Sound And Sights

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


Often, when I wake at night,
I can hear the strangest sounds,
Stealthy noises, left and right,
As of some one going his rounds:
On the stairs there comes a crack
As if some one mounted there;
Then the door creaks; and the back
Settles of the rocking-chair,
As if some one had sat down.
Then I get up in my gown;
Run to mother; hide my head;
Snuggle down by her in bed.
And she says to me, "My dear,
There is nothing here to fear:
All the noises that you hear
Are the old house and the weather,
Dry old weather,
Having a little talk together.
You just heard the old house stretching,
Waking up to have a chat:
Seems to me that it is catching.
Don't wake up again for that."


And again I wake at night,
And can see the queerest things:
In the gas-jet's lowered light,
The tall mantle with its rings
And its mirror seems a face
With a monster eye and nose
And a mouth, the fireplace,
Making faces at me. Those
Chairs against the wall move out,
Limping, as if lame with gout:
And I'm scared as scared can be,
Call, till father comes to me.
And he says, "There's nothing there;
Nothing that could hurt or scare.
And that mantle and that chair
Guess that they were only courting,
Queerly courting,
While the other was cavorting.
You just saw what these were thinking;
Longing there to hug and kiss:
Seems to me you caught them winking.
But don't wake again for this."

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