Roderic Quinn

(1867 - 1949 / Australia)

The Threshold Stone

WHEN I went to live in the little house,
That stands on the hilltop alone,
What touched me most of all
Was neither roof nor wall,
But the smooth, worn face of its old threshold stone.
For when I entered that little house,
With its four rooms cool in the heat,
And its windows clean and bright,
There it lay, new-washed and white,
With its tale of the coming and the going of feet.
Then I lost count of time in that little house,
And the world and its things all about,
And I hearkened there, alone,
To the footfalls on that stone,
Of the young coming in and the old going out.
And the folk that had dwelt in that little house,
They were mute, spectre-mute, at my side —
The young man, strong and bold,
And the grey man, wise and old,
And the little, pinched woman and the new-made bride.
Oh, often in haste to that little house
Came love in the night-time alone,
And dallied there a while,
With a little, wistful smile,
And with feather-weight feet on the old threshold stone.
And men hurried home to that little house
When the round of the daytime was o'er
With its worry, heat and noise,
And kissed their girls and boys,
And the patient little mothers that waited at the door.
Though I dwell now no more in that little house
That stands on the hilltop alone,
Yet this I got from it —
This human story writ
On the smooth, worn face of its old threshold stone.
Though they take stone from stone in that little house,
Making litter of all it has been.
Yet they shall not destroy
All the grief, all the joy,
All the youth, all the love that its threshold has seen.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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