk fruit-merchant men.

Till Lizzie urged, "O Laura, come,
I hear the fruit-call, but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glow-worm winks her spark,
Let us get home before the night grows dark;
For clouds may gather even
Though this is summer weather,
Put out the lights and drench us through;
Then if we lost our way what should we do?"

Laura turned cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
"Come buy our fruits, come buy."
Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?
Must she no more such succous pasture find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life drooped from the root:
She said not one word in her heart's sore ache;
But peering thro' the dimness, naught discerning,
Trudged home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
Silent 'til Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnashed her teeth for balked desire, and wept
As if her heart would break.

Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain,
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry:
"Come buy, come buy,"
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon waxed bright
Her hair grew thin and gray;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay, and burn
Her fire away.

One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dewed it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watched for a waxing shoot,
But there came none;
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dreamed of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crowned trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze.

She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.

Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister's cankerous care,
Yet not to share.
She night and morning
Caught the goblins' cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy."
Beside the brook, along the glen
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The voice and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Longed to buy fruit to comfort her,
But feared to pay too dear.

She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest winter-time,
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp winter-time.

Till Laura, dwindling,
Seemed knocking at Death's door:
Then Lizzie weighed no more
Better and worse,
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook,
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look.

Laughed every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Demure grimaces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter-skelter, hurry-skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes, --
Hugged her and kissed her;
Squeezed and caressed her;
Stretched up their dishes,
Panniers and plates:
"Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
Pomegranates, figs."

"Good folk," said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie,
"Give me much and many"; --
Held out her apron,
Tossed them her penny.
"Nay, take a seat with us,
Honor and eat with us,"
They answered grinning;
"Our feast is but beginning.
Night yet is early,
Warm and dew-pearly,
Wakeful and starry:
Such fruits as these
No man can carry;
Half their bloom would fly,
Half their dew would dry,
Half their flavor would pass by.
Sit down and feast with us,
Be welcome guest with us,
Cheer you and rest with us."
"Thank you," said Lizzie; "but one waits
At home alone for me:
So, without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I tossed you for a fee."
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One called her proud,
Cross-grained, uncivil;
Their tones waxed loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbowed and jostled her,
Clawed with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,
Twitched her hair out by the roots,
Stamped upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeezed their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.

White and golden Lizzie stood,
Like a lily in a flood,
Like a rock of blue-veined stone
Lashed by tides obstreperously, --
Like a beacon left alone
In a hoary roaring sea,
Sending up a golden fire, --
Like a fruit-crowned orange-tree
White with blossoms honey-sweet
Sore beset by wasp and bee, --
Like a royal virgin town
Topped with gilded dome and spire
Close beleaguered by a fleet
Mad to tear her standard down.

One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Though the goblins cuffed and caught her,
Coaxed and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,
Kicked and knocked her,
Mauled and mocked her,
Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in;
But laughed in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syruped all her face,
And lodged in dimples of her chin,
And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people,
Worn out by her resistance,
Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot.
Some writhed into the ground,
Some dived into the brook
With ring and ripple.
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanished in the distance.

In a smart, ache, tingle,
Lizzie went her way;
Knew not was it night or day;
Sprang up the bank, tore through the furze,
Threaded copse and dingle,
And heard her penny jingle
Bouncing in her purse, --
Its bounce was music to her ear.
She ran and ran
As if she feared some goblin man
Dogged her with gibe or curse
Or something worse:
But not one goblin skurried after,
Nor was she pricked by fear;
The kind heart made her windy-paced
That urged her home quite out of breath with haste
And inward laughter.

She cried "Laura," up the garden,
"Did you miss me ?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me:
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men."

Laura started from her chair,
Flung her arms up in the air,
Clutched her hair:
"Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted
For my sake the fruit forbidden?
Must your light like mine be hidden,
Your young life like mine be wasted,
Undone in mine undoing,
And ruined in my ruin;
Thirsty, cankered, goblin-ridden?"
She clung about her sister,
Kissed and kissed and kissed her:
Tears once again
Refreshed her shrunken eyes,

Dropping like rain
After long sultry drouth;
Shaking with aguish fear, and pain,
She kissed and kissed her with a hungry mouth.

Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loathed the feast:
Writhing as one possessed she leaped and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
Her locks streamed like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run.

Swift fire spread through her veins, knocked at her heart,
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame,
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!
Sense failed in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Spun about,
Like a foam-topped water-spout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life ?

Life out of death.
That night long Lizzie watched by her,
Counted her pulse's flagging stir,
Felt for her breath,
Held water to her lips, and cooled her face
With tears and fanning leaves:
But when the first birds chirped about their eaves,
And early reapers plodded to the place
Of golden sheaves,
And dew-wet grass
Bowed in the morning winds so brisk to pass,
And new buds with new day
Opened of cup-like lilies on the stream,
Laura awoke as from a dream,
Laughed in the innocent old way,
Hugged Lizzie but not twice or thrice;
Her gleaming locks showed not one thread of gray,
Her breath was sweet as May,
And light danced in her eyes.

Days, weeks, months,years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat,
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town;)
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
"For there is no friend like a sister,
In calm or stormy weather,
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands."


Murder in the Red barn – a scary poem.

The trees are bending over
The cows are lying down
The autumn’s taking over
You can hear the buckshot hounds
The watchman said to Reba the loon
Was it pale at Manzanita
Was it Blind Bob the raccoon?
Pin it on a drifter
They sleep beneath the bridge
One plays the violin
And sleeps inside a fridge

There was a murder in the red barn
A murder in the red barn

Someone’s crying in the woods
Someone’s burying all his clothes
Now Slam the Crank from Wheezer
Slept outside last night and froze
Road kill has its seasons
Just like anything
It’s possums in the autumn
And it’s farm cats in the spring

There was a murder in the red barn
A murder in the red barn

Now thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house
Or covet thy neighbor’s wife
But for some, murder’s the only door
through which they enter life
They surrounded the house
They smoked him out
They took him off in chains
The sky turned black and bruised
And we had months of heavy rains

Now the ravens nest in the rotted roof
Of Chenoweth’s old place
And no one’s asking Cal
About that scar upon his face
Because there’s nothing strange
About an axe with bloodstains in the barn
There’s always some killing
You got to do around the farm

There was a murder in the red barn
Murder in the red barn

Now the woods will never tell
What sleeps beneath the trees
What’s buried beneath a rock
Or hiding in the leaves
Because road kill has it’s seasons
Just like anything
It’s possums in the atumn
And it’s farm cats in the spring

There was a murder in the red barn
A murder in the red barn

Now a lady can’t do nothing
Without folks’ tongues wagging
Is that blood on the tree
Or is it autumn’s red blaze?
When the ground is soft for digging
And the rain will bring all this gloom
There’s nothing wrong with a lady
Sobbing alone in her room

But there was a murder in the red barn
A murder in the red barn


Frankie and Johnnie

Frankie and Johnnie were lovers,
O, my Gawd, how they could love,
They swore to be true to each other,
As true as the stars above;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie was a good woman,
As everybody knows,
Gave her man a hundred dollars,
To get him a suit of clothes;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie and Johnnie went walking,
Johnnie in his bran' new suit,
"Oh, my Gawd," said Frankie,
"But don't my Johnnie look cute?"
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie went down to Memphis,
Went on the morning train,
Paid a hundred dollars,
Got Johnnie a watch and chain;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie lived in a crib-house,
Crib-house with only two doors,
Gave her money to Johnnie,
He spent it on those parlour whores;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie went down to the corner,
Went for a bucket of beer,
She said, "Oh, Mr. Bar-tender,
Has my loving Johnnie been here?
He is my man, and he's done me wrong."

"I won't make you no trouble,
I won't tell you no lie,
But I saw Johnnie an hour ago
With a girl named Nellie Bly;
He is your man, and he's doing you wrong."

Frankie went to the hock-shop,
Bought her a big forty-four,
Aimed that gun at the ceiling,
Shot a big hole in the floor;
"Now where's my man that's doing me wrong?"

Frankie went down to the hook-shop,
Looked in at a window so high,
There she saw her Johnnie,
Loving up Nellie Bly,
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie went up to the front door,
She rang the front-door bell,
Said, "Stand back, all you chippies,
Or I'll blow you all to hell;
I want my man, who's done me wrong."

Frankie went into the hook-shop,
She didn't go there for fun,
'Cause underneath her kimona
She toted that forty-four gun;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie looked in at the keyhole,
And there before her eye,
She saw her Johnnie on the sofa,
A loving up Nellie Bly;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie threw back her kimona,
Took out the little forty-four,
Roota-toot-toot, three times she shoot,
Right through that hardwood door;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Johnnie grabbed off his Stetson,
Said, "Oh, Gawd, Frankie, don't shoot!"
But she pressed hard on the trigger,
And the gun went roota-toot-toot;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

"Roll me over easy,
Oh, roll me over slow,
Roll me over on my right side,
'Cause my left side hurts me so."
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

"Bring out your rubber-tyred buggy,
Bring out your rubber-tyred hack,
I'll take my man to the graveyard,
But I won't bring him back;
He was my man, but he done me wrong."

They brought out the rubber-tyred hearses,
They brought out the rubber-tyred hack,
Thirteen men went to the graveyard,
But only twelve came back;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

"Bring 'round a hundred policemen,
Bring 'em around to-day,
And lock me in that jail-house,
Then throw the key away;
I shot my man, 'cause he done me wrong.

"I've saved up a little money,
I'll save up a little more,
I'll send it all to his widow,
And say it's from the girl next door;
He was my man, but he done me wrong."

Frankie went to the madame,
She fell down on her knees,
"Forgive me, Mrs. Halcome,
Forgive me, if you please;
I've killed my man, 'cause he done me wrong."

"Forgive you, Frankie darling?
Forgive you I never can.
Forgive you, Frankie darling,
For shooting your only man?
For he was your man, though he done you wrong."

Frankie went to the coffin,
Looked down at his face,
Said, "Oh, Lord, have mercy on me,
I'd like to take his place;
He was my man, but he done me wrong."

A rubber-tyred buggy,
A rubber-tyred hack,
Took poor Frankie to the jail-house
But it didn't bring her back;
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie sat in her prison,
Had no electric fan,
Told her little sister,
Never marry no sporting man;
"I had a man, but he done me wrong."

The Sheriff took Frankie to the gallows,
Hung her until she died,
They hung her for killing Johnnie,
And the undertaker waited outside;
She killed her man, 'cause he done her wrong.

*Many versions of this ballad have been written. It started out as Frankie and Albert about a murder in either Kansas City or St. Louis around 1890. It was a staple of early Vaudeville.


Ode to Billie Joe
by Bobbie Gentry

It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day
I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hay
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And Mama hollered out the back door "y'all remember to wipe your feet"
And then she said "I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge"
"Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"

And Papa said to Mama as he passed around the blackeyed peas
"Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense, pass the biscuits, please"
"There's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow"
And Mama said it was shame about Billy Joe, anyhow
Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge
And now Billy Joe MacAllister's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night?
"I'll have another piece of apple pie, you know it don't seem right"
"I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge"
"And now you tell me Billie Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"

And Mama said to me "Child, what's happened to your appetite?"
"I've been cookin' all morning and you haven't touched a single bite"
"That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today"
"Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh, by the way"
"He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge"
"And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge"

A year has come 'n' gone since we heard the news 'bout Billy Joe
And Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo
There was a virus going 'round, Papa caught it and he died last Spring
And now Mama doesn't seem to wanna do much of anything
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge

And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge


On A Dark, Dark Night
(Short Spooky Campfire Story)

On a dark, dark night
In a dark, dark wood
In a dark, dark house
In a dark, dark room
In a dark, dark cupboard
On a dark, dark shelf
In a dark, dark box
There was... A GHOST!


Willie's Underwear
Sung to Polly Wolly Doodle
('I'm off to Lou'siana for to see my Susyanna: sing Polly wolly doodle all the day')

On the night that Willie died 
He called me to his side
And he gave me his dirty underwear.
They were baggy at the knees
And they smelled like liver cheese
Oh the dirty underwear that Willie wore.

Oh I threw them in the sky
And the birds refused to fly
Oh the dirty underwear that Willie wore.
Oh the dirty underwear that Willie wore.

Oh I threw them in the well
And the rats they ran like....heck
Oh the dirty underwear that Willie wore.

Now Willie's dead and gone
But his underwear live on
And they're hangin' on the line for all to see.

Now remember and remember well
For you can't avoid the smell
Of the underwear that's Willie's memory.
Of the underwear that's Willie's memory.


Freddy’s Nightmares
from Nightmare on Elm Street.

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.
Three, four, better lock your door.
Five, six, grab your crucifix.
Seven, eight, gonna stay up late.
Nine, ten, never sleep again.


Night Wind

Have you ever heard the wind go “Yooooo”?
‘Tis a pitiful sound to hear!
It seems to chill you through and through
With a strange and speechless fear.
‘Tis the voice of the night that broods outside
When folk should be asleep,
And many and many’s the time I’ve cried
To the darkness brooding far and wide
Over the land and the deep:
Who do you want, Oh lonely night,
That you wail the long hours through?
And the night would say in its ghostly way:
“Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo!”

My mother told me long ago
When I was a little lad
That when the night went wailing so,
Somebody had been bad;
And then, when I was snug in bed,
Whither I had been sent,
With the blankets pulled up round my head,
I’d think of what my mother said,
And wonder what boy she meant
And who’s been bad today
I’d ask of the wind that hoarsely blew;
And the voice would say in its meaningful way:
“Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo!”

That this was true I must allow
You’ll not believe it, though!
Yes, though I’m quite a model now,
I was not always so.
And if you doubt the things I say,
Just put it to the test;
Suppose, when you’ve been bad some day
And up to bed are sent away
From mother and the rest
Suppose you ask, “Who has been bad?”
And then you’ll hear what’s true;
For the wind will moan in its ruefulest tone:
“Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo!”


by Shel Silverstein

If you are superstitious you'll never step on cracks.
When you see a ladder you will never walk beneath it.
And if you ever spill some salt you'll thrown some 'cross your back,
And carry' round a rabbit's foot just in case you need it.
You'll pick up any pin that you find lying on the ground,
And never, never, ever throw your hat upon the bed,
Or open an umbrella when you are in the house.
You'll bite your tongue each time you say
A thing you shouldn't have said.
You'll hold your breath and cross your fingers
Walkin' by a graveyard,
And number thirteen's never gonna do you any good.
Black cats will all look vicious, if you're superstitious,
But I'm not superstitious (knock on wood).


The Worms
(aka The Hearse Song or Spooks On Parade)
*There are several versions but this is my favorite:)
(sung to the tune Spooks On Parade)

Don't ever laugh as the hearse goes by
For you may be the next to die.
They put you in a big black box
then cover you up with dirt and rocks.

All goes well for about a week
and then your coffin begins to leak.
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
The worms play Pinochle on your snout.

They eat your eyes, they eat your nose
They eat the jelly between your toes.
A big green worm with rolling eyes
crawls in your stomache and out your eyes.

Your stomach turns a slimy green
and puss pours out like whipping creme.
Spread it on a slice of bread,
that's what you eat when you are dead.

(Spoken) Darn, and me without a spoon!



by Edgar Allan Poe

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule-
From a wild clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE-out of TIME.
Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the tears that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters-lone and dead,-
Their still waters-still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,-
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,-
By the mountains-near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,-
By the grey woods,-by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp-
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,-
By each spot the most unholy-
In each nook most melancholy-
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past-
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by-
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth-and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
'Tis a peaceful, soothing region-
For the spirit that walks in shadow
'Tis-oh, 'tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not-dare not openly view it!
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.


The Hag
by Robert Herrick

The Hag is astride,
This night for to ride;
The Devill and shee together:
Through thick, and through thin,
Now out, and then in,
Though ne’r so foule be the weather.

A Thorn or a Burr
She takes for a Spurre:
With a lash of a Bramble she rides now,
Through Brakes and through Bryars,
O’re Ditches, and Mires,
She followes the Spirit that guides now.

No Beast, for his food,
Dares now range the wood;
But husht in his laire he lies lurking:
While mischiefs, by these,
On Land and on Seas,
At noone of Night are working,

The storme will arise,
And trouble the skies;
This night, and more for the wonder,
The ghost from the Tomb
Affrighted shall come,
Cal’d out by the clap of the Thunder.


The Witch of Coos
by Robert Frost

I STAID the night for shelter at a farm
Behind the mountain, with a mother and son,
Two old-believers. They did all the talking.

The Mother
Folks think a witch who has familiar spirits
She could call up to pass a winter evening,
But won’t, should be burned at the stake or something.
Summoning spirits isn’t “Button, button,
Who’s got the button,” you’re to understand.

The Son
Mother can make a common table rear
And kick with two legs like an army mule.

The Mother
And when I’ve done it, what good have I done?
Rather than tip a table for you, let me
Tell you what Ralle the Sioux Control once told me.
He said the dead had souls, but when I asked him
How that could be—I thought the dead were souls,
He broke my trance. Don’t that make you suspicious
That there’s something the dead are keeping back?
Yes, there’s something the dead are keeping back.

The Son
You wouldn’t want to tell him what we have
Up attic, mother?

The Mother
Bones—a skeleton.

The Son
But the headboard of mother’s bed is pushed
Against the attic door: the door is nailed.
It’s harmless. Mother hears it in the night
Halting perplexed behind the barrier
Of door and headboard. Where it wants to get
Is back into the cellar where it came from.

The Mother
We’ll never let them, will we, son? We’ll never!

The Son
It left the cellar forty years ago
And carried itself like a pile of dishes
Up one flight from the cellar to the kitchen,
Another from the kitchen to the bedroom,
Another from the bedroom to the attic,
Right past both father and mother, and neither stopped it.
Father had gone upstairs; mother was downstairs.
I was a baby: I don’t know where I was.

The Mother
The only fault my husband found with me—
I went to sleep before I went to bed,
Especially in winter when the bed
Might just as well be ice and the clothes snow.
The night the bones came up the cellar-stairs
Toffile had gone to bed alone and left me,
But left an open door to cool the room off
So as to sort of turn me out of it.
I was just coming to myself enough
To wonder where the cold was coming from,
When I heard Toffile upstairs in the bedroom
And thought I heard him downstairs in the cellar.
The board we had laid down to walk dry-shod on
When there was water in the cellar in spring
Struck the hard cellar bottom. And then someone
Began the stairs, two footsteps for each step,
The way a man with one leg and a crutch,
Or little child, comes up. It wasn’t Toffile:
It wasn’t anyone who could be there.
The bulkhead double-doors were double-locked
And swollen tight and buried under snow.
The cellar windows were banked up with sawdust
And swollen tight and buried under snow.
It was the bones. I knew them—and good reason.
My first impulse was to get to the knob
And hold the door. But the bones didn’t try
The door; they halted helpless on the landing,
Waiting for things to happen in their favor. The faintest restless rustling ran all through them.
I never could have done the thing I did
If the wish hadn’t been too strong in me
To see how they were mounted for this walk.
I had a vision of them put together
Not like a man, but like a chandelier.
So suddenly I flung the door wide on him.
A moment he stood balancing with emotion,
And all but lost himself. (A tongue of fire
Flashed out and licked along his upper teeth.
Smoke rolled inside the sockets of his eyes.)
Then he came at me with one hand outstretched,
The way he did in life once; but this time
I struck the hand off brittle on the floor,
And fell back from him on the floor myself.
The finger-pieces slid in all directions.
(Where did I see one of those pieces lately?
Hand me my button-box—it must be there.)

I sat up on the floor and shouted, “Toffile,
It’s coming up to you.” It had its choice
Of the door to the cellar or the hall.
It took the hall door for the novelty,
And set off briskly for so slow a thing,
Still going every which way in the joints, though,
So that it looked like lightning or a scribble,
From the slap I had just now given its hand.
I listened till it almost climbed the stairs
From the hall to the only finished bedroom,
Before I got up to do anything;
Then ran and shouted, “Shut the bedroom door,
Toffile, for my sake!” “Company,” he said,
“Don’t make me get up; I’m too warm in bed.”
So lying forward weakly on the handrail
I pushed myself upstairs, and in the light
(The kitchen had been dark) I had to own
I could see nothing. “Toffile, I don’t see it.
It’s with us in the room, though. It’s the bones.”
“What bones?” “The cellar bones—out of the grave.”

That made him throw his bare legs out of bed
And sit up by me and take hold of me.
I wanted to put out the light and see
If I could see it, or else mow the room,
With our arms at the level of our knees,
And bring the chalk-pile down. “I’ll tell you what—
It’s looking for another door to try.
The uncommonly deep snow has made him think
Of his old song, The Wild Colonial Boy,
He always used to sing along the tote-road.
He’s after an open door to get out-doors.
Let’s trap him with an open door up attic.”
Toffile agreed to that, and sure enough,
Almost the moment he was given an opening,
The steps began to climb the attic stairs.
I heard them. Toffile didn’t seem to hear them.
“Quick!” I slammed to the door and held the knob.
“Toffile, get nails.” I made him nail the door shut,
And push the headboard of the bed against it.

Then we asked was there anything
Up attic that we’d ever want again.
The attic was less to us than the cellar.
If the bones liked the attic, let them like it,
Let them stay in the attic. When they sometimes
Come down the stairs at night and stand perplexed
Behind the door and headboard of the bed,
Brushing their chalky skull with chalky fingers,
With sounds like the dry rattling of a shutter,
That’s what I sit up in the dark to say—
To no one any more since Toffile died.
Let them stay in the attic since they went there.
I promised Toffile to be cruel to them
For helping them be cruel once to him.

The Son
We think they had a grave down in the cellar.

The Mother
We know they had a grave down in the cellar.

The Son
We never could find out whose bones they were.

The Mother
Yes, we could too, son. Tell the truth for once.
They were a man’s his father killed for me.
I mean a man he killed instead of me.
The least I could do was help dig their grave.
We were about it one night in the cellar.
Son knows the story: but ’twas not for him
To tell the truth, suppose the time had come.
Son looks surprised to see me end a lie
We’d kept up all these years between ourselves
So as to have it ready for outsiders.
But tonight I don’t care enough to lie—
I don’t remember why I ever cared.
Toffile, if he were here, I don’t believe
Could tell you why he ever cared himself….

She hadn’t found the finger-bone she wanted
Among the buttons poured out in her lap.

I verified the name next morning: Toffile.
The rural letter-box said Toffile Barre.


The Haunted Oak
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Pray why are you so bare, so bare,
Oh, bough of the old oak-tree;
And why, when I go through the shade you throw,
Runs a shudder over me?

My leaves were green as the best, I trow,
And sap ran free in my veins,
But I saw in the moonlight dim and weird
A guiltless victim’s pains.

I bent me down to hear his sigh;
I shook with his gurgling moan,
And I trembled sore when they rode away,
And left him here alone.

They’d charged him with the old, old crime,
And set him fast in jail:
Oh, why does the dog howl all night long,
And why does the night wind wail?

He prayed his prayer and he swore his oath,
And he raised his hand to the sky;
But the beat of hoofs smote on his ear,
And the steady tread drew nigh.

Who is it rides by night, by night,
Over the moonlit road?
And what is the spur that keeps the pace,
What is the galling goad?

And now they beat at the prison door,
"Ho, keeper, do not stay!
We are friends of him whom you hold within,
And we fain would take him away

"From those who ride fast on our heels
With mind to do him wrong;
They have no care for his innocence,
And the rope they bear is long."

They have fooled the jailer with lying words,
They have fooled the man with lies;
The bolts unbar, the locks are drawn,
And the great door open flies.

Now they have taken him from the jail,
And hard and fast they ride,
And the leader laughs low down in his throat,
As they halt my trunk beside.

Oh, the judge, he wore a mask of black,
And the doctor one of white,
And the minister, with his oldest son,
Was curiously bedight.

Oh, foolish man, why weep you now?
’Tis but a little space,
And the time will come when these shall dread
The mem’ry of your face.

I feel the rope against my bark,
And the weight of him in my grain,
I feel in the throe of his final woe
The touch of my own last pain.

And never more shall leaves come forth
On the bough that bears the ban;
I am burned with dread, I am dried and dead,
From the curse of a guiltless man.

And ever the judge rides by, rides by,
And goes to hunt the deer,
And ever another rides his soul
In the guise of a mortal fear.

And ever the man he rides me hard,
And never a night stays he;
For I feel his curse as a haunted bough,
On the trunk of a haunted tree.


Where Goblins Dwell
by Jack Prelutsky

There is a place where goblins dwell,
where leprechauns abound,
where evil trolls inhabit holes,
and elves are often found,
where unicorns grow silver horns,
and mummies leave their tombs,
where fiery hosts of ashen ghosts
cavort in drafty rooms.
There is a place where poltergeists
and ogres rove unseen,
where witches rise through midnight skies,
where stalks the phantom queen,
where fairy folk atop an oak
are apt to weave a spell;
it’s there to find within your mind,
that place where goblins dwell.


The Bogeyman
by Jack Prelutsky

In the desolate depths of a perilous place
the bogeyman lurks, with a snarl on his face.
Never dare, never dare to approach his dark lair
for he's waiting . . . just waiting . . . to get you.

He skulks in the shadows, relentless and wild
in his search for a tender, delectable child.
With his steely sharp claws and his slavering jaws
oh he's waiting . . . just waiting . . . to get you.

Many have entered his dreary domain
but not even one has been heard from again.
They no doubt made a feast for the butchering beast
and he's waiting . . . just waiting . . . to get you.

In that sulphurous, sunless and sinister place
he'll crumple your bones in his bogey embrace.
Never never go near if you hold your life dear,
for oh! . . . what he'll do . . . when he gets you!


The Mewlips
by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Shadows where the Mewlips dwell
Are dark and wet as ink,
And slow and softly rings their bell,
As in the slime you sink.

You sink into the slime, who dare
To knock upon their door,
While down the grinning gargoyles stare
And noisome waters pour.

Beside the rotting river-strand
The drooping willows weep,
And gloomily the gorcrows stand
Croaking in their sleep.

Over the Merlock Mountains a long and weary way,
In a mouldy valley where the trees are grey,
By a dark pool's borders without wind or tide,
Moonless and sunless, the Mewlips hide.

The cellars where the Mewlips sit
Are deep and dank and cold
With single sickly candle lit;
And there they count their gold.

Their walls are wet, their ceilings drip;
Their feet upon the floor
Go softly with a squish-flap-flip,
As they sidle to the door.

They peep out slyly; through a crack
Their feeling fingers creep,
And when they've finished, in a sack
Your bones they take to keep.

Beyond the Merlock Mountains, a long and lonely road,
Through the spider-shadows and the marsh of Tode,
And through the wood of hanging trees and gallows-weed,
You go to find the Mewlips - and the Mewlips feed.

*a hobbit poem appearing in the work The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by J.R.R. Tolkien


The Altar Of Artemis
by Aleister Crowley, Occultist and Ceremonial Magician
(pagan/wicca ceremony?)

There, in the coppice, oak and pine
And mystic yew and elm are found,
Sweeping the skies, that grew divine
With the dark wind's despairing sound,
The wind that roars from the profound,
And smites the mountain-tops, and calls
Mute spirits to black festivals,
And feasts in valleys iron-bound,
Desolate crags, and barren ground;--
There in the strong storm-shaken grove
Swings the pale censer-fire for love.

The foursquare altar, roughly hewn,
And overlaid with beaten gold,
Stands in the gloom; the stealthy tune
Of singing maidens overbold
Desires mad mysteries untold,
With strange eyes kindling, as the fleet
Implacable untiring feet
Weave mystic figures manifold
That draw down angels to behold
The moving music, and the fire
Of their intolerable desire.

For, maddening to fiercer thought,
The fiery limbs requicken, wheel
In formless furies, subtly wrought
Of swifter melodies than steel
That flashes in the fight: the peal
Of amorous laughters choking sense,
And madness kissing violence,
Ring like dead horsemen; bodies reel
Drunken with motion; spirits feel
The strange constraint of gods that clip
From Heaven to mingle lip and lip.

The gods descend to dance; the noise
Of hungry kissings, as a swoon,
Faints for excess of its own joys,
And mystic beams assail the moon,
With flames of their infernal noon;
While the smooth incense, without breath,
Spreads like some scented flower of death,
Over the grove; the lover's boon
Of sleep shall steal upon them soon,
And lovers' lips, from lips withdrawn,
Seek dimmer bosoms till the dawn.

Yet on the central altar lies
The sacrament of kneaded bread,
With blood made one, the sacrifice
To those, the living, who are dead--
Strange gods and goddesses, that shed
Monstrous desires of secret things
Upon their worshippers, from wings
One lucent web of light, from head
One labyrinthine passion-fed
Palace of love, from breathing rife
With secrets of forbidden life.

But not the sunlight, nor the stars,
Nor any light but theirs alone,
Nor iron masteries of Mars,
Nor Saturn's misconceiving zone,
Nor any planet's may be shown,
Within the circle of the grove,
Where burn the sanctities of love:
Nor may the foot of man be known,
Nor evil eyes of mothers thrown
On maidens that desire the kiss
Only of maiden Artemis.

But horned and huntress from the skies,
She bends her lips upon the breeze,
And pure and perfect in her eyes,
Burn magical virginity's
Sweet intermittent sorceries.
When the slow wind from her sweet word
In all their conchéd ears is heard.
And like the slumber of the seas,
There murmur through the holy trees
The kisses of the goddess keen,
And sighs and laughters caught between.

For, swooning at the fervid lips
Of Artemis, the maiden kisses
Sobs and the languid body slips
Down to enamelled wildernesses.
Fallen and loose the shaken tresses;
Fallen the sandal and girdling gold,
Fallen the music manifold
Of moving limbs and strange caresses,
And deadly passion that possesses
The magic ecstasy of these
Mad maidens, tender as blue seas.

Night spreads her yearning pinions,
The baffled day sinks blind to sleep;
The evening breeze outswoons the sun's
Dead kisses to the swooning deep.
Upsoars the moon; the flashing steep
Of Heaven is fragrant for her feet;
The perfume of the grove is sweet
As slumbering women furtive creep
To bosoms where small kisses weep,
And find in fervent dreams the kiss
Most memoried of Artemis.

Impenetrable pleasure dies
Beneath the madness of new dreams;
The slow sweet breath is turned to sighs
More musical than many streams
Under the moving silver beams,
Fretted with stars, thrice woven across.
White limbs in amorous slumber toss,
Like sleeping foam, whose silver gleams
On motionless dark seas; it seems
As if some gentle spirit stirred,
Their lazy brows with some swift word.

So, in the secret of the shrine,
Night keeps them nestled, so the gloom
Laps them in waves as smooth as wine,
As glowing as the fiery womb
Of some young tigress, dark as doom,
And swift as sunrise. Love's content
Builds its own monument,
And carves above its vaulted tomb
The Phoenix on her fiery plume,
To their own souls to testify
Their kisses' immortality.


The Witches' Rune and Other Wiccan Rhymes
by Beorc

In traditional Wicca there's a poem known as the 'Witches' Rune', which is often chanted as part of the opening part of rituals, possibly accompanied by a dance. It was originally written by Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente, and can be found for example in Janet and Stewart Farrar's Eight Sabbats for Witches.

Skimming through books for possible material to use in rituals, I happened again upon this poem that in the past I'd mostly ignored, and found it somewhat appealing. I wouldn't use all of it, as much of it refers specifically to Wiccan ritual tools etc. that aren't really currently relevant to me. But the following two stanzas are relatively neutral and usable for invoking some general Wiccan-flavoured Goddess and God energies. (I've adapted the wording very slightly to appeal to me better, borrowing from several versions of the poem.)

Darksome night and shining moon,
East and south and west and north;
Hearken to the Witches' Rune,
Hear me now, I call ye forth!

Queen of heaven, queen of hell,
Hornèd hunter of the night,
Lend your power to the spell
Work my will by magic rite!

Essentially, these two verses summarise the entire Wiccan circle ritual, as they invite the powers of the four quarters and the Goddess and the God. Optionally the obscure chant 'Eko Eko Azarak, Eko Eko Zomelak!', repeated to your heart's content, may be added to the Rune.

A third segment of the Rune could also perhaps be used, potentially at the end of a magickal working:

By all the power of land and sea,
By all the might of moon and sun,
As I do will, so mote it be,
Chant the spell, and it be done!

The Farrars' book The Witches' Way contains a version of the Gardnerian third degree initiation ritual put into verse by Doreen Valiente. Here are some excerpts from that text that could be used just as well in other ritual contexts (I changed a few of the pronouns to better suit solo working):

Assist me to build,
As the Mighty Ones willed,
The altar of praise,
From beginning of days.

Be this, as of yore,
The shrine I adore,
The feast without fail,
The life-giving Grail.

By rushing wind and leaping fire,
By flowing water and green earth,
Pour me the wine of my desire
From out thy cauldron of rebirth.

The first two excerpts would seem appropriate for use at the beginning of a ritual, before (or during) the act of tracing the circle. The third, on the other hand, is a perfect blessing for a ritual drink. (Originally these verses refer particularly to the body of a woman as an altar, but I see no reason why they couldn't be used to bless any sacred space.)

The Grail reference might feel a little too Christian to some. Another couplet from the poem that could be used instead is: 'Invoked in this sign, the Goddess divine.'

Here's a short snippet from a poem by Aleister Crowley, titled 'The Altar of Artemis':

And like the slumber of the seas,
There murmur through the holy trees
The kisses of the goddess keen,
And sighs and laughters caught between.

The following lines are from the Orphic Hymn to Pan (from the late Hellenistic or early Roman era), translated by Thomas Taylor (this appears to be a slightly shortened version, but I like its flow better):

Come, blessed Pan, whom rural haunts delight,
come, leaping, agile, wand'ring, starry light.
Throned with the Seasons, Bakkhanalian Pan,
goat-footed, horned, from whom the world began.

The following segment of the same hymn references the four elements:

By thee the earth wide-bosomed, deep and long,
stands on a basis permanent and strong.
The unwearied waters of the rolling sea,
profoundly spreading, yield to thy decree.
The spacious air, whose nutrimental fire,
and vivid blasts, the heat of life inspire;
the lighter frame of fire, whose sparkling eye
shines on the summit of the azure sky,
submit alike to thee, whose general sway
all parts of matter, various formed, obey.



The Witches' Rune
(see above entry for more info)
by Doreen Valiente and Gerald Gardner

This can be used as an energizing opening ritual for covens, though it really doesn't have the same power in solitary circle. It can, however, be chanted with great energy and rocking, dancing, or spinning deosil by just one person for a similar opening.

The members hold hands, alternating men and women as much as possible, and the High Priestess begins the chant, which the coven takes up:

Eko, Eko, Azarak,
Eko, Eko, Zomelak,
Eko, Eko, Cernunnos
Eko Eko Aradia!

(These are the names of old Gods and Goddesses--Cernunnos and Aradia can be replaced with the coven's or individual's particular names for the God and Goddess if desired. This should be repeated three times after the High Priestess chants it.)

The High Priestess leads the coven in circling deosil, and at some point breaks the chain of hand-holding and weaves in and out within the circle to make a chain. No one must let go. The rest of the chant begins:

Darksome night and shining moon,
East, then South, then West, then North;
Hearken to the Witches' Rune--
Here we come to call ye forth!
Earth and water, air and fire,
Wand and pentacle and sword,
Work ye unto our desire,
Hearken ye unto our word!
Cords and censer, scourge and knife,
Powers of the witch's blade--
Waken all ye into life,
Come ye as the charm is made!
Queen of heaven, Queen of hell
Hornèd hunter of the night--
Lend your pow'r unto the spell
And work our will by magick rite!
By all the pow'r of land and sea,
By all the might of moon and sun--
As we do will, so mote it be;
Chant the spell, and be it done!

Now the "Eko, Eko" chant begins again, and continues until the Priestess is ready. She can signify this by joining hands with the last person again and restoring the ring, and then the verse that begins after she has linked hands again is the last. She will cry "Down!" and then the coven will sit where they stand.

In a solitary circle, sit down or signify readiness instead of yelling "Down," since there is no one to direct but yourself.

Source: The Farrars' A Witches' Bible


This is almost identical to another piece attributed to the same authors, known as The Ancient Call. According to Leaf McGowan, Azarak and Zomilarak are brother and sister angels representing fire and water. Cernunnos is a Celtic horned god here representing earth and Aradia represents the air and moon. "Eko" translates as something like "Hail!" or "Hail and come forth". Ronald Hutton, however, describes the Azarak and Zomilarak lines as mysterious or meaningless. They appear to have come from a 1926 article by J.F.C. Fuller which described them as "a sorcerer's cry in the Middle Ages." No source was cited nor has one ever been found.



The Rede of The Wiccae
aka The Counsel Of The Wise Ones
by Lady Gwen Thompson

1. Bide the Wiccan laws ye must in perfect love an perfect trust.

2. Live an let live -- fairly take an fairly give.

3. Cast the Circle thrice about to keep all evil spirits out.

4. To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme.

5. Soft of eye an light of touch; speak little, listen much.

6. Deosil go by the waxing Moon; sing an dance the Wiccan rune.

7. Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane, an the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.

8. When the Lady's Moon is new, kiss the hand to her times two.

9. When the Moon rides at her peak, then your heart's desire seek.

10. Heed the Northwind's mighty gale; lock the door and drop the sail.

11. When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth.

12. When the wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.

13. When the West wind blows o'er thee, departed spirits restless be.

14. Nine woods in the Cauldron go;burn them quick an burn them slow.

15. Elder be ye Lady's tree;burn it not or cursed ye'll be.

16. When the Wheel begins to turn;let the Beltane fires burn.

17. When the Wheel has turned to Yule, light the Log and let Pan rule.

18. Heed ye flower, bush an tree;by the Lady blessed be.

19. Where the rippling waters go, cast a stone an truth ye'll know.

20. When ye have need, hearken not to other's greed.

21. With the fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.

22. Merry meet an merry part; bright the cheeks an warm the heart.

23. Mind the Threefold Law ye should; three times bad and three times good.

24. When misfortune is enow, wear the blue star on thy brow.

25. True in love ever be unless thy lover's false to thee.

26. Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: "an it harm none, do what ye will."

By Lady Gwen Thompson of N.E.C.T.W., as transmitted by her grandmother, Adrianna Porter.

About The Rede of the Wiccae
by Tamryn Wyrmstar
(based on a Lesson Plan from EA Lady Beth of Silver Chalice)

The Rede of The Wiccae is often called "The Wiccan Rede" because of the last two lines of Thomspon's Rede of the Wiccae, which she attributes to her grandmother in the 1930s. It is clear to this Pagan, at least, that Porter (if she wrote it) is composing either a thing called a "faith poem" or a set or Ordains. To dispell the myth that The Rede of The Wiccae and The Wiccan Rede are the same thing, I want to draw my readers attention to line #23. Usually, where I have used a semicolon is a hyphen, I used the semi-colon for clarity. What we see here is the naming of a law. As Wiccans, we know the Law of Three is " three times bad an three times good," so we know that this line names the Law of (Threefold) Return as "the Law of Three." Line 26 follow the same pattern, and names "An it harm none, do what ye will" as the Wiccan Rede (colon and quotes added by me). The last line can be read to say: "Always follow the eight words of the Wiccan Rede, which are "An it Harm none, Do as ye will."

Porter/Thompson have used an to mean and throughout the poem, but I believe that they are both transmitting an older statement, "An it harm none, do as you will" and that they merely use an throughout the poem to give an image of continuity. In fact, I don't think this is the "an" that stands for and, but the an that we also find in this translated Prayer as it was taught to my father:

"My Father, Protect me and the creatures of the field, for they are my sheep but you are my shepard, an I never stray, I am yours." I could've just quoted part of it, but the prayer says both AN and AND, and an I never here means "If I never," or "as long as I don't ever" So the Rede itself then reads, "If it harms none, do as you will" and all the extra Ans in the poem are extra and mean "and" (I corrected a few of them to say AND). This prayer dates from about 1830, and is written in a letter in my family's archives, so this would date "an it harm none" to at LEAST that period in time.

surprisingly, lines 7 and 13 are both really silly and contrary to what most Witches believe. That they are lines 7 and 13, numbers of misinformation and ill fortune in British folklore, convince me that they are added to the Rede of the Wiccae to mislay any would be practioner of Porter's family beliefs who tries to speak their faith without the knowledge they need. The rest of the poem seems contrived of folklore rhymes, some of which you find elsewhere, like the rhyme "elder be a fairy tree, cut it not or cursed you'll be" my own parents, Christians, knew, so I believe, and always have, that Rede of The Wiccae is actually a set of ordains (which WOULD explain the enumeration) collected and added to by Porter and/or Thompson. As a set of ordains, therefore, I choose to value them as I value the ordains of ALL traditions I am not a part of- a lovely piece of writing that is not sacred to me, but that I honor as sacred to others. I agree with parts of it, I find others a bit silly, but it's not mine. To those who value it as their faith, I honor and understand you, but as a Witch, I have Ordains of my own to abide by.


Rede of the Wiccae or The Wiccan Credo
By Lady Gwen Thompson / Adriana Porter

Despite the insistence of some that the Rede is taken from this piece, the Rede of the Wiccae was not published until the 1970s by one Lady Gwen Thompson, although some attest to its existence at least a few years earlier within Thompson's own tradition. Thompson claims it was taught to her by her grandmother, Adriana Porter. The fact that it includes the word "Wiccan," however, makes it highly unlikely that this could be the case, especially when one considers that in Wicca's early years just about everyone was claiming a witchy or Wiccan grandmother.
Doreen Valiente is sometimes mistakenly credited with authoring this piece. Valiente published The Witches Creed in 1978 in her book "Witchcraft for Tomorrow", which is a completely separate document.

This is NOT the Wiccan Rede. It includes the Rede (in the last line), but it is not the Rede. It is, according to all available evidence, a document newer than the Rede. It also mentions the Witches' Rune, which is credited to Valiente and Gardner.



The Witches' Creed
by Doreen Valiente

This can be confused with the Wiccan or Witches' Credo. The two are separate documents, although they both have similar intentions. I personally find the Creed to be much more effective and certainly more poetic.

Hear now the words of the witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into the light.
Mysterious water and fire,
The earth and the wide-ranging air.
By hidden quintessence we know them,
And will and keep silent and dare.

The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magickal ring.

Four times in the year the Great Sabbat Returns,
And the witches are seen,
At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,
On May Even and old Hallowe’en.

When day-time and night-time are equal,
When sun is at greatest and least,
The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,
Again witches gather in feast.

Thirteen silver moons in a year are,
Thirteen is the coven’s array,
Thirteen times at esbat make merry,
For each golden year and a day.

The power was passed down the ages,
Each time between woman and man,
Each century unto the other,
Ere time and the ages began.

When drawn is the magickal circle,
By sword or athame or power,
Its compass between the two worlds lies,
In Land of the Shades for that hour.

This world has no right then to know it,
And world of beyond will tell naught,
The oldest of Gods are invoked there,
The Great Work of magick is wrought.

For two are the mystical pillars,
That stand at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of nature,
The forms and the forces divine.

The dark and the light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:
Of this did our ancestors teach.

By night he’s the wild wind’s rider,
The Horn’d One, the Lord of the Shades.
By day he’s the King of the Woodland,
The dweller in green forest glades.

She is youthful and old as she pleases,
She sails the torn clouds in her barque,
The bright silver Lady of midnight,
The crone who weaves spells in the dark.

The master and mistress of magick,
They dwell in the deeps of the mind,
Immortal and ever-renewing,
With power to free or to bind.

So drink the good wine to the old Gods,
And dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elphame’s fair land shall receive us,
In peace at the end of our days.

And Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it in love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment.
By magick of old be it done!

Tam O’Shanter (translation)
by Robert Burns

When the peddler people leave the streets,
And thirsty neighbors, neighbors meet;
As market days are wearing late,
And folk begin to head out the gate,
While we sit boozing on strong beer,
And getting drunk and full of cheer,
We don’t think of the long Scots miles,
The marshes, waters, steps and stiles,
That lie between us and household strife,
Where sits our sulky, sullen wife,
Gathering her brows like a gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath, to keep it warm.

This truth finds honest Tam o' Shanter,
As he from Ayr one night did canter;
Old Ayr, which never a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonny lasses.

Oh Tam, had you but been so wise,
As to take your own wife Kate’s advice!
She told you well you were a waster,
A rambling, blustering, drunken boaster,
That from November until October,
Each market day you were never sober;
When milling the corn with the miller,
You sat as long as you had silver,
For every horse he put a shoe on,
The smith and you got a roaring drunk on;
That at the Lords House, even on Sunday,
You drank with Kirkton Jean till Monday.
She prophesied, that, late or soon,
You'd be found deep drowned in River Doon,
Or caught by warlocks in the murk,
By Alloway’s old haunted church.

Ah, gentle ladies, it makes me weep,
To think how many counsels deep,
How long and hard the sage advises
The husband from the wife despises!

But to our tale :- One market night,
Tam was seated just right,
Next to a fireplace, blazing finely,
With creamy ales, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Cobbler Johnny by,
His ancient, trusted, and thirsty ally
Tam loved him like a very brother,
They had been drunk for weeks together.
The night drove on with songs and clatter,
And every ale was tasting better;
The landlady and Tam grew gracious,
With secret favors, sweet and precious;
The cobbler told his queerest stories;
The landlord’s laugh was ready chorus:
Outside, the storm might roar and rustle,
Tam did not mind the storm a whistle.

Care, mad to see a man so cheerful,
Even drowned himself in a mug full.
As bees fly home with loads of treasure,
The minutes winged their way with pleasure:
Kings may be blessed, but Tam was glorious,
Over all the ills of life victorious.

But pleasures are like poppies spread:
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow fall on the river,
A moment white - then melts forever,
Or like the northern lights race,
That flit before you can point to their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form,
Vanishing amid the storm.
No man can tether time or tide,
The hour approaches Tam must ride:
Midnight hour, night’s black peak, its keystone
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in
And such a night he takes to the road in
As never a poor sinner had been out in.

The wind blew as if it had blown its last;
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallowed,
Loud, deep and long the thunder bellowed:
That night, a child might understand,
The Devil had business on his hand.

Well mounted on his grey mare, Meg.
A better never lifted leg,
Tam, raced on through mud and mire,
Despising wind and rain and fire;
Whilst holding fast his good blue bonnet,
While crooning over some old Scots' sonnet,
Whilst glowering round with prudent care,
Lest ghosts catch him unaware:
Alloway’s Church was drawing nigh,
Where ghosts and owls nightly cry.

By this time he was across the ford,
Where in the snow the peddler froze
And past the birches and the huge stone,
Where drunken Charlie broke his neck bone;
And through the rocks, and past a cairn,
Where hunters found murdered a wee barin;
And near the thorn, above the well deep,
Where Mungo’s mother hung herself to keep.
Before him the River Doon pours all its floods;
The doubling storm roars throughout the woods;
The lightnings flashes from pole to pole;
Nearer and more near the thunders' roll;
When, glimmering through the groaning trees,
Alloway’s Church seemed in a blaze was seized,
Through every gap, light beams were glancing,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

Inspiring beer's bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers you can make us scorn!
With ale, we fear no evil;
With whisky, we’ll face the Devil!
The ales swam in Tam’s head ringing,
Fair to say devils he didn't care a farthing.
But Maggie stood, right sore astonished,
Till, by the heel and hand admonished,
She ventured forward on the light;
And, vow! Tam saw an incredible sight!

Warlocks and witches in a dance:
No cotillion, brand new from France,
But leaping like sailors, country jigs, and reels
Put life and mettle in their heels.
In a window alcove in the east,
There sat Old Nick, in shape of beast;
A shaggy dog, black, grim, and large,
To give them music was his charge:
He screwed the pipes and made them squeal,
Till roof and rafters all did peal.
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That showed the dead in their last dresses;
And, by some devilish magic sleight,
Each in its cold hand held a light:
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the holy table,
A murderer’s bones, still in gibbet-irons;
Two span-long, wee, unchristened barins;
A thief just cut from his hanging noose -
With his last gasp his mouth did hung loose;
Five tomahawks with blood red-rusted;
Five scimitars with murder crusted;
A garter with which a baby had strangled;
A knife a father’s throat had mangled -
Whom his own son of life bereft -
The grey-hairs yet stack to the shaft;
With more o' horrible and awful,
Which even to name would be unlawful.
Three Lawyers’ tongues, inside out in a curse,
Sown with lies like a beggar’s purse -
Three Priests’ hearts, rotten, black as muck
Lay stinking, vile, in every nook.

As Tammie glowered, amazed, and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious;
The piper loud and louder blew,
The dancers quick and quicker flew,
They reeled, they set, they crossed, they linked,
Till every witch sweated and reeked,
And cast her ragged clothes, threw them down,
And danced deftly at it in her under gown!

Now Tam, O Tam! had these wenches been young,
All plump and strapping teenage lips and tongue!
Their underskirts, instead of flannel all grimy,
Been snow white linen soft and lively! -
The trousers of mine, my only pair,
That once were plush, of good blue hair,
I would have dropped them from my ass
For one blink of just such a bonnie lass!

But withered hags, old and droll,
Ugly enough to suckle a foal,
Leaping and flinging on a stick,
Its a wonder it didn’t turn your stomach!

But Tam knew what was what there:
There was one winsome, jolly wench fair,
That night enlisted in the core,
Long after known on Carrick shore
(For many a beast to dead she shot,
And perished many a bonnie ship,
And shook corn and barley like a shade,
And kept the country-side afraid.)
Her short underskirt, o’ Paisley cloth,
That while a young lass she had worn,
In longitude though very limited,
It was her best, and she was proud. . .
Ah! little knew your reverent granny,
That skirt she bought for her little Nannie,
With two Scots pounds ('twas all her riches),
Would ever graced a dance of witches!

But here my Muse must bow this hour,
Such words are far beyond her power;
To sing how Nannie leaped and flung
(A supple youth she was, and strong);
And how Tam stood like one bewitched,
And thought his very eyes enriched;
Even Satan glowered, and lusted the same,
And jerked and blew with might and main;
Till first one jump, then another,
Tam lost his reason all together,
And roars out: ‘ Well done, short skirt! ’
And in an instant all was dark;
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
When out the hellish legion sallied.

As bees buzz out with anger writhe,
When plundering herds assail their hive;
As a wild hare’s mortal foes,
When, pop! she starts running before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When ‘ Catch the thief! ’ resounds aloud:
So Maggie runs, the witches close behind,
With many an unearthly scream unwind.

Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! To her advice you were uncaring!
In hell they will roast you like a herring!
In vain your Kate awaits your return!
Kate soon will mourn while your burn!
Now, Meg do your utmost and race,
beat them to the key-stone of the bridge and grace;
There, at them your tail you may flick and toss,
A running stream they dare not cross!
But before the key-stone she could make,
Maggie with her tail at the fiend had to shake;
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie pressed,
And flew at Tam with fury dire;
But little knew she Maggie’s fire!
One spring brought off her master clear,
But left behind her own grey tail dear:
The witch caught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

Now, who this tale of truth shall read,
Each man, and mother’s son, take heed:
Whenever to drink you are inclined,
Or short skirts run in your mind,
Think! you may buy joys beyond compare:
Remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare.