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

  • (11/30/2018 9:42:00 PM)


    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (11/29/2018 1:50:00 PM)

    well written..heartfelt and unique (Report) Reply

  • (10/31/2018 9:28:00 AM)

    My mother, who is going on 92, used to recite this poem to me as a child. Would love to see a picture of this house (Report) Reply

  • (10/23/2018 8:27:00 PM)

    I suspect this poem may have been inspiration for Tom Waits' song House Where Nobody Lives (Report) Reply

    (12/6/2018 3:01:00 PM)

    Yes, I think that is highly likely. Waits has been inspired, similarly by Edna Millay. His song: No One Knows I'm Gone. Can't remember the Millay poem at the moment.

  • (10/22/2018 12:46:00 AM)

    It is a simple but beautiful thought (Report) Reply

  • (10/2/2018 11:56:00 AM)

    My favorite poem by Mr. Kilmer. He echoes my thoughts every time I encounter a weary, abandoned place that once was home to someone, or a factory that once provided a living for so many people, The sadness overwhelms me. (Report) Reply

  • (8/31/2018 8:17:00 AM)

    I have seen homes like this in rural areas & it definitely sad! ! I too think about the lives lived in these houses. (Report) Reply

  • (8/29/2018 11:56:00 PM)

    One of the first poems I read as a very young child, and have loved it all of my life. (Report) Reply

  • (7/29/2018 2:54:00 PM)


  • (6/20/2018 6:44:00 PM)

    It was almost 80 years ago...but seems like yesterday... that, during an assembly at my Hillside, NJ elementary school, the principal read this great and memorable poem to us. (Report) Reply

  • (3/31/2018 11:49:00 PM)

    I had to learn a new poem every week in the 5th grade and this was one of my favorites (Report) Reply

  • (3/22/2018 11:59:00 AM)

    When I was in grade school one of our lessons was to memorize Joyce Kilmers beloved poem, the House With Nobody In It, and I loved it so much I would repeat it over and over at social gatherings and family get togethers. I'm 88 yrs old now and still remember it's haunting words. So beautiful! (Report) Reply

    (10/16/2018 11:40:00 PM)

    My mother who was 83 and just passed recited it to us as children. Would you like to have us record you saying it? contact we would love to use it in a memorial service.

  • (3/16/2018 10:11:00 PM)

    Oh, this poem I learned in fifth grade.I love it still today. (Report) Reply

  • (3/16/2018 5:46:00 PM)

    Loved this as a child. It was the inspiration for the first poem I can remember writing when I was about 8:
    There's an old house,
    run down, neglected
    It's easily seen it's been rejected.
    Left there to stand alone
    nevermore to be someone's home.
    (Report) Reply

  • (3/12/2018 12:07:00 AM)

    My sister would this poem to when I was a little girl. Oh love this poem. (Report) Reply

  • (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

  • (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

Read all 44 comments »

# 404 poem on top 500 Poems

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

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

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]