Thursday, October 30, 2014

Poetry Friday -- The Halloween Tree

 "Always the same but different, eh? every age, every time. Day was always over. Night was always coming. And weren't you always afraid, Apeman there? or you, Mummy, that the sun will never rise again?"

"Yesss," more of them whispered.

And they looked up through the levels of the great house and saw every age, every story and all the men in history staring round about as the sun rose and set. Apemen trembled. Egyptians cried laments. Greeks and Romans paraded their dead. Summer fell dead. Winter put it in the grave. A billion voices wept...Then, with cries of delight, ten thousand times a million men welcomed back bright summer suns which rose to burn each window with fire!

"Do you see lads? Think! People vanished forever. They died, oh Lord, they died! but came back in dreams. Those dreams were called Ghosts, and frightened men in every age..."

"Night and day. Summer and winter, boys. Seedtime and harvest. Life and death. That's what Halloween is, all rolled up in one. Noon and midnight. Being born, boys. Rolling over, playing dead like dogs, lads. And getting up again, barking, racing through thousands of years of death each day and each night Halloween, boys, every night, every single night dark and fearful until at last you made it and hid in cities and towns and had some rest and could get your breath.

"And you began to live longer and have more time, and space out the deaths and put away fear, and at last have only special days in each year when you thought of night and dawn and spring and autumn and being born and being dead.

"And it all adds up. Four thousand years ago, one hundred years ago, this year, one place or another, but the celebrations all the same -- "

"The Feast of Samhain --"
"The Time of the Dead Ones -- "
"All Souls'. All Saints'."
"The Day of the Dead."
"El Dia De Muerte."
"All Hallows'."

The boys sent their frail voices up, up through the levels of time, from al the countries, and all the ages, naming the holidays which were the same.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Trick or Treat!

This prose poem is from near the end of THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Ray Bradbury. The whole book is one long love song to Halloween -- a fantastic historical romp through times and ages, led by Mr. Moundshroud himself, and exploring what this time of death has meant and still means today.

Our beggars are out tonight, disguised in all manner of classic and modern costumes, braving the chill and the early dark, crunching through the dead leaves on the sidewalk, shouting at strangers, and receiving candy in their bags and baskets and buckets as the tradition of the celebration of death lives on.

Linda has the Poetry Friday roundup at TeacherDance.


  1. "And you began to live longer and have more time, and space out the deaths and put away fear..."

    I'm not at all familiar with The Halloween Tree. Tomorrow would be a good time to look for it.

    1. You are in for a treat, Diane! It is also fabulous on audio. I just finished listening to it this past week!

  2. I used to read this to my students as a read aloud, Mary Lee, & my favorite Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, is so similar in tone. Thanks for reminding me how beautiful Bradbury writes. I love your words too, "crunching through the dead leaves on the sidewalk, shouting at strangers," Thank you!

    1. I read it aloud, too! I think I always got more out of it than the kids, but I loved letting Bradbury's language wash over them!

  3. I'm not familiar with THE HALLOWEEN TREE, it is going on my to read list too. Thanks for the information.

  4. Oh, I wasn't familiar with THE HALLOWEEN TREE. Thanks for sharing :) and have a spooky night!

  5. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Good morning! Happy Halloween, everyone!

  6. Ah, Bradbury. Thanks, Mary Lee.

  7. Wow! Bradbury packs a punch! Thanks for sharing The Halloween Tree, Mary Lee! =)

  8. Wow! I gotta read this!

  9. Add another "I gotta read his one" to the list, Mary Lee.

  10. Mary Lee, thanks for letting Bradbury's words wash over me. It was a treat for Halloween weekend. Your last paragraph seems like the start of a poem to me. Might you consider using your photos of pumpkins to mix your words into poetic form for the Finding Fall Gallery (

  11. Oooohhhh - perfect selection. I was trying to place it and guessed it might be from "Something Wicked this Way Comes..." - guess I was kind of close, anyway! Thanks for sharing, and may your frightful weekend give way to a cozy November.

  12. Appreciations for adding a title new to me to my reading list. I treasure Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine" novel but this ghostie entry, THE HALLOWEEN TREE, has got to be gobble up by me.

    j a n


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