William Stanley Braithwaite

(1872-1962 / United States)

The House Of Falling Leaves - Poem by William Stanley Braithwaite

I

OFF our New England coast the sea to-night
Is moaning the full sorrow of its heart:
There is no will to comfort it apart
Since moon and stars are hidden from its sight.
And out beyond the furthest harbor-light
There runs a tide that marks not any chart
Wherewith man knows the ending and the start
Of that long voyage in the infinite.

If change and fate and hapless circumstance
May baffle and perplex the moaning sea,
And day and night in alternate advance
Still hold the primal Reasoning in fee,
Cannot my Grief be strong enough to chance
My voice across the tide I cannot see?

II

We go from house to house, from town to town,
And fill the distance full of smiles and words;
We take all pleasure that our strength affords
And care not if the sun be up or down.
The way of it no man has ever known ---
But suddenly there is a snap of chords
Within the heart that sounds like hollow boards,---
We question every shadow that is thrown.

O to be near when the last word is said!
And see the last reflection in the eye ---
For when the word is brought our friend is dead,
How bitter is the tear that will not dry,
Because so far away our steps are led
When Love should draw us close to say Good-bye!

Ill

Four seasons are there to the circling year:
Four houses where the dreams of men abide ---
The stark and naked Winter without pride,
The Spring like a young maiden soft and fair;
The Summer like a bride about to bear
The issue of the love she deified;
And lastly, Autumn, on the turning tide
That ebbs the voice of nature to its bier.

Four houses with two spacious chambers each,
Named Birth and Death, wherein Time joys and grieves.
Is there no Fate so wise enough to teach
Into which door Life enters and retrieves?
What matter since his voice is out of reach,
And Sorrow fills My House of Falling Leaves!

IV

The House of Falling Leaves we entered in ---
He and I --- we entered in and found it fair;
At midnight some one called him up the stair,
And closed him in the Room I could not win.
Now must I go alone out in the din
Of hurrying days: for forth he cannot fare;
I must go on with Time, and leave him there
In Autumn s house where dreams will soon grow thin.

When Time shall close the door unto the house
And opens that of Winter's soon to be,
And dreams go moving through the ruined boughs ---
He who went in comes out a Memory.
From his deep sleep no sound may e'er arouse, ---
The moaning rain, nor wind-embattled sea.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010



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