9 Spooky Poems for Samhain

Samhain night is a great time to sit around a fire telling spooky stories. Check out this collection of classic scary poems to read, either alone or out loud. All of them are classics worth reading at Samhain! Check out this collection of classic scary poems to read, either alone or out loud. Oh, and if you hear something go bump in the darkness behind you, don't panic... much.

1
Edgar Allen Poe, "The Raven"

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First published in 1845, this is the classic poem of fear and terror. The narrator never tells us why there's a raven on his threshhold, but a few stanzas in we begin to realize it has to do with his lost love, the mourned Lenore. By the time we reach the end, the narrator is well on his way to madness, driven there by the "stately Raven of the saintly days of yore." For those of us who enjoy a slightly sillier version of our spookiness, watch the original Simpsons Treehouse of Horror (1990), which features Bart sqwawking "Eat my shorts!" at an enraged Homer.
 

2
Edgar Allen Poe, "Annabel Lee"

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Each night, the narrator lies down to mourn his lost lady, next to her grave by the sea. Although poetry experts aren't sure exactly who inspired this specific tale, Poe was likely influenced by the loss of many important women in his life, including his mother and his wife Virginia, who passed away from tuberculosis, two years before he wrote this work. A classic bit of Poe, relating the tale of lost and doomed lovers, and the wind that "came out of the cloud, chilling and killing my Annabel Lee." By the time you get to the final stanza, you'll be chilled too!

3
Traditional Ballad, "Tam Lin"

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First written down by James Francis Child in 1729, the tale of Tam Lin has been around for centuries. Young Tam Lin finds himself out on Halloween, and drawn into the arms of the Queen of the Fae in her seductive green mantle.
 

4
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

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A wedding guest meets an old sailor, and finds himself the recipient of this scary narrative, originally written in 1798. The titular character confesses, With my cross-bow, I shot the albatross, and things get progressively worse from there. Coleridge's ancient mariner relates the tale of what happened to the men of the doomed ship upon which he once sailed, and hopes to find absolution for himself in the telling of the story.

5
Robert Burns, "Halloween"

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Samhain is a time to honor the dead, and celebrate the connection between this world and the next. Image by PeskyMonkey/E+/Getty Images

Burns' Scottish dialect may be hard to translate for some readers, but if you take the time to figure out the story, it's well worth it. The family in the poem participates in some traditional Halloween customs, including divination and the pulling of oats for a blessing.
 

6
William Shakespeare, Witches Spell Scene from "Macbeth"

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Samhain is a time of many superstitions and legends. Image by mediaphotos/E+/Getty Images

"Double, double, toil and trouble" is the classic line from Shakespeare's MacBeth, written in 1606. A veritable grocery list of vile spell ingredients, this is great fun to read aloud on a dark and windy night. For a bit of extra fun, read it as your little ones are doing inventory of their Halloween loot bags.
 

7
Robert Frost, "Ghost House"

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Written in classic Frost style, this poem evokes the feeling we've all gotten at one point or another, looking at an empty home site, or a field where nothing remains but the mists.
 

8
Lord Byron, "Darkness"

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In 1816, young George Gordon Lord Byron wrote this eerie tale of despair and sadness in which humanity and mankind itself are defeated by the things that lurk in the dark. This apocalyptic tale was written in the same year that a massive volcano erupted in the Dutch East Indies, and the ash cloud covered the skies over much of North America and Europe. Coincidence?
 

9
John Donne, "The Apparition"

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A jilted lover threatens to come back after he dies, and haunt the woman who broke his heart, and hints that her presumed promiscuity has somehow wronged him. A spooky, scary poem of plans for murder and vengeance from beyond the grave!