Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

The Haunted House

The Haunted House in days of yore
Stood lone, deserted, ruined, hoar,
With dusty panes, and moss-grown sill,
With grass-grown steps, rooms dark and chill,
Where, while the wailing night winds moaned,
Pale shrouded spectres shrieked and groaned;
And nightly, winged with wild affright,
The trembling youth in rapid flight
Would pass the spot, nor look behind,
For fearful sounds were on the wind,
Nor paused till on the hearth he stood
Amidst the dear fraternal brood.
The Haunted House!-how vast the change
In modern times! A goodly range
Of painted casements gaily shine
With glittering panes; large crystalline
And rich cut goblets brimming high-
Where troops of fiends in ambush lie,
Prompt to obey that potent charm-
The screw-propelling waiter's arm.
And, hark! through rooms gay, throng'd, and bright
Sound festal strains and laughter light,
And tinkling bells and dancing feet
Shall trip the time to music sweet.
Ah, simple youth! beware, beware!
Cross not that threshold snowy fair,
With varnished door for ever ope-
Within the ghosts of murdered hope
Of wedded duties, filial claims,
Of high resolves and noble aims,
Of health and fame, of time and peace,
With wail and plaint that will not cease,
For ever, when dark midnight falls,
Stalk through the rooms, glide round the walls;
While warning voices mournful swell
Upon the wind with dirge-like knell:
Pass, thoughtless youth! 'twere death to stay,
Avoid, turn from it, haste away!
84 Total read