Last night, the waxing crescent moon shone eerily through a veil of cloud and I felt a chill of excitement for this time of year. As we ready ourselves for Halloween, the clocks fall back and autumn will creep into the darkness of November. There is magic in the air and it tempts our senses with the fiery, fallen leaves that crunch underfoot on chilly mornings and the tickles of woodsmoke in the twinkling twilight.
My sister and I were quite ghoulish children. We enjoyed spooky tales and frightening films. As a teenager, I read so many horror thrillers that our village librarian, fearing for my taste in the gruesome, had to have words with my mother. I don’t like gore, but I enjoy suspense and mystery. I believe in signs and spirits, but try not to be superstitious. Growing up in South Africa we never really celebrated Halloween. There it is now late spring which brings the brightness of warmer weather and longer days. My family have also suffered a great loss at this time of year, and for a long time after it didn’t seem appropriate to indulge in the macabre.
Now I enjoy celebrating Halloween with my husband and children – we decorate the house with fake cobwebs and skeletons, carve pumpkins into lanterns, dress up in cute costumes and watch The Addams Family and Sleepy Hollow on repeat.
I recently discovered this atmospheric poem by American novelist and poet George Parsons Lathrop (1851 – 1898). I think it is a perfect ode to this time of year. Below is an excerpt which I hope you will enjoy. Happy Halloween!
Incantation, George Parsons Lathrop
When the leaves, by thousands thinned,
A thousand times have whirled in the wind,
And the moon, with hollow cheek,
Staring from her hollow height,
Consolation seems to seek
From the dim, reechoing night;
And the fog-streaks dead and white
Lie like ghosts of lost delight
O’er highest earth and lowest sky;
Then, Autumn, work thy witchery!