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The House by the Marsh

ISSUE:  Autumn 1929

No there is never anybody there,
Only a battered memory in its face Remains like wisdom in a platitude,
Hardly worth while to trace.
Yet on one night of highest altitude Canopus always comes to satisfy Himself with watchdog stare And bloodshot eye That there is never anybody there.
It seems—perhaps—they might come back again,
Who left this grim house staring at the marsh,
Listening to sucking tides day after day;
Listening to clucking marsh hens and the harsh,
Drear wind of autumn—or the calm Drone of the trade wind, and the psalm Of moonlight ripples on the fen—
It seems as if they must come back again.
What more than pain would their lost ecstasies Now be to them if exiled from this ground 1 Who left behind mysterious memories And open doors in rooms without a sound.
Here they lay breast to breast and skull to skull,
Striving to prove the garments of their bones Were not so dead, and not so very dull.
Will they now stay in bed all night with stones? Whether they come or not I cannot say— There is a sunken grave.
Someone is waiting till I go away,
Meanwhile the shadows wave—
Like mouths of nothing in this solitude,
The moon of dry hydrangeas makes old lace;
The old house weathers in one attitude,
The fretwork staggering across its face.
And this, the night of his high altitude,
That star will climb the zodiacal stair To satisfy himself with bloodshot eye For one short hour in the southern sky That there is never anybody there.


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