James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

October 31

Hallow E’en

By Nora Hopper Chesson (1871–1906)

AWAKE, arise, you dead men all—dead women waken you

The hunters moon is in the sky—her cruse of frosty dew

Earth empties; throw your covers off, of grave grass, rank and green;

This is the dead men’s holiday, ’tis Hallows e’en.

The mother with her buried child falls into tender play,

The baby at her shrouded breast sucks soft and sleeps away,

The lover dead twelve years ago seeks out his buried dear

That put her broken heart to sleep but yesteryear.

“Behold, my love, my hair is black, your bonny hair is white.

How come my darling’s eyes so dim?” “With weeping many a night,

With sewing many a weary day through years that knew not you,

But I have done with rosemary and bitter rue.

“My garland of dry rosemary hangs where I used to pray,

My garden with its tansy flowers runs wild for many a day;

The box plants that I tended well the passing children pull—

The green leaves strew the way they go, slow foot to school.

“And I have done with lessons now, have said my task all through,

And I may rest at last, sweetheart, as once I played with you.”

He kisses her, he blesses her, he strokes her faded hair—

She never was so dear to him when she was fair.

Brother and sister parted long by bitter words and blind

Forget the years of severed ways with old love in their minds.

The beggar that of hunger died, the girl that died of shame,

Are playing with dead children now some childish game.

Husband and wife forget the wrong that kept their souls apart—

Hand lies in hand as tenderly as heart beats upon heart.

This is the day for buried love to see as it is seen,

This is the dead men’s holiday—All Hallows e’en.