Birds' Nest

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 doorway, 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 vapors 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.
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