Halloween 2023 is upon us and for this spooky season we wanted to share with all the poets of the world our Halloween poetry ideas. Whether you are a new poet looking for inspiration or a seasoned poet looking to spice up your inspiration resources – this list is designed to help you make the most of the Halloween spirit for your poetry.
Read on for a detailed list of ideas you can use right now!
Writing about any subject will be hard without understanding the history behind it; and this is especially true for cultural events. To help you with your poetic craft, I’ve decided to put together a (very) brief history of Halloween.
Where did Halloween start?
Halloween started as a traditional and ancient Celtic festival in which common people would wear costumes and burn bonfires to ward off evil spirits from their communities and homes. The original festival was named Samhain; and was the most significantly celebrated festival of the four quarterly Celtic fire festivals. Traditionally, this festival usually fell during the winter solstice and autumn equinox after harvest time.
It was this time period that was also commonly associated with human death, and the ancient Celts believed that on October 31st, the ghosts of the dead returned to the world of the living.
Gruesome fact: after the yearly harvest was completed, Celtic Druids joined with their communities to light a community fire while Cattle were sacrificed. It was customary for participants to take a flame from this communal fire home afterwards.
It is thought that Samhain was celebrated for three days and three nights in which commoners were to show themselves to local chieftains and kings, and that celebration was mandatory. Failure to join in the celebrations was believed to bring punishment from the gods; in the form of death or grave illness.
How did Halloween become so popular among everyone?
Halloween didn’t become a popular cultural event until both Christianity and Celtic traditions blended in their celebrations of Samhain on October 31st, All Saints Day on November 1st, and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd.
Pope Gregory III was the figure that designated November 1st as All Saints Day; a day to honour all the saints and martyrs of the Christian religion in A.D. 609. It wasn’t until A.D. 1000 that All Souls’ Day was designated as November 2nd; a day for people of the Christian faith to remember and honour the dead. It is often believed that these Christian celebrations were designated to replace the Celtic holiday.
In today’s day and age, All Souls’ Day, All Saints Day, and Samhain are all celebrated as Halloween; with only fervent believers celebrating the Christian and Celtic festivals separately.
Where did the name Halloween come from?
The term Halloween was said to have originated from All Saints Day and it is thought that it was derived from the Middle English Alholowmesse, meaning All Saints’ Day.
In modern English this developed to All-hallows or All-hallowmas. It was the night before All Saints Day that was called All-Hallows Eve – which also happened to be Samhain of the Celtic religion. This eventually led to it being named Halloween in contemporary English.
Related: Why not take a look at a dark poetry chapbook from Lore Publication?
A Nihilist’s Bible
A dark poetry collection by Stewart Storrar.
Dynamic, authentic, brilliant, and thought provoking, Nihilist’s Bible is the debut dark poetry book from the young Scottish writer, Stewart Storrar. This first piece of full-length work from Stewart delves into the darker recesses of the human condition and explores what it means to be human in the modern world.
Halloween Poetry Ideas
With a brief understanding of Halloween, it is time to get to the ideas! Before you decide on what to write about, you should decide what poetic form you want to write in.
- You could write a free verse Halloween poem. Free verse will allow you some freedom to explore word blending, themes, and forge your own style the way you’d like. It isn’t for everyone but can present an interesting basis for your poem. For those new to poetry, free verse is a type of poetry without regular rhythm or any rhymes.
- If Halloween is a very personal festival for you, or evokes strong emotions for you, then perhaps a Lyric poem would suit you best. Again, for those new to poetry, a Lyric poem is a more formal style of poetry that is typically used to express the feelings or emotions of the poet.
- If you feel like you have a character, or a story to tell, you could try some Narrative poetry.
- If you like the idea of a Lyric poem but want to create something with a more melodic undertone, then an Ode may be more your thing. Odes are a type of poem that can be read, or sung.
- For those who want more of a challenge, you could have a shot at penning a sonnet. Again, for the new poets out there, a sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines that uses formal and recognisable rhyme schemes. For those more advanced poets out there, why not stick to the classical structure of having only ten syllables per line?
I won’t bore you by going through every single type of poem – but above are some suggestions to get you started.
Halloween Poetry Starter Lines
Having trouble starting your poem? Why not consider starting with one of these:
- For a free verse, you could start with;
On All-hallows Eve,
In which the reaper stalks,
And the world rests,
Upon the crest of the dead…
- For a Lyrical poem, you may want to start with how you feel or what you expect to feel, such as;
Such a tremendous calling
To the void I hear,
- Or for those who want more of a challenge, why not start a sonnet with;
With the shrill calling of those that once lived,
And the shrill calling of those still to live…
Don’t forget that, with sonnets, the classical structure is:
- Abab, Cdcd, Efef, Gg
With ten syllables per line and that you need to adhere to the fourteen line limit. If you really want to stick to the strict rule set of a sonnet, then your ten syllable limit needs an iambic pentameter (hard mode!).
Halloween Topics For Poems
While it is all good and well knowing about the history of Halloween and reading into the types of poetry you can write, starter lines are only as good as the topic about which the poem is written.
To help you with this, I’ve decided to create a short list of Halloween topics for poems you can consider:
- Samhain sacrifice.
- Trick or treating.
- Pumpkin carving.
- Ghosts; either personal, impersonal.
- The Devil.
- Demons; underworld, ‘real’ kinds, or the inner kind.
- Honouring the dead.
- Fearing the dead.
- The modern day excitement of a child for Halloween.
- A concept of Samhain from a commoners perspective.
- Think of Halloween as a sentient thing; what would it say or do?
- Describe an environment during Halloween through the eyes of a child.
- Describe Halloween from the perspective of a spirit returning to Earth during the celebrations.
While this isn’t an extensive list, it provides ample food for thought around Halloween and related topics.
Find More Inspiration With Lore
I hope this short article has given you some ideas! Don’t forget that Lore has all kinds of horror flash fiction and horror short stories to get stuck into too – keep that spooky feeling going and delve into some fiction for the mind.
- Horror Flash Fiction
- Horror Short Stories
- Poetry Blog
- Short Fiction Depository
- List of 400+ fantasy words for writers
As a last note, did I get anything wrong? I encourage fact checking! Be sure to reach out if I should update this information at all (with sources, of course).