bats in the sky

11 Spine-Chilling Poems for Halloween

It’s officially spooky season, and what better way is there to celebrate than by reading and sharing some of your favorite spine-chilling poems? Whether you cozy up and read them solo or recite them around a fire with friends, these 11 poems for Halloween will surely get the ghosts, ghouls, and witches brewing. 


“& i’ve only just begun” by Amanda Lovelace

From Amanda Lovelace’s 2018 poetry collection, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One, this short and sweet poem encourages readers to embrace their witchy side. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by amanda lovelace (@ladybookmad)


Bats” by Paisley Rekdal

Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rakdal evokes moonlit rafters, polished knives, and driblets of iodine in this dark and eerie poem. From her 2008 collection, The Invention of the Kaleidoscope, “Bats” will leave you in awe of the animal’s unsettling nature. 


Ghost Villanelle” by Dan Lechay

From Dan Lechay’s 2003 collection, The Quarry, the poem “Ghost Villanelle” plays with form and ominous imagery. This dark and playful villanelle will leave you feeling like a ghost could be right around the corner. 


Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti

Victorian poet Christina Rossetti is best known for her ballads chock-full of symbolism and intensity. Her poem “Goblin Market” tells a lyrical and sweetly sinister story of siblings, sisterhood, and unexpected evils. 



Halloween in the Anthropocene, 2015” by Craig Santos Perez

For a modern twist on a Halloween poem, let’s fast forward to 2015. Poet Craig Santos Perez published “Halloween in the Anthropocene, 2015” in the April 2016 issue of Poetry magazine. Told in 11 stanzas, this poem tells not of imagined horrors, but of real-world injustice and suffering. 



Incantation” by George Parsons Lathrop

Nineteenth-century poet George Parsons Lathrop ushers in the sighs, smells, and sounds of fall with this seasonal poem. But “Incantation” is more than a celebration. Death, souls, and spirits come to life as the poem reaches its ominous ending. 


Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I by William Shakespeare

Would it really be Halloween without one round of “double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble?” Shakespeare’s Macbeth incites fear year-round, but during Halloween, it’s all the more fitting. 


Mildew” by Charlotte Dacre

Another nineteenth-century poet, Charlotte Dacre authored several books and often wrote under the pseudonym Rosa Matilda. Her brief and troubling poem “Mildew” bring to mind a sense of darkness, the undead, and the grotesque. 


Omens” by Cecilia Llompart

Author of The Wingless (2014), poet Cecilia Llompart splits her time between the U.S. and France. Her poem “Omens” evokes images of a dead bird, a crime scene, and a cold sky to bring forth a chilling feeling: what have we lost? what have we taken for granted? 


Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Browning

Poet and playwright Robert Browning was influential in the twentieth century for his use of diction, rhythm, and symbolism. “Porphyria’s Lover” is no exception. This haunting poem was Browning’s first-ever dramatic monologue and tells the story of a dark and gruesome murder. 


The Haunted Palace” by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe might be the king of Halloween poetry. And while “The Raven” haunts many minds to this day, his poem “The Haunted Palace” might be just as chilling. Rhythmic and rhyming, this poem tells of a haunted place and is best recited around a warm and cozy fire.