The House of Ghosts

Margaret Widdemer

The House of Ghosts was bright within,
     Aglow and warm and gay,
A place my own once loved me in,
     That is not there by day:

My hound lay drowsing on the floor:
     From sunken graves returned
My folk that I was lonely for
     Sat where the hearth-fire burned.

There was no lightest echo lost
     When I undid the door,
There was no shadow where I crossed
     The well-remembered floor.

I bent to whisper to my hound
     (So long he had been dead!)
He slept no lighter nor more sound,
     He did not lift his head.

I brushed my father as I came;
     He did not move or see—
I cried upon my mother’s name;
     She did not look at me.

Their faces in the firelight bent,
     They smiled in speaking slow
Of some old gracious merriment
     Forgotten years ago.

I was so changed since they had died!
     How could they know or guess
A voice that plead for love, and cried
     Of grief and loneliness?

Out from the House of Ghosts I fled
     Lest I should turn and see
The child I had been lift her head
     And stare aghast at me!

More by Margaret Widdemer

To a Young Girl at a Window

The Poor Old Soul plods down the street,
        Contented, and forgetting
How Youth was wild, and Spring was wild
        And how her life is setting;

And you lean out to watch her there,
        And pity, nor remember,
That Youth is hard, and Life is hard,
        And quiet is December. 

If You Should Tire of Loving Me

If you should tire of loving me
Some one of our far days,
Oh, never start to hide your heart
Or cover thought with praise.

For every word you would not say
Be sure my heart has heard,
So go from me all silently
Without a kiss or word;

For God must give you happiness…
And oh, it may befall
In listening long to Heaven-song
I may not care at all!

Old Wine

If I could lift
    My heart but high enough
    My heart could fill with love:

But ah, my heart
    Too still and heavy stays
    Too brimming with old days.