The Deserted House

by Dorothy Wellesley

Dorothy Wellesley

Knowing the house deserted, amid the darkness of trees,
That seemed to my memories
Flat as vernal scenery upon a stage,
Greatly daring I came to the house again;
Came straight, for I knew its intimacies;
Broke through bracken and wood to the tower with the
Came to visit the place I thought not to visit again.

And knowing the secret ways between tree and tree,
I came through undergrowth to the falling folly once more,
Where we played together, my brother and I, and he
Who died by his own hand, another brother to me.
But the folly had gone; and down I kneeled on the floor
That remained, a great slab of stone, the tombstone of three.

And the ghosts rose up: children who trotted beside
Me, a child again. But alone I had not died.

And that time I feared the deserted house, and the brake,
The trees and the glades of the wood,
I feared the forsaken garden,
For none of the living were there, and another ghost,
He who gave me life (and his spirit I feared the most),
Walked, silent, forever alone, alongside the lake,
Whom no living woman had understood.

And I came yet a second time to that house and garden,
With the one whom I love, saying: "Come, let us enter the
That I feared so before to do."
And we climbed by a window and stood
On the old blank landing I knew,
Where, a child, on the stairway to bed,
In a corner I huddled alone to look at the stars,
Where first the awe and the fear of infinity took me.
We went up the hollow stairs and after us followed the dead.
In the empty nursery I cried: "There, there, was the bed,
Where she beat me and shook me,
When I cried with terror at night.''

Then the one whom I love
Held me long on that spot, held me deep,
Murmuring: "Here is the healing,
Here is the answer, the pardon."
Since when I play with the ghosts in the house and the garden
In dreams,
When asleep.

Last updated September 13, 2017