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The Lodger
by [?]

I cannot quite recall
When first he came,
So reticent and tall,
With his eyes of flame.

The neighbors used to say
(They know so much!)
He looked to them half way
Spanish or Dutch.

Outlandish certainly
He is–and queer!
He has been lodged with me
This thirty year;

All the while (it seems absurd!)
We hardly have
Exchanged a single word.
Mum as the grave!

Minds only his own affairs,
Goes out and in,
And keeps himself upstairs
With his violin.

Mum did I say? And yet
That talking smile
You never can forget,
Is all the while

Full of such sweet reproofs
The darkest day,
Like morning on the roofs
In flush of May.

Like autumn on the hills;
At four o’clock
The sun like a herdsman spills
For drove and flock

Peace with their provender,
And they are fed.
The day without a stir
Lies warm and red.

Ah, sir, the summer land
For me! That is
Like living in God’s hand,
Compared to this.

His smile so quiet and deep
Reminds me of it.
I see it in my sleep,
And so I love it.

An anarchist, say some;
But tush, say I,
When a man’s heart is plumb,
Can his life be awry?

Better than charity
And bigger too,
That heart. You’ve seen the sea?
Of course. To you

‘T is common enough, no doubt.
But here in town,
With God’s world all shut out,
Save the leaden frown

Of the sky, a slant of rain,
And a straggling star,
Such memories remain
The wonders they are.

Once at the Isles of Shoals,
And it was June . . .
Now hear me dote! He strolls
Across my noon,

Like the sun that day, where sleeps
My soul; his gaze
Goes glimmering down my deeps
Of yesterdays,

Searching and searching, till
Its light consumes
The reluctant shapes that fill
Those purple glooms.

Let others applaud, defame,
And the noise die down;
His voice saying your name,
Is enough renown.

Too patient pitiful,
Too fierce at wrong,
To patronize the dull,
Or praise the strong.

And yet he has a soul
Of wrath, though pent
Even when that white ghoul
Comes for his rent.

The landlord? Hush! My God!
I think the walls
Take notes to help him prod
Us up. He galls

My very soul to strife,
With his death’s-head face.
He is foul too in his life,
Some hid disgrace,

Some secret thing he does,
I warrant you,
For all his cheek to us
Is shaved so blue.

He takes good care (by the shade
Of seven wives!)
That the undertaker’s trade
He lives by thrives.

Nor chick nor child has he.
So servile smug,
With that cringe in his knee,–
God curse his lug!

But him, you should have seen
Him yesterday;
The landlord’s smirk turned green
At his smile. The way

He served that bloodless fish,
Were like to freeze him.
But meeting elsewhere, pish!
He never sees him.

Yet such a gentleman,
So sure and slow.
The vilest harridan
Is not too low,

If there is pity’s need;
And no man born,
For cruelty or greed
Escapes that scorn.

Most of all things, it seems,
He loves the town.
Watching the bright-faced streams
Go up and down,

I have surprised him often
On Tremont street,
And marked the grave face soften,
The mouth grow sweet,

In a brown study over
The men and women.
An unsuspected rover
That, for our Common.