A Touch of Darkness
Edited by David M

Unsettling images and noises have been commonplace for me throughout my life. These dark images accompanied my sister, her friends, and some of mine, who were gothic. I have seen completely black rooms filled with incense from recent spells cast and dolls hanging from ceilings by their necks. I have borne witness to horrible images and unspeakable stories, all of which have shaped me into the person I am today.

The grim, sadistic, and evil nature of some poetry has affected my life in the same manner. I have heard poems of hopes, fortunes and loves lost, and also of torture, hate, and lies. My sister, Sarah, has always loved literature, especially poetry; however, most of the general beauty of poetry is lost in works that I have discovered through her. Whatever she has written or found, she reads aloud to me with a serious face, as if what she is reading is the absolute truth. It’s frequently dictated with incredible amounts of feeling, but at the same time she seems empty, or (to quote Edgar Allen Poe) her "eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming." Her poetry helped me find a better, more sinister part of who I am.

I have attempted over the years to find purpose in all kinds of poetry, those about happiness, spring, and joy, but only poems of sheer evil have been able to display their true meanings to me. If a poem is not sinister, then it seems too outlandish to me to comprehend. I have always felt that poetry is an explosion of emotions, but these emotions are best used to describe what is wrong and immoral. Indeed, poetry is a compilation of all that pains us in a burst of agonizing emotions. Poetry often seems to be a summary of evil and quotes from the devil. It also appears to describe losses and misfortunes, and the agony one receives as a result. Its imagery can carry you away to a world of darkness, which you believed unimaginable, or describe the pitiful destruction of empires. It is frequently grim with an intent to strike horror or fear into its mortal foes. Poetry exposes one's weaknesses and uncovers one's fears by describing how one has been tormented and haunted.

Poetry is necessary, though. It brings out horrors that cannot be contained by one person alone. It allows us to be descriptive and uncensored, so that we will not have to suffer every dark, horrifying image that we imagine alone. Poetry brings us together, so that we need not cower from fear in solitude.

Very few famous poets share my views on poetry, but most have at least one poem that  reveals their true selves and fears, and reflects a hint of darkness or misfortune. This can be witnessed in James Shirley’s poem "Death the Leveler".

THE glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against Fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and Crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crookèd scythe and spade.
In this poem Shirley describes the inevitable end of kingdoms. He also uses words, such as blood, shadows, death, icy, dust, and scythe which are all symbols of pain or decay, to emphasize that he is not writing upbeat poetry. He does not generally compose in this fashion, but everyone has some darkness inside them that they cannot keep to themselves.

All of the poems in my anthology are related in the style in which they were written. They all use images to provoke feelings of discomfort or even psychological pain. "Purple", "Icy", "Blood", "Cold", "Hell", "The Plague", "Perish", and "Scourged" are all images by which these poets convey a sense of death. Even if death is not explicitly stated, it is a part of every poem in this compendium. I believe that rhymes portray a sort of serenity in their euphony. These enjoyable sounds make the poem appear upbeat and pleasant leaving the reader unprepared for the evil poetry that awaits them, which in turn makes the poem darker by deceiving the reader. This deceptive style of poetry is the root of making the poetry dark.

The poems have been arranged in such a way that the greatest amount of fear can be embedded in one’s mind as they read. This collection of works begins with poems relating to death and dying so as to describe what death can do and what it is to different poets. "Ode to the Noodle," a seemingly harmless sounding poem on the outside, begins a segment of the anthology with poems having to do with pain and murder. The compilation then changes to a less gruesome but much more terrifying type of poetry because the poems "The Raven" and "The Dread Voyage" not only allow the reader to cringe with fear, but also to imagine the unspeakable horrors that await the reader later in the poem. The anthology ends with two poems, which fit together in a twisted manner, as latter tells the fate of the former. I conclude that it tells what will become of the character in Invictus after he is gone. I predict that you will be overwhelmed by these dark poems and will be able to share the fears of these poets.
"Death the Leveler" James Shirley
"In Time of Pestilence" Thomas Nash
"Death" Thomas Hood
"Death" John Donne
"The Sting of Death" Frederick George Scott
"Ode to the Noodle" Andrea Cohen
"A Poison Tree" William Blake
"The Raven" Edgar Allen Poe
"Lucifer in Starlight" George Meredith
"The Dread Voyage" William Wilfred Campbell
"Invictus" William Ernest Henley
"Ozymandias" Percy Bysshe Shelley