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“Shadowheart” (a Halloween Poem) and Some Halloween History

John loves to read, especially crime, fantasy, psychological thriller, and sci-fi novels. He is interested in the paranormal and unexplained

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

"Shadowheart" by John Hansen

When darkness falls on All Hallows' Eve
The demons lurk in wait.
You must stay wary; do not sleep,
For the morning comes too late.

Most monsters are in costume
And really not a threat,
Unless you fail to give them treats,
Then you’ll gain their ire, I bet.

Jack o’ Lanterns with each eerie face
Lit by candle glow
Adorn the windows and the porch
To let the spirits know.

But in the shadows lurks a fiend
Like none you’ve seen before.
He’ll strike when least expected;
You won’t know what’s in store.

Beware when black cats cross your path,
Or bats give you a start,
And lock your doors and windows
To escape the Shadowheart.

In fact, the dark keeps him at bay;
It’s the light that gives him life.
For he exists in your own shadow
And will slice you with his knife.

So keep watch on your shadow,
Don’t ever turn your back,
Or you’ll be little pieces
In the Shadowheart’s deep sack.

Of course, you can avoid him—
Do everything at night
Under the cloak of darkness—
Just keep out of the light.

A Short History of Halloween

Halloween or Hallowe'en, also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in many countries on 31st October, the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time of year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs and all the faithful departed.

Trick-or-treating partly comes from the medieval English practice of “souling,” which involved poor people going from door to door offering prayers for All Souls Day in exchange for food. This practice is referred to by Shakespeare in the play The Two Gentlemen of Verona with the line, “like a beggar at Hallowmas.”

Another occasion that often merges with Halloween and the related festivals is Guy Fawkes Day in the UK, which celebrates the failure of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on 5th November 1605. Traditionally, bonfires are lit and dummies of Guy Fawkes are burned.

In the US, Halloween is closely tied to Thanksgiving, the changing of the seasons, the harvest and pagan traditions. It also used to be believed that 1st November was the beginning of the year, and Halloween was celebrated to chase away all the bad spirits from the previous year to ensure a successful new one.

Is Halloween celebrated in Australia?

Is Halloween celebrated in Australia?

Halloween in Australia

Until recently, Halloween activities and events were held only on only a small scale in Australia, but recently, the holiday has become more popular across the country due to the many popular movies and TV shows depicting the event. As a youngster, I always envied children in the USA and other countries who had so much fun dressing up as monsters and trick-or-treating when we could only watch longingly on TV.

Even though Halloween is not a nationwide public holiday in Australia, its observance is becoming a growing trend. Stores are stocking up on costumes and accessories, and some businesses coordinate Halloween-themed gatherings for staff and clients. Charity organizations may have fundraising activities that centre on the Halloween theme.

Sometimes, Halloween parties are held at venues that are supposedly haunted. Ghost tours, hunts and walks are popular during this time of the year. More Australians are also taking part in trick-or-treat adventures that involve organized groups of parents and children visiting neighbours.

How do you celebrate Halloween?

How do you celebrate Halloween?

Off The Shelf: Shadowheart by James Barclay

For those of you who are unaware, Off the Shelf is the name I gave my series of, mainly, poetry that uses the titles of novels on my bookshelf at home as inspiration. The poem that is written rarely echoes the story or even the theme of the book. In this case, I chose the book "Shadowheart' and it is no exception.

James Barclay is one of the leading authors in the Pulp Fantasy genre. He has written two linked trilogies introducing a popular hero, The Raven. The first trilogy was the Chronicles of The Raven and introduced the main characters and the world of Balaia.

'Elfsorrow' is the first book in the second trilogy, The Legends of The Raven. This was written as an introduction for new readers, and made it unnecessary to have read the first trilogy.

Shadowheart is the second book in The Legend of the Raven trilogy, and in it a savage war is raging as the magical colleges of Balaia tear the world apart in their struggle for supremacy. Can The Raven even survive, let alone triumph, as he threatens to destroy their existence and everything they have known?

I don't recommend reading this without at least having read 'Elfsorrow' first. This is a fantasy and the strange names and goings-on would be very hard to digest if you don't already know some background.

James Barclay, unlike most successful authors, has never been frightened to kill off his favourite characters, and this has given his books their unique edge. The reader never knows whether the hero will succeed in his quest or die trying.

Shadowheart by James Barclay

Shadowheart by James Barclay

© 2020 John Hansen

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