This page may contain affiliate links, for which we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps support Love Letters to Poe.
She wends her way around her walk, And round and round she goes– She does not speak, she does not talk, As she wends her way around her walk, And round and round she goes, She goes, And round and round she goes.
Her husband’s dead, her husband’s gone He died, alack the day! They will not let her into town, They built a walk for her to round, Because he’s gone away, Away, Because he’s gone away.
The widow wends her way around, Round and round her home. The children watch her as they play, They make up stories every day ‘Bout the witch who eats their bones, Their bones, She eats young children’s bones.
Her husband does not know he’s dead: He follows round and round. He whispers nothings in her ear, He does not know she cannot hear, He’s buried in the ground, The ground, He’s buried underground.
The widow wanders round and round ‘Neath pale Hecate’s moon. She conjures spirits in the dark, Up on her walk above the park, In the night’s dark inky gloom, Its gloom, In the night’s dark inky gloom.
Are any of these stories true? Forsooth, we cannot say. We can’t by any magic art, Devine what’s in her secret heart, Her mind we can’t assay, Assay, Her mind we can’t assay.
But still we all do dream of her Each and every night. She sends us nightmares while we sleep, Demons conjured from the deep, In the moon’s faint pale light, Its light, In the moon’s faint pale light.
She wends her way around her walk And round and round she goes– She does not speak, she does not talk, As she wends her way around her walk, And round and round she goes, She goes, And round and round she goes.
Interview with A.A. Rubin, Author of “The Widow’s Walk”
What inspired your story?
When I first moved to Long Island, I was struck by the architecture of the old Victorian houses that are prevalent on the North Shore. These houses often feature a railed terrace on the roof, which, I found out, was called a “widow’s walk.” Whaling was the dominant industry when these houses were built, and the terraces allowed women whose husbands were away at sea to watch for returning ships. Since the sea was dangerous, many did not return, and these women became widows. Although this is the common—and, likely, historically accurate explanation, I came across many others as well. One that’s definitely apocryphal is that widows were not allowed into town unaccompanied—even to go to church—in certain religious 19th century communities. The walks, the story goes, allowed them to get some fresh air and exercise, even if they could just go around and around. Although this explanation is not historically accurate, it stuck in my mind. That story, along with the gothic architecture of many of these Victorian homes led me to write a gothic poem about a widow, her walk, and her rumored magical powers.
What’s your favorite gothic story or poem and why?
I am a big fan of the Romantic poets, especially when they decide to go gothic. Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Poe’s The Bellsand Annabelle Lee, and even Browning’s Prophryria’s Lover (though he’s not always grouped in with the same set). There’s something about the meter of poetry that enhances the magic of a supernatural narrative for me, almost like an incantation or a spell.
I am also a fan of the classic English Romantic novels like Wuthering Heights, Dracula,Frankenstein. I think what draws me to the Romantics is the way they address the theme of love vs security. Much like during the 19th century, today’s society tries to push us toward the security answer. I like that the Romantics challenge that, and like them, I am on the side of love.
Do you have a theme you return to time and again?
I write across many genres and mediums, from literary fiction to comics, formal rhyming poetry to satire, and almost everything in between. As such, I deal with many subjects and themes. But, if there’s something I find myself returning to time and again, it’s a conversation with the classics. There is a distinct retro feel to much of my writing, and I often find myself re-examining past forms. Sometimes my pieces are ironic or satirical engagements with the past, and sometimes they are love letters to older forms that may have either fallen out of fashion or that seem particularly relevant to something I see in the world today. “The Widow’s Walk” is definitely a love letter to Poe, my take on his classic Romantic style.
Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes—Walt Whitman.
One of my least favorite pieces of writing advice is that writers should focus on one style or genre for the sake of their “brand.” As someone who writes in many styles, mediums, and genre’s, I appreciate Whitman’s willingness to contradict himself. Whitman wrote a temperance novel before he became a serious poet. Imagine if he had decided to stick with that genre for the sake of his brand (he probably would have been advised to do so if he was writing today). He may have been an obscure novelist rather than, arguably, the greatest poet in American history. As someone who writes everything from formal rhyming poetry to comics, fantasy and science fiction, to literary fiction, I, too, may often seem like I’m contradicting myself. I often return to this quote for inspiration.
What are you working on now?
I am always working on many projects. I hope to finish my fantasy novel by the end of the year; I am working on a Sherlock Holmes/Quantum physics story that may become either a novella or a novel (it’s too early to tell); I am nearly done with my first poetry chapbook (a series of gothic poems); I am working with an artist on an illustrated epic poem about a secret society of unicorns; and I will be writing and editing for the second annual Comic Book School Anthology. I will also continue to work on my short stories and poems in between the other projects.
What else would you like people to know? Where can people find you online?
I encourage people to follow me on social media to keep track of my latest exploits. I am @TheSurrealAri on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also follow my blog, where I write about literature, writing, and geek culture, with the occasional humor piece thrown in at aarubin.wordpress.com. The website also has a page to contact me, as well as links to my Amazon page and other published works.