Several years ago, I was a member of a large online community, and joined a group that aimed to celebrate the Irish heritage of its members. It was a fun little thing, and I took to regularly posting Irish jokes, or the lyrics to traditional Irish songs - they started calling me the group's bard. And so one year I wrote this poem for them, drawing on the traditions of Samhain and some additional folklore. It needs some work, as I'd like the opening and closing lines to not rip off William Allingham's The Fairies, at least quite so blatantly. I'm sure there are other lines that are, if not blatant rip-offs, at least highly derivative, but I am at a loss to remember all of my sources at this point; I strongly doubt that the 15th line is original, because I like it too far, far too much for that to be the case. Still, I love this time of year, and either tonight or tomorrow, I plan to create a fun playlist on Spotify full of Halloween-y-type songs. I promise it will be full of Zombina and the Skeletones, and will probably also include soundtracks to Evil Dead: The Musical, and a punk version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, assuming I can dig up those CDs. I may post a link to it here, if I remember. Anyway, here's the poem:
We dare not go a-hunting, warns the poet,
For fear of the good folk in red caps.
A history of imagination weaves rich tradition around Samhain:
The new year begins with a new cycle in darkness;
The good folk dance with ghosts; witches make spells;
And the barriers between the worlds fade.
The dead, and those yet to live are able to walk the earth—
They are honored with feasts and entertainment,
While in the stillness of the dark half
Glimmers of new beginnings ready themselves for our hopes.
The festival of the dead is our final harvest,
Our livestock brought down from the hills to live closer and warm,
And the family works together, and whispers together:
Of fallen angels too good to be lost;
Of the lost gods of fallen
with every charm but
Frightening tales of the pooka, born of the race of nightmares—
And witches, who sing their ancient rhymes and fly off
To their home in Slievenamon or over the Wicklow hills—
Their spells smell of the grave.
Up the airy mountain we go,
And down the rushing glen we return
To celebrate the closeness of the gods in the closing of summer.