Always--I tell you this they learned--
Always at night when they returned
To the lonely house from far away
To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray,
They learned to rattle the lock and key
To give whatever might chance to be
Warning and time to be off in flight:
And preferring the out- to the in-door night,
They learned to leave the house-door wide
Until they had lit the lamp inside.
--Robert Frost (1874-1963)
I called to the wind,
"Who's there?"........Whoever it was
still knocks at my gate.
--Kyorai, trans by Harry Behn (1651-1704)
There is a grey thing that lives in the tree-tops
None know the horror of its sight
Save those who meet death in the wilderness
But one is enabled to see
To see branches move at its passing
To hear at times the wail of black laughter
And to come often upon mystic places
Places where the thing has just been.
--Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
Out of the strange
Still dusk...as strange, as still...
A white moth flew: why am I grown
--Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) (her form is the 'cinquain')
In my childhood in Beverly Hills California, where our storms tended toward fire and quake, Los Angeles poet Myra Cohn Livingston served as Artist in our schools. Her first lesson was to use our real eyes, rather than to "buy in" to other people's metaphors and similes. She liked to remind us that "snow" wasn't "winter" in Southern California. I knew that if I "saw" the leaves turning something other than crinkly-and-brown, I should get my eyes checked.
On the other hand, she would bring in brilliant objects and ask us to come up with lists...what are they? what are they to us metaphorically? We would take metaphor-hunting walks. We would find the telephone in the seashell, the moon "as the north wind's cookie." (That last is Vachel Lindsay, in case you were wondering.)
And she would read us poems, across time, across space, from a stream she knew where poetry was always happening inside itself. A famous children's poet, she didn't believe in talking down to children. Her anthologies still sit on my shelves, and are of interest to my 43 year old self.
Her anthologies for children (among her more than 90 books), always included international work, spanning six centuries or more. Here for Halloween are some selections from Why Am I Grown So Cold: Poems of the Unknowable (A Margaret K. McElderry Book, Athenaeum, 1982).