When the clock hath ceased to tick
Soul-like in the gloomy hall;
When the latch no more doth click
Tongue-like in the red peach-wall;
When no more come sounds of play,
Mice nor children romping roam,
Then looks down the eye of day
On a dead house, not a home!
But when, like an old sun’s ghost,
Haunts her vault the spectral moon;
When earth’s margins all are lost,
Melting shapes nigh merged in swoon,
Then a sound—hark! there again!—
No, ’tis not a nibbling mouse!
‘Tis a ghost, unseen of men,
Walking through the bare-floored house!
And with lightning on the stair
To that silent upper room,
With the thunder-shaken air
Sudden gleaming into gloom,
With a frost-wind whistling round,
From the raging northern coasts,
Then, mid sieging light and sound,
All the house is live with ghosts!
Brother, is thy soul a cell
Empty save of glittering motes,
Where no live loves live and dwell,
Only notions, things, and thoughts?
Then thou wilt, when comes a Breath
Tempest-shaking ridge and post,
Find thyself alone with Death
In a house where walks no ghost.
© George MacDonald