Lo! ’tis a gala night….

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…Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

This is the first stanza of the expectedly macabre, somewhat depressing, but beautifully crafted poem The Conquerer Worm by the great Edgar Allan Poe. The poem describes the inevitability of death, but on this dreary Halloween, revelers will pour onto the streets and into the bars and parties of their respective towns and celebrate–life, silly costumes, ghosts,  ghouls, probably more than a few occupy wall street protesters and Jersey Shore cast members, and of course, spirits. Spirits, that is, of a character most transformative to one’s disposition…

If you can’t make it to the masquerades, then do yourself a favor and don’t let the mood of the evening pass you by. Pour yourself a glass of Amontillado,  and curl up by a fire with your e-reader and look through Project Gutenberg’s collection from the likes of Poe, Hawthorne, Shelly and Stoker [Linked content no longer available].

There are so many spooky reads to choose from, so we’ll give you one to start with below. Happy reading, and Happy Halloween!

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The Haunted Palace

In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion—
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This—all this—was in the olden
Time long ago),
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute’s well-tunëd law,
Bound about a throne where, sitting
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate !)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh—but smile no more.