Ghosts Poems

Ghosts have long fascinated poets who seek to explore the realms of the supernatural and the mysteries of existence.

These verses capture the intangible essence of ghosts, painting a captivating portrait of their enigmatic nature. Poets delve into the realm of the supernatural, exploring themes of mortality, memory, and the persistence of the past.

These poems often evoke a sense of melancholy, inviting readers to contemplate the boundaries between the seen and the unseen, the tangible and the ethereal. 

The House of Ghosts

by Margaret Widdemer

‘The House of Ghosts’ by Margaret Widdemer describes a speaker’s nightmare in which she fears not being remembered by her family members.

Widdemer's poem portrays the terrifying possibility of becoming a ghost, only to be unable to communicate with one's loved one who are still alive. By centering the perspective of the ghost, the poet superbly subverts the typical dynamic by implying that the ghost is somehow haunted by the living rather than the other way around.

The House of Ghosts was bright within,

Aglow and warm and gay,

A place my own once loved me in,

That is not there by day:

The Poor Ghost

by Christina Rossetti
Rossetti's poem shows great sensitivity to the ghostly woman as, if ghosts did exist, they would have every bit as much reason to be heartbroken as their living counterparts, as both of them would be cut off from those they love. The sympathetic portrayal of the ghostly woman is strengthened by the fact that her lover seems hesitant, perhaps implying his love for her was never as true as he had made it out to be.

‘Oh whence do you come, my dear friend, to me,

With your golden hair all fallen below your knee,

And your face as white as snowdrops on the lea,

And your voice as hollow as the hollow sea?’

Ghosts (Homage to Burial)

by Emily Berry
Emily Berry's poem focuses on our tendency to fixate of people and experiences that have been and gone. This desire to remember effectively functions as a means of sustaining some remnant of that person or event, so much so that it become a spectral figure in our lives. Berry cleverly examines the liminal boundary between memory and ghosts.

You can invest everything in someone. This one feeling chopping you up. Anyone can go into the night. I just want to be gone. I want to be unknown. There’s a storm coming.

A Rhyme for Halloween

by Maurice Kilwein Guevara

‘A Rhyme for Halloween’ by Maurice Kilwein Guevara captures the ethereal macabre essence of the holiday in a poem that is as captivating as it is haunting.

As a poem about Halloween, ghosts, of course, feature within it. Everything from the speaker's descriptions of themselves to the dead woman could be categorized as being ghostly in nature. The effect blurs the line between reality and the supernatural to the point that it becomes impossible to discern the dividing line between the two.

Tonight I light the candles of my eyes in the lee

And swing down this branch full of red leaves.

Yellow moon, skull and spine of the hare,

Arrow me to town on the neck of the air.

Mr. Flood’s Party

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

‘Mr. Flood’s Party’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson describes a man’s later years in life and how lonely he has become. It suggests that a long life is not always a blessing. 

Mr. Flood speaks to himself, or to ghosts of his past, throughout this poem.

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night

Over the hill between the town below

And the forsaken upland hermitage

That held as much as he should ever know

The Ghost

by Sara Teasdale

‘The Ghost’ by Sara Teasdale describes a speaker’s unwelcome experience after reuniting with two ex-lovers in a city she used to know. 

Rather than featuring the ghost of a deceased person, this poem suggests that we all carry ghosts of our former selves around with us, as we are constantly changing, meaning former versions of ourselves 'die' all the time. In particular, the poet implies that the ghost of old relationships can return to haunt our experience of the present even long after those relationships came to an end.

I went back to the clanging city,

I went back where my old loves stayed,

But my heart was full of my new love's glory,

My eyes were laughing and unafraid.

At My Grandmother’s

by David Malouf

‘At My Grandmother’s’ by David Malouf explores the haunting presence of the past and the interplay between memory, time, and mortality.

David Malouf's poem portrays ghosts as a haunting presence from the past. The grandmother's voice is said to call forth the ghosts of children from their gilded frames. These spectral figures represent the lingering memories and experiences of the past, looking out across the wreckage of time. The poem evokes a sense of the ethereal and enduring presence of the departed, creating a haunting and melancholic atmosphere.

An afternoon, late summer, in a room

Shuttered against the bright, envenomed leaves;

An under-water world, where time, like water

Was held in the wide arms of a gilded clock,

One need not be a Chamber to be Haunted

by Emily Dickinson

‘One need not be a Chamber to be Haunted’ by Emily Dickinson explores the nature of the human mind. She presents the reader with images of mental and physical threats and how they can be confronted.

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,

One need not be a house;

The brain has corridors surpassing

Material place.

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