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Sunday, March 3, 2013

The House With Nobody In It


click to enlarge

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

~ The House with Nobody In It : Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

16 comments:

Deb said...

We have one of those in our town. If walls could only talk..

Country Gal said...

Lovely poem and photo ! Poor old house ! Just imagine if it could talk the history and story it would tell ! Thanks for sharing . Have a good evening !

Sarah Kim said...

absolutely amazing poem.

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

I'd never heard his poem that expresses so well my feelings for elder empty houses. Thanks so much for sharing it with your poignant photo!

DJan said...

Wonderful picture and a very wonderful poem. Thank you, Jo! :-)

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Thank you for the Kilmer poem; I'd never seen it before. I, too, lament the loss of an old home, especially when their ruin is unnecessary. Yes, they do cost more to heat and maintain, but they also offer history, continuity, and stability. Says one who lives surrounded by 130-year-old houses.

Melody said...

Old houses, especially those left alone to crumble away always touch my soul. I've often said if I had unlimited money, I would gather them up and save them all ~ gently restored to their former selves; and make my own little village. The only street thru my village would be called Memory Lane. Old HOuses need someone to love them and to listen for whispers from their past. :))) Great poem.

Melody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Ann said...

Lovely! It hurts me to see old houses, too.

rusty duck said...

So sad to see a lovely looking house standing empty.

Star said...

What a shame to be so neglected. Please someone come and fix it up!

Bernideen said...

These are all over the south.
There are some on the highway where I turn at my parents in
Virginia. Rotted wood - at a certain point it is better to start over than fix!

richies said...

I'm always fascinated by old buildings and wonder about the stories they could tell. I liked the poem.
An Arkies Musings

Terry said...

I remember old empty farm houses in rural Maryland. I always wondered how they came to be in such sad shape.

Willow said...

I love this poem, and adore old farm houses with character . Our old farm house has character, luckily it also has a family to love it :)

Flat Creek Farm said...

Beautiful, and I love the poem too. Sad.. but beautiful! -Tammy