A Short Analysis of Robert Burns’s ‘Halloween’

Written in 1785 and published the following year, ‘Halloween’ is not Robert Burns’s best-known poem, but it is one of his longest. Focusing on the traditions and activities associated with Halloween in eighteenth-century Scotland, ‘Halloween’ is best read aloud – but failing that, here’s the text of the full poem (all 252 lines of it!).

Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
The simple pleasure of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
 – Goldsmith

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the rout is ta’en,
Beneath the moon’s pale beams;
There, up the Cove, to stray an’ rove,
Amang the rocks and streams
To sport that night;

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A Very Short Biography of M. R. James

The curious life of Montague Rhodes James

Many people regard M. R. James (1862-1936) as the finest writer of ghost stories in the English language. How did he come to write such highly regarded tales? In this post we offer a very short biography of M. R. James, focusing on the most curious or eye-catching aspects of his life.

Montague Rhodes James was born in Kent, England in 1862, the son of a clergyman, though from the age of three he was raised in Suffolk. The family lived at the Rectory in Great Livermere, Suffolk, which, a century and a half earlier, been the childhood home of the Suffolk antiquary Thomas Martin (c. 1696–1771), nicknamed ‘Honest Tom Martin of Palgrave’. Whether the course of M. R. James’s life – namely, his lifelong interest in the past – was inspired on some level by Honest Tom’s ghost is not, alas, recorded.

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10 of the Best Gothic Poems for Halloween

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

What are the best poems about Halloween, the best poems for Halloween? In this post, we’ve gathered up a mixture of the two: some of the following ten poems are specifically about Halloween, while others are suitably Gothic poems to enjoy on or around Halloween.

So, if you have your pumpkin at the ready, you can discover more about each poem by clicking on the title of each poem to take you through to a treat rather than a trick …

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10 Classic Victorian Ghost Stories Everyone Should Read

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

As the nights are drawing in, how about a ghost story? The Victorians loved a ghost story, and many of the most celebrated writers of Victorian novels had a go at this ghoulish genre, from Elizabeth Gaskell to Charles Dickens to Robert Louis Stevenson. Here are ten of our favourites. If you like the sound of these suggestions, more blood-curdling reading matter can be found in our pick of Edgar Allan Poe’s best stories.

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Special Halloween Post: The Forgotten Victorian Novelist Who Outsold Dickens

As the nights are beginning to draw in and Halloween approaches, how about something to make the flesh creep and send a shiver down the spine? Charles Dickens was a master of the macabre, whether it’s in his Christmas ghost stories such as A Christmas Carol, in the chilling Gothic emptiness of Satis House in Great … Read more