Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Aren't We All Haunted . . .

No. No. No. Hear me out.

Haven't you ever walked into an old house and just felt the history, felt the presence of the people who lived there before? Haven't you ever touched an antique in a store, with its wear and scars, and sensed the hands that used it, sensed the lives lived in its presence?

My old house is full of antiques (some precious, most not) and on a lonely evening I can stand in my living room and smile because I am never really alone. Our little house is a crowded house, filled with many old friends. If you listen closely, you can hear their footsteps upstairs or in the next room.

We share space with other people from other times, and our lives are blessed. The graceful china cabinet with the curved glass, the well used old pine library table, the creaky straight back rocker, the beautiful pieces of china picked up here and there, all bring their own spirits. It makes for a full house.

                         How about some poetry:

Haunted Houses
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,—

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

Photo Source: All Things Halloween.


  1. I think of this when I visit places like Dove Cottage or Hill Top Farm, especially because they're set up with objects from the time Wordsworth (his tiny eyeglasses!) or Beatrix Potter (her tiny, tiny brushes!) were living there.

    1. I think that the older I get the more connected I feel to history. (perhaps because I am coming closer to becoming a part of it)

  2. What an insightful poem. I often feel this way as I pass the homes of neighbors who have passed. I see them still in their gardens and homes (in my minds eye). thanks for sharing this poem. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

    1. I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes It's almost as if I am seeing a double image, present layered over past.