No, there is nothing here —
darkness, dead air, and dust —
nothing you would be seeking.
But enter then, if you must;
push at the stubborn door
on its sagging hinge;
under your hesitant step
feel the floor boards waken and cringe.
Take heed of the shadows, though —
long undisturbed,
they resent you, they lie in wait,
they are only briefly curbed
by this sudden onslaught of sun,
this stirring of musty air.
Defy them, then, if you will:
defy them, then, if you dare.
Walk through the watching hall,
go up the angular stair,
and slowly, perhaps, or soon,
you will lose yourself somewhere.
These dark remembering rooms
are heavy with the past:
they will stop the breath in your throat,
they will suck you down at last;
most poisonous, most deadly,
will be this shaken dust
when the closing shadows circle —
defy them now, for you must!
Out from the rigid throat
that the shadows strangle
cry your defiance — and they
will attack from another angle.
Silence, broken by sound,
will become your slave,
and the scurrying shadows will cower
back in their corner cave.
They will hail you as master,
and, tremulous, full of awe,
exalt your domination,
proclaim your murmur law —
till you stand triumphant, mortal,
the warm blood flooding the vein,
and all the obsequious echoes
race to your cry again,
fawn at your thundering footstep
insolent on the stair,
and honor with soundless trumpets
your living presence there.
Defy them, defy them still!
They work the devil’s wili
They are no true measure,
no fit rod,
only distortions, to show you
falsely, as coward or god.
Run! Oh, escape their cunning,
let their enchantments fail —
measure your mortal stature
against a mortal scale.
Turn again to the sunlight,
breathe of a living air,
and walk among your fellows
faring as mortals fare.
Let the shadows sleep, and the house
rot and rust. . . .
There was nothing there but darkness —
darkness, dead air, and dust.