The shadows sit and stand about its door
Like uninvited guests and poor;
And all the long, hot summer day
The grating locust dins its roundelay
In one old sycamore.
The squirrel leaves upon its rotting roof,
In empty hulls, its tracks;
And in its clapboard cracks
The spider weaves a windy woof;
Its cells the mud-wasp packs.
The she-fox whelps upon its floor;
The owlet roosts above its door;
And where the musty mosses run,
The freckled snake basks in the sun.
The children of what fathers sleep
Beneath these melancholy pines?
The slow slugs crawl among their graves where creep
The doddered poison-vines.
The orchard, near the meadow deep,
Lifts up decrepit arms,
Gray-lichened in a withering heap.
No sap swells up to make it leap
As once in calms and storms;
No blossom lulls its age asleep;
Each breeze brings sad alarms.
Big, bell-round pears and apples, russet-red,
No maiden gathers now;
The worm-bored trunks weep gum, like tears, instead,
From each decaying bough.
The woodlands around it are solitary
And fold it like gaunt hands;
The sunlight is sad and the moonlight is dreary,
And the hum of the country is weary, so weary!
And the bees go by in bands
To other lovelier lands.
The grasses are rotting in walk and in bower;
The lonesomeness, dank and rank
As a chamber where lies for a lonely hour
An old-man's corpse with many a flower,
Is hushed and blank.
And even the birds have passed it by,
To sing their songs to a happier sky,
A happier sky and bank.
In its desolate halls are lying,
Gold, blood-red and browned,
Drifted leaves of summer dying;
And the winds, above them sighing,
Turn them round and round,
Make a ghostly sound
As of footsteps failing, flying,
Voices through the chambers crying,
Of the haunted house.
Gazing down in her white shroud,
Shroud of windy cloud,
Comes at night the phantom moon;
Comes and all the shadows soon,
Crowding in the rooms, arouse;
Shadows, ghosts, her rays lead on,
Till beneath the cloud
Like a ghost she's gone,
In her gusty shroud,
O'er the haunted house.