Death Despoiled: A Poem for All Hallow's Eve

Feast of Sts Cleopas and Artemas of the 70

Pumpkin_with_Cross_Square.jpegFRIGID, fallow, the fainting, frosted earth
in silence sullen, souls of sylvan shorn;
wraiths and whispers upon now welter wastes
creep carefully out from crags and caverns.
Ancient arbors, by alien asters
luminous, by lore lyric leering lure,
issue imps in ire instructed idly.
Ghouls from gaps in Gaia’s greenish garment
emerge, ennobled evening ended,
vandals vicious, violence varied.
Beasts beguild, baleful, barbarous
monsters mastered, mendacious, mad,
lurk elated, liberated from lost
groves where grow garish garlands, growing green.

Arts arcane, and alf’s argot, ailing ache,
magicians marshall: magic minstrels,
bards of Baals barking, by Bacchus babbling
incantations, institutes irksome,
free from fell furrows, fall in foul congress;
lunatics loosened by Luna’s light
guffaw with goblins, growling geists galore.
Devouring demons, dealing dolorous,
nocturn knocks, gnarled knaves, knowledge knotted,
serpents sly, slithering, soft-spoken, now
wyverns wooing, warsome, wailing, and wont
to terrible tantrums, torrential tears,
hateful hearts: hoary harpies, horrible,
prowling process, preying pestilences.

Gaily gathered, glowering, gleeful,
about oft-tearstained tombstones tarrying,
of man’s monuments mockery making,
sing they songs so sumptuous and sordid
of his doom. Delirious, delighted,
those ill intellects, infamous, irate,
ravenous rebels once rebuked
and often, of oracles obstinate;
bemused by contrast the baited beasts
by Hadean hatred, yet not having.
Watch the wizards from weathered willows,
Fay folk from fallow forests in their fashion,
this mass from Minos’ molten mire missing,
staying silent as the shorn, sullen earth.

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Then lately, and low, in languid leisure,
terror tolerating no trifling
evil emerges from the eerie ether,
flash of gold and fire upon it flaring,
smells sweetened, sweetly simmering, sparks
crafted from callous charcoal, censer-craft,
hoods grey as a gale from the far-off sea.
Deep their dirges, deeper still the darting
joy, jealous, jovial as the jocund
dawn, dire doom of darkness, death despoiled.
Process behind them, profuse with prayers,
weeping, by withering wax wicks walking,
faces ferrous, felicitous, foil of fiends,
air-aloft the auspicious aegis.

What wonder, wreath of wonder, in weakness wrought:
gold’s glory ignoble, gems go genuflect
before the blessed wood, and beasts obey,
and devils are defrocked by dour fright:
cackling curses cower beneath the cross.
Scatter they the sabre seeing, shrieking,
by that barren bane besieged, borne off
the pride of their pernicions, preyed
upon by their own science, by it slain.
Tears terrorize them, now trained by hope,
for hallowed haven longing, hell harrowed,
lusts languish, lore loquacious lauding,
impetuous Infernum impotent.
Return they to reap of rest what they may.

For an excellent history of Halloween - its Christian origins and cosmic significance - see Armstrong's post All Hallow's Eve: A Concise History of Halloween & Its Cosmic Significance


David Armstrong is an Orthodox Christian who enjoys a shameless love affair with Jews, Judaism, and other Christians. He graduated with a BA in Religious Studies (minor in Classical Greek) from Missouri State University in Springfield, MO, where he is now working on an MA in Biblical Studies. He has an avid interest in far too many things, and would do well to specialize.


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