The House With Nobody In It

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 a  crumbling roof and the shutters  fallen apart,

For I can't help thinking the  poor old house is a house with a  broken heart.


     Joyce Kilmer