Samhain | Hallowe’en

In the darkened room

Dim lamps and candles flare

It’s time –

Push back the chairs

Leave room for all the souls

Abroad tonight to mingle and remember

Set out the meats and bread

Uncap the warming drink

Nostalgia fills the cups

They whisper tales of youth

Thin voices rustling

Around the laden table

The living leap the fires

Gather nuts and fruit and

Mirror-gaze to see the future

Bright ring of day approaches

Reluctant, trailing wraiths

Rise and fade like smoke

While weary mortals sleep.

Percy Bysshe Shelley | Ode to the West wind

Every year at this time I quote this poem to anyone who will listen to me. I learned it off by heart at school when I was sixteen and still remember most of it. And this is my old school book – A Pageant of English Verse. The poem is quite perfect. I’ll just quote a few verses here, to give you a flavour of it – it’s very long in its entirety.

O wild west wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,

Pestilence-stricken multudes – O thou

Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds . . .

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.

Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!

I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

Be through my lips to unawakened earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O, wind,

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?