Halloween Reading

by Bill Kauffman on October 26, 2009 · 12 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short,Writers & Poets

“I love Old October so,

I can’t bear to see her go—”

—James Whitcomb Riley

Via The American Conservative: http://www.amconmag.com/article/2009/dec/01/00050/ Subscribe, won’t you?

And your favorites…..?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Bob Cheeks October 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Funny how it’s been within the last few days that I’ve taken down my worn copy of the Oxford World’s Classics, M.R. James, Casting of the Runes and other Ghost Stories. But August Dereleth and his classic “Cassius” was a favorite of my misspent youth, though it be a tale of horror, madness and revenge.

“On the whole, then, I say you must have horror and also malevolence.”
M.R. James

avatar Brandon October 29, 2009 at 9:22 pm

As a Hoosier, James Whitcomb Riley is certainly one of my favorites. My father during his 40 yrs of teaching 6th graders would read Riley, especially around this time of year. Unfortunately, his writings are only available to those with the ambition to learn more about Hoosier writers; rarely is he read or studied by our youth and certainly not in the curriculum.

My own sentiments to October are toasted in his fine simple verse. I have always enjoyed your nod to the great Hoosier authors.

avatar Patrick J. Deneen October 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Ode to Autumn
John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

–It is my favorite Keats poem of all, about my favorite season…

avatar cecelia October 29, 2009 at 10:38 pm

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came.
The Chestnuts, Oaks and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses maple
In scarlet looked their best.

3rd grade – the first poem I recall memorizing because I thought it was so grand I wanted to remember it forever – sadly – I forget the last verse! Do they still teach this to children?

avatar Brandon October 30, 2009 at 9:40 am

My favorite poem that defines the autumn time, the end of harvest, and the joy in seeing the fruits of labor. In this poem Riley wrote dialect with such accuity that it reads just as I can hear folks talk today in southern Indiana. Some of his best work was capturing the dialect of the German immigrants in Indiana, as well…..Autumn, what a joy!

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then the time a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!…
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—
I’d want to ‘commodate ‘em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

avatar Chris Floyd October 30, 2009 at 10:08 am

Surely, it was just lack of space that forced you to leave out Ray Bradbury, right, Mr. Kauffman? Something Wicked This Way Comes is autumn poetry in prose form. It may be boyhood itself on the page! And October Country has many fascinating stories. I particularly remember “The Jar,” with the neighborhood men sitting around night after night speculating about what IS in that jar??

I’m a big Lovecraft fan, but I don’t recognize the quotation. Where is it from? A letter?

avatar D.W. Sabin October 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Who you calling “fusty” buster?

avatar Bill Kauffman October 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I agree, Chris: Ray B is the poet of October. I wrote about him here: http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/?p=3939.
Coincidentally, Brandon, last night we read “When the Frost is on the Punkin.” Our daughter memorized it when just a couple of years old and even now she loves to say “they’s somethin’ kinda harty-like about the atmosphere…”

avatar Bill Kauffman October 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm

P.S. The Lovecraft quote is from August Derleth’s memoir Walden West (1961).

avatar Brandon October 31, 2009 at 12:26 am

Mr. Kauffman, “On Hospitality” was closed for comment today when I tried to comment. I appreciate your commitment to the libertarian crowd,of which I belong. You are the first, and only, person who has linked my inherit conservatism and small government libertarianism into an argument that did not require some amazing shift of belief or philosophical dispute that as happened on this site over the last week. Sure, as a philosopher of politics the arguments compel me to learn more, but I wonder what there is to learn? After reading “Come Home America”, and “Drunken Prophet” I have seen the misguided ways of the “American Way”. I love America more now but not for what we are taught is the “American Way”, but for the individualism, free thought, and self responsible life that truly means America.

Keep up the great work for those who hold out hope that there is a better way and even if that way is thwarted, at least it stays alive…I don’t see government ever being the answer only the impediment. While sentiments different from this has led to the FPR being maligned in Takimag, I see how the FPR is a haven for differing theories however many of those may support big government locally (not always a good thing at all) versus federally or globally.

I see Dorothy Day and Murray Rothbard as the perfect link, while many would say they both are not aligned and too stringent under the “reality” of government under our current system/empire… to be linked. I believe the best government is local, but I implore local officials to not make their government a substitute dictatorship.

Bill Kauffman thank you for your sanity, keep it flowing, work hard, and stay on the message that you keep alive. People do listen and it is worth it.

avatar Major Wootton November 3, 2009 at 10:24 pm

“The Withered Arm” by Thomas Hardy is an engrossing eerie story.

The best ghost story that I know might be Burrage’s “One Who Saw.”

avatar Cathy Robinson August 31, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Regarding James Whitcomb Riley’s poem “When the Frost is on the Punkin,” could you tell me what kyouck means? Thank you!

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