11 Spooky Poems For Halloween Season About Witches, Ghosts, And Bad Omens

Tina Crespo/Stocksy

October is here, and you know what that means: it is officially time to get in the Halloween spirit. In addition to watching horror movies, eating candy corn, and decorating your house with fake cobwebs and skulls this year, don't forget to read some spooky poems for Halloween season. Nothing quite says All Hallows Eve like reciting scary stanzas about ghosts, witches, bats, and bad omens.

When you think of poetry, what comes to mind? Most people associate it with love, romance, and heartache, but poetry actually has a long and rich history of being, well, spooky. From Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson to Rainer Maria Rilke and John Keats, poets have been penning spine-tingling stanzas about things like haunted houses, wicked witches, and possessed people for centuries. Halloween is, of course, the perfect time to read them.

Whether you are looking for something scary to read at your annual holiday bash, or just trying to get into the spirit of the holiday on your own, these 11 spooky poems for Halloween season just might be exactly what you need. But be warned: just because these poems are shorter than your typical horror novel or scary story doesn't mean they're any less terrifying.

1"The Witch-Bride" by William Allingham

Giphy

A fair witch crept to a young man’s side,

And he kiss’d her and took her for his bride.

But a Shape came in at the dead of night,

And fill’d the room with snowy light.

And he saw how in his arms there lay

A thing more frightful than mouth may say.

Read in full.

2"The Hour and the Ghost" by Cristina Rossetti

Giphy

O love, love, hold me fast,

He draws me away from thee;

I cannot stem the blast,

Nor the cold strong sea:

Far away a light shines

Beyond the hills and pines;

It is lit for me.

Read in full.

3"Spirits of the Dead" by Edgar Allan Poe

Giphy

Thy soul shall find itself alone

‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;

Not one, of all the crowd, to pry

Into thine hour of secrecy.

Read in full.

4"To the Dead in the Graveyard Underneath My Window" by Adelaide Crapsey

Giphy

How can you lie so still? All day I watch

And never a blade of all the green sod moves

To show where restlessly you toss and turn,

And fling a desperate arm or draw up knees

Stiffened and aching from their long disuse;

I watch all night and not one ghost comes forth

To take its freedom of the midnight hour.

Read in full.

5"Portent" by William Carlos Williams

Giphy

Red cradle of the night,

In you

The dusky child

Sleeps fast till his might

Shall be piled

Sinew on sinew.

Read in full.

6"The Witch" by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

Giphy

I have walked a great while over the snow,

And I am not tall nor strong.

My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,

And the way was hard and long.

I have wandered over the fruitful earth,

But I never came here before.

Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door.

Read in full.

7"Black Cat" by Rainer Maria Rilke

Giphy

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place

your sight can knock on, echoing; but here

within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze

will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else

can ease him, charges into his dark night

howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels

the rage being taken in and pacified.

Read in full.

8"Bats" by Paisley Rekdal

Giphy

unveil themselves in dark.

They hang, each a jagged,

silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright

as polished knives. They swim

the muddled air and keen

like supersonic babies, the sound

we imagine empty wombs might make

in women who can’t fill them up.

Read in full.

9"Windigo" by Louise Erdrich

Giphy

You knew I was coming for you, little one,

when the kettle jumped into the fire.

Towels flapped on the hooks,

and the dog crept off, groaning,

to the deepest part of the woods.

Read in full.

10"Omens" by Cecilia Llompart

Giphy

The dead bird, color of a bruise,

and smaller than an eye

swollen shut,

is king among omens.

Read in full.

11"The Eve of St. Agnes" by John Keats

Giphy

St. Agnes' Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!

The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;

The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,

And silent was the flock in woolly fold:

Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told

His rosary, and while his frosted breath,

Like pious incense from a censer old,

Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,

Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.

Read in full.