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All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide, With feet that make no sound upon

the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,

Along the passages they come and go, Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table, than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear; He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,

And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere Wafts through these earthly mists and vapors


A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise

By opposite attractions and desires ; The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires.

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These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants and aspirations high, Come from the influence of an unseen star,

An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud

Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light, Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night,

So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this, O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.


In the village churchyard she lies,
Dust is in her beautiful

No more she breathes, nor feels, nor stirs;

At her feet and at her head

Lies a slave to attend the dead,

But their dust is white as hers.

Was she a lady of high degree,
So much in love with the vanity

And foolish pomp of this world of ours ?
Or was it Christian charity,
And lowliness and humility,

The richest and rarest of all dowers ?


Who shall tell us ? No one speaks ;
No color shoots into those cheeks,

Either of anger or of pride,
At the rude question we have asked ;
Nor will the mystery be unmasked

By those who are sleeping at her side.

Hereafter ?-And do you think to look
On the terrible pages of that Book

To find her failings, faults, and errors ?
Ah, you will then have other cares,
In your own short-comings and despairs,

In your own secret sins and terrors !

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