The story goes like this: a scary representative of The Terrifying Underworld comes to my house with a proposition — If I offer her something delicious to eat, she won’t abuse me or my property.  The choice is mine, of course. But what is a tasty treat compared to unknown perils to body and soul? I immediately offer the most tasty treat I can find. Bingo. The scary ghoul smiles and trots off. My sudden, unexplained exposure to bodily harm, and injury to my happy home, are diverted.

The Halloween drama at its best sees transition from simplicities of infancy when nothing beyond “me” is comprehensible, to reciprocal behavior. The poem by Emily Dickinson, “We talked as Girls do — ” pictures the ideology of childhood and its subsequent possibility of simple morality.

Like the adult in the Halloween myth, I feel dangled at the end of the poem thinking “is that all there is?”  

We talked as Girls do — 

Fond, and late — 

We speculated fair, on every subject, but the Grave — 

Of our’s, none affair — 

We handled Destinies, as cool — 

As we —  Disposers — be — 

And God, a Quiet Party

To our authority — 

But fondest, dwelt opon Ourself

As we eventual — be — 

When Girls, to Women, softly raised

We — occupy — Degree — 

We parted with a contract

To cherish, and to write

But Heaven made both, impossible

Before another night.

I can so be there: Halloween night slumber parties “Fond, and late — /We speculated fair, on every subject, but the Grave — ”, when blossoming preadolescent friendships were supercharged by the sheer pumped numbers of us. We were barely beyond being children who take on the identity of ghosts, goblins and monsters, allowed to speculate on control of the destiny of the adult world. “We handled Destinies, as cool — ”: everything short of death is within our authority.

It is a journey of the young who “dwelt opon Ourself” while we were “softly raised”. The childish, fragile confidence that says, “We parted with a contract/To cherish, and to write” mimics the little goblins’ satisfaction with that simple doorstep transaction. 

Though “Heaven made both, impossible” in the long run, it is a moralistic conclusion with its cynicism intact. The question remaining is “who will become only moralistic?” And who among the goblins will develop insightful, ethical ways of life?

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way