It was a rainy Sunday night, the perfect atmosphere for Persimmons Literary Magazine’s annual Halloween Reading. The location was fitting, too. As I climbed up the Ascension Hall stairs, I was struck by how unnerved the gloomy building made me. Luckily, the Persimmons members waiting on the third floor had candy and company that made the night a treat, not a trick.
The members passed around Halloween candy before taking their seats and reading their pieces one by one. Nora Archer ’26 read the first piece, “Erlkönig” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in both the original German and an English translation. In the poem, a child is assailed by the supernatural king of elves and tempted by games and dancing. The child’s father, unable to see the elf king, is confused by his child’s questions about him. Eventually, the elf king kills the child and the father flees with only his son’s lifeless body.
Several other Persimmons members read a variety of spooky pieces, including two poems and a short story. My favorite moment was when Katie Turk ’25 read “The Stolen Child” by William Butler Yeats. Much like the first poem, it tells the story of a faery stealing away a human child. This one, though, is much more lyrical, and I loved the refrain “For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” It was a much more wistful poem and although the child is also tempted into leaving the human world, it doesn’t end with him explicitly dying.
Persimmons ended the evening by reading their traditional closer, “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, with each member taking a few stanzas. Though the final reading ended with the refrain “nevermore,” I can only hope this special Halloween tradition will continue evermore.