THE HOUSE WITH NOBODY IN IT
by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
- I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and
- I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop
for a minute
- And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody
- I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such
- That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
- I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
- For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.
- This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of
- And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to
- It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be
trimmed and tied;
- But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.
- If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
- I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
- I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
- And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to
- Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and
- Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block
in the store.
- But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and
- For the lack of something within it that it has never known.
- But a house that has done what a house should do, a house
that has sheltered life,
- That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his
- A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling
- Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your
eyes could meet.
- So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
- I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking
- Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters
- For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with
a broken heart.
POEMS BY JOYCE KILMER
"The House with Nobody in It"
was originally published in Trees and Other Poems. Joyce
Kilmer. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1914.