Elizabeth Bodien


All Souls’ Night


    –  After William Butler Yeats and May Sarton


This night the veil is thin. We sense the dread.

They gather, pour their voices into air –

intoxicating fervor of the dead.


“Listen,” one voice sounds. “Do not despair.

This realm is not all dreadful.  You could learn

from dead souls, essences of love, who care


for you the living.  We would rise from urn

and ash, address you as the gods did then,

when people heeded gods.  This night we burn


to utter words intended for your  pen.”

Another voice says, “Aim for nobler views.

This night at threshold lands of ghosts and men,


you seek the more uncanny things let loose,

then run away.  You’re drawn, repulsed, the thrill

of tempting your demise and so produce


the eerie sights, horrific sounds, the chill.”

The voice says, “Such effects are nothing.  Raise

your glass to spirit.  Ponder how the will,


the soul, desire to live in the next phase,

returning just this night by these gateways.”

Elizabeth Bodien grew up in the ‘burned-over’ district of western New York State, but she now lives near Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania, USA. Her early studies focused on cultural anthropology, consciousness studies, and the history and phenomenology of religion. She taught cultural anthropology and critical thinking until retiring in 2007 and entering the world of poetry. She has also worked as an instructor of English in Japan, an organic farmer in the mountains of Oregon, a certified childbirth instructor in West Africa, a calligrapher, graphic designer, and a certified Montessori teacher. Her poems have appeared in Ruah, Lilliput Review, red lights, The Litchfield Review, The Fourth River, Cimarron Review, Parabola, and Crannóg, among other publications in the United States, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and India. Her poems have won a number of prizes, and she has appeared on radio and television with her poetry. Her collections are the chapbooks: Plumb Lines (Plan B Press); Rough Terrain: Notes of an Undutiful Daughter (FootHills Publishing), about her mother’s decline with Alzheimer’s; and Endpapers (Finishing Line Press). Currently she is working on an original libretto, and a collection of her trance writings. You can find out more on her website at