Joyce Kilmer

(1886-1918 / New Jersey)

The House With Nobody In It - Poem by Joyce Kilmer

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
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 in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
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 glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
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 them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
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 lone
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 wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
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 back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

Comments about The House With Nobody In It by Joyce Kilmer

  • (2/1/2018 2:53:00 PM)

    my dad use to tell this to us when we were kids along with quite a few more. (Report) Reply

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  • (1/28/2018 10:50:00 AM)

    My grade six class memorized it for a concert in 1963! I can still remember most of the words. I am going back to memorize it again for a writing group I attend. 55 years and it's still a great memory! (Report) Reply

  • (1/25/2018 6:44:00 PM)

    My Mother Nina Strawser learned this poem in school and recited it all the time. She could remember it till she passed away at the age of 89 and my brother read it at her funeral Love it (Report) Reply

  • (1/7/2018 1:54:00 PM)

    I read this poem in 7th grade. Now at 70 years old, I find that the poem is about me. My parents home where I grew up and still live in I had put it back into shape. It was my dream. bit by bit, with little money and a lot of creativity. It holds many good memories and much family but now there is only me. I understand so well what a home, broken and tattered really means. I have to leave this home after 60 years and it breaks my heart. (Report) Reply

  • (12/27/2017 10:10:00 AM)

    I learned this poem in St. Kevin's Elementary Parochial School, Flushing, NY in the 1940's. It made a big impression me and I wrote it down to always remember. Although i had other, more high profile responsibilities, I ended my career as a licensed real estate broker, but not before seeing The House With Nobody in it many times, in fact. This poem still humbles me. I wll never forget Joyce Kilmer, who was killed in World War I (Report) Reply

  • (11/30/2017 3:53:00 PM)

    My favorite poem of all! Now I read it to my grandsons who also love hearing it! (Report) Reply

  • (11/20/2017 7:56:00 AM)

    My dad would recite this poem as we drove to upstate N.Y from northern VA to visit my grandma. There is an exit on the freeway/highway for Suffern and would trigger his recitation. He passed away in 1998 and now I am a grandmother. This morning in the shower I thought of the poem and was able to put together the first verse fairly accurately. I had to look it up to see all the verses again. Pleasant thoughts of my father. He must be smiling down. (Report) Reply

    (12/9/2017 11:15:00 AM)

    That's a beautiful treasure you hold in your heart. I'm a grandpa, and those are the memories that I treasure as well.

  • (1/15/2017 3:55:00 PM)

    The House with nobody in it
    My father would recite this poem, along with numerous others, , , by various poets. Indeed he also worked with the 26 letters of the alphabet himself and penned plenty of beautiful and heart wrenching verse.
    But this poem about the house with nobody in it, always moved him, and anyone in earshot of the words..
    Kilmer and his words have never left me...they move me still
    (Report) Reply

  • Tatiana Berdennikova (1/5/2017 7:24:00 AM)

    The House With Nobody In It
    A lovely poem. Every physical object is stamped with a memory of life and a story behind it. (Report) Reply

  • (8/5/2016 8:43:00 AM)

    This poem touches my heart in so many ways. One of my very favorites.51218 (Report) Reply

  • Paul Amrod (7/29/2016 3:36:00 PM)

    This is the first poem I have read mentioning the magical town of Suffern. I went to school there from the sixth to the tenth grade and I visited it recently. The town has hardly changed at all. Right on the Jersey border where I was the paperboy that built a route up for this community and I cherished this town still. About this poem it is highly lyrical and descriptive with a lulling tone and a sweet theme. Tragic that Joyce lived such a short life due to his service in France. (Report) Reply

  • Bernard Snyder (7/29/2016 8:55:00 AM)

    My first time ever reading this poem. What an amazing one. Great rhyme scheme also. (Report) Reply

  • Oluwatobi Moses (7/29/2016 7:19:00 AM)

    Ihad once read, now am rereading. Nice poem (Report) Reply

  • Asis Biswas (7/29/2016 6:01:00 AM)

    remembrance of a man in his old days are the deeds are of the men in his young.old house once sheltered a family, now stands empty. pathos is always at the end of life. always say good bye with its crumbling roof, broken windows.good easy writing poem by poet joycee kilmer. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (7/29/2016 4:21:00 AM)

    Old farmhouse! ! Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • (3/8/2016 8:36:00 PM)

    This is, perhaps, the most beautiful poem i have ever read. Every time I read it, it makes me cry. (Report) Reply

  • Oluwatobi Moses (12/12/2014 12:18:00 PM)

    But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside. (Report) Reply

  • (12/12/2014 8:06:00 AM)

    Human sentiment about the home is beautifully created in the poem and great poet he is. Likes with much respect. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Hagwood (12/11/2014 7:00:00 PM)

    When I read the poem, in my mind I saw some old houses my farther had
    photographed in black and white; Thank you, for share the poem
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/9/2010 7:41:00 PM)

    I actually had to memorize Trees, also by Joyce Kilmer for girl scouts as a kid. I heard this on an old rerun of The Waltons and fell in love with it. It hangs in the living room of my house, which I found on Halloween when all of the other houses on a block where we were trick or treating were well lit and lived in. It stood alone and lonely. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: house, baby, money, people, lonely, sad, work, home, alone

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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