The Condenser

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Slice of Halloween Doggerel

Here at the Condenser, our eyes rarely stray from the nonfiction stacks - and yet there is something intriguing in the almost blunt simplicity of this little poem from Alvin Lincoln Snow's Songs of the White Mountains, and Other Poems (1892). It appears, does its job, and leaves, establishing a classic Halloween cliché without bothering to add any twist or quirk of its own. A nice little artifact from a time when, perhaps, the idea of a haunted house was still fresh enough to stand on its own.


Gloomy, but grand, it rises nobly high,

Amid huge emerald circumambient trees.

Fair vines, whose beautiful blossoms scent the breeze,

Clamber till on its very roof they lie.

Proudly its cupola points to the sky!

Round it lie lawns as smooth as summer seas;

Nature and Art are there combined to please,

But none will dwell within those walls or nigh.

All there seems dead till midnight's solemn hour,

And then (so gossiping villagers declare)

A mysterious light at one high window gleams;

And by that light a form is seen to cower

Like one in mortal terror or despair,

Then fade away—like those beheld in dreams.

Incidentally, if you're a lover of bad poetry, keep an eye out for a copy of The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse, recently reissued by the New York Review of Books - it's one of our favorites.

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