The Cry of the Old House

COME back !
My little lads, come back!
My little maids, with starchèd frocks;
My lads, my maids, come back !
The poplar trees are black
Against the keen, lone, throbbing sky;
The tang of the old box
Fills the clear dusk from wall to wall,
And the dews fall.
Come back !
I watch, I cry:
Leave the rude wharf, the mart ;
Come back!
Else shall I break my heart.
Am I forgot ;
My days as they were not ? —
The warm, sweet, crooning tunes ;
The Sunday afternoons,
Wrought but for you ;
The larkspurs growing tall,
You wreathed in pink and blue,
Within your prayer-books small ;
The cupboards carved both in and out,
With curious, prickly vine,
And smelling far and fine ;
The pictures in a row,
Of folk you did not know;
The toys, the games, the shrill, gay rout;
The lanterns, that at hour for bed,
A charmed, but homely red,
Went flickering from shed to shed ;
The fagots crumbling, spicy, good,
Brought in from the great wood ;
The Dark that held you all about ;
The Wind that would not go ? —
Come back, my women and my men,
And take them all again!
Not yet, not yet,
Can you forget —
For you that are a man,
You battle not or reap, you dream nor plan ;
And you, so gray of look,
You cannot pluck a rose, or read a book,
Do aught for faith, or fame, or tears,
But I am there with all my years.
Oh, one and all,
When at the evenfall,
Your slim girls sing out on the stair,
Lo, I am there !
When blow the cherry boughs so fair
Athwart your slender town yards far away,
Lo, all at once you have no word to say ;
For at your throat a sharp, strange thing —
An old house set in an old spring!
Come back!
Come up the still, accustomed, wistful lands,
The poplar-haunted lands.
You need not call,
For I shall know,
And light the candles tall,
Set wine and loaf a-row.
Come back !
Unlatch the door,
And fall upon my heart once more.
For I shall comfort you, oh lad;
Oh, daughter, I shall make you wholly glad!
The wreck, the wrong,
The unavailing throng,
The sting, the smart,
Shall be as they were not,
Forgot, forgot !
Come back,
And fall upon my heart!
Lizette Woodworth Reese.