The Old Home

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

They've torn the old house down, that stood,
Like some kind mother, in this place,
Hugged by its orchard and its wood,
Two sturdy children, strong of race.

This formal place makes no appeal.
I miss the old time happiness
And peace, which often here did heal
The cares of life, the heart's distress.

The shrubs, which snowed their blossoms on
The walks, wide-stretching from the doors
Like friendly arms, are dead and gone,
And over all a grand house soars.

Within its front no welcome lies,
But pride's aloofness; wealth, that stares
From windows, cold as haughty eyes,
The arrogance of new-made heirs.

Its very flowers breathe of cast;
And even the Springtide seems estranged,
In that stiff garden, caught, held fast,
All her wild beauty clipped and changed.

'T is not the Spring, that once I knew,
Who made a glory of her face,
And robed in shimmering light and dew
Moved to wild music in this place.

How fair she walked here with her Hours,
Pouring forth colors and perfumes,
And with her bosom heaped with flowers
Climbed by the rose-vines to its rooms.

Or round the old porch, 'mid the trees,
Fluttered a flute of bluebird-song;
Or murmuring with a myriad bees
Drowsed in the garden all day long.

How Summer, with her apron full
Of manna, shook the red peach down;
Or, stretched among the shadows cool,
Wove for her hair a daisy crown.

Or with her crickets, night and day,
Gossiped of many a faery thing,
Her sweet breath warm with scents of hay
And honey, purple-blossoming.

How Autumn, trailing tattered gold
And scarlet, in the orchard mused,
And of the old trees taking hold
Upon the sward their ripeness bruised.

Or, past its sunset window-panes,
Like thoughts that drift before old eyes,
Whirled red leaves and the ragged rains,
And crows, black-blown, about the skies.

How Winter, huddled in her hood
Of snow and sleet, crouched by its flues;
Or, rushing from the stormy wood,
Rapped at its doors with windy news.

Or in the firelight, through the pane,
Watched Comfort crown with cheer the hearth,
Or Love lead in his Yuletide train
Of hospitality and mirth. . . .

It lived. The house was part of us.
It was not merely wood and stone,
But had a soul, a heart, that thus
Grappled and made us all its own.

The lives that with its life were knit,
In some strange way, beyond the sense,
Had gradually given to it
A look of old experience.

A look, which I shall not forget,
No matter where my ways may roam.
I close my eyes: I see it yet
The old house that was once my home.

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