Hallowe'en

A poem by Virna Sheard

There is an old Italian legend which says that on the eve of the beloved festival of All Saints (Hallowe'en) the souls of the dead return to earth for a little while and go by on the wind. The feast of All Saints is followed by the feast of the dead, when for a day only the sound of the Miserere is heard throughout the cities of Italy.


Hark! Hark to the wind! 'Tis the night, they say,
When all souls come back from the far away -
The dead, forgotten this many a day!

And the dead remembered - ay! long and well -
And the little children whose spirits dwell
In God's green garden of asphodel.

Have you reached the country of all content,
0 souls we know, since the day you went
From this time-worn world, where your years were spent?

Would you come back to the sun and the rain,
The sweetness, the strife, the thing we call pain,
And then unravel life's tangle again?

I lean to the dark - Hush! - was it a sigh?
Or the painted vine-leaves that rustled by?
Or only a night-bird's echoing cry?

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