Elizabeth Stoddard



The House By The Sea

by Elizabeth Stoddard

Tonight I do the bidding of a ghost,
A ghost that knows my misery;
In the lone dark I hear his wailing boast,
Now shalt thou speak with me.

Must I go back where all is desolate,
Where reigns the terror of a curse,
To knock, a beggar, at my father's gate,
That closed upon a hearse?

The old stone pier has crumbled in the sea;
The tide flows through the garden wall;
Where grew the lily, and where hummed the bee,
Black seaweeds rise and fall.

I see the empty nests beneath the eaves;
No bird is near; the vines have died;
The orchard trees have lost the joy of leaves,
The oaks their lordly pride.

Of what avail to set ajar the door
Through which, when ruin fell, I fled?
If on the threshold I should stand once more,
Shall I behold the dead?

Shall I behold, as on that fatal night,
My mother from the window start
When she was blasted by the evil sight, --
The shame that broke her heart?

The yellow grass grows on my sister's grave;
Her room is dark -- she is not there;
I feel the rain, and hear the wild wind rave --
My tears, and my despair.

A white-haired man is singing a sad song
Amid the ashes on the hearth;
Ashes to ashes, I have moaned so long
I am alone on earth.

No more! no more! I cannot bear this pain;
Shut the foul annals of my race;
Accursed the hand that opens them again,
My dowry of disgrace.

And so, farewell, thou bitter, bitter ghost!
When morning comes the shadows fly;
Before we part, I give this merry toast, --
The dead that do not die!


Copyright 1895
Houghton, Mifflin And Company, Boston And New York