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A Threefold Cord
by [?]


Poems by Three Friends.

TO

GREVILLE MATHESON MACDONALD.

First, most, to thee, my son, I give this book
In which a friend’s and brother’s verses blend
With mine; for not son only–brother, friend,
Art thou, through sonship which no veil can brook
Between the eyes that in each other look,
Or any shadow ‘twixt the hearts that tend
Still nearer, with divine approach, to end
In love eternal that cannot be shook
When all the shakable shall cease to be.
With growing hope I greet the coming day
When from thy journey done I welcome thee
Who sharest in the names of all the three,
And take thee to the two, and humbly say,
Let this man be the fourth with us, I pray.

CASA CORAGGIO:
May, 1883.

A THREEFOLD CHORD.

THE HAUNTED HOUSE:

Suggested by a drawing of Thomas Moran, the American painter.

This must be the very night!
The moon knows it!–and the trees!
They stand straight upright,
Each a sentinel drawn up,
As if they dared not know
Which way the wind might blow!
The very pool, with dead gray eye,
Dully expectant, feels it nigh,
And begins to curdle and freeze!
And the dark night,
With its fringe of light,
Holds the secret in its cup!

II. What can it be, to make
The poplars cease to shiver and shake,
And up in the dismal air
Stand straight and stiff as the human hair
When the human soul is dizzy with dread–
All but those two that strain
Aside in a frenzy of speechless pain,
Though never a wind sends out a breath
To tunnel the foggy rheum of death?
What can it be has power to scare
The full-grown moon to the idiot stare
Of a blasted eye in the midnight air?
Something has gone wrong;
A scream will come tearing out ere long!

III. Still as death,
Although I listen with bated breath!
Yet something is coming, I know–is coming!
With an inward soundless humming
Somewhere in me, or if in the air
I cannot tell, but it is there!
Marching on to an unheard drumming
Something is coming–coming–
Growing and coming!
And the moon is aware,
Aghast in the air
At the thing that is only coming
With an inward soundless humming
And an unheard spectral drumming!

IV. Nothing to see and nothing to hear!
Only across the inner sky
The wing of a shadowy thought flits by,
Vague and featureless, faceless, drear–
Only a thinness to catch the eye:
Is it a dim foreboding unborn,
Or a buried memory, wasted and worn
As the fading frost of a wintry sigh?
Anon I shall have it!–anon!–it draws nigh!
A night when–a something it was took place
That drove the blood from that scared moon-face!
Hark! was that the cry of a goat,
Or the gurgle of water in a throat?
Hush! there is nothing to see or hear,
Only a silent something is near;
No knock, no footsteps three or four,
Only a presence outside the door!
See! the moon is remembering!–what?
The wail of a mother-left, lie-alone brat?
Or a raven sharpening its beak to peck?
Or a cold blue knife and a warm white neck?
Or only a heart that burst and ceased
For a man that went away released?
I know not–know not, but something is coming
Somehow back with an inward humming!

V. Ha! look there! look at that house,
Forsaken of all things, beetle and mouse!
Mark how it looks! It must have a soul!
It looks, it looks, though it cannot stir!
See the ribs of it, how they stare!
Its blind eyes yet have a seeing air!
It knows it has a soul!
Haggard it hangs o’er the slimy pool,
And gapes wide open as corpses gape:
It is the very murderer!
The ghost has modelled himself to the shape
Of this drear house all sodden with woe
Where the deed was done, long, long ago,
And filled with himself his new body full–
To haunt for ever his ghastly crime,
And see it come and go–
Brooding around it like motionless time,
With a mouth that gapes, and eyes that yawn
Blear and blintering and full of the moon,
Like one aghast at a hellish dawn!–
The deed! the deed! it is coming soon!