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Things Worth Remembering: The Delights and Frights of Halloween

A Thomas Hardy poem still brings chills to the spine more than a century after its publication.

Welcome back to Douglas Murray’s Sunday column, Things Worth Remembering, where he presents passages from great poets he has committed to memory—and explains why you should, too. To listen to Douglas read Thomas Hardy’s “The Choirmaster’s Burial,” click below:

I was brought up to be very anti-Halloween. It is a prejudice that stays with me still.

That isn’t to say that as children we didn’t have fun trick-or-treating, traveling to carefully vetted neighbors’ homes and trying to spook them into giving us candy. But the festival was not celebrated that widely in the Britain of my upbringing. It still isn’t. And the huge celebration of the holiday in the U.S. comes as something of a surprise to most outsiders.

Some critics like me will say it’s a purely commercial thing, buoying up the markets and shops in the period before Thanksgiving and Christmas. But that isn’t enough of an explanation. Americans genuinely seem to love decorating their houses with spooky objects, carving pumpkins, and all the rest of it. And good for them, I say.

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