The Lost Path

The garden’s full of scented wallflowers,
And, save that these stir faintly, nothing stirs;
Only a distant bell in hollow chime
Cried out just now for far-forgoten time,
And three reverberate words the great bell spoke.
The knocker’s made of brass, the door of oak,
And such a clamor must be loosed on air
By the knocker’s blow that knock I do not dare.
The silence is a spell, and if it break,
What things, that now lie sleeping, will awake?

Are simple creatures lying there in cool
Sweet linen sheets, in slumber like the pool
Of moonlight white as water on the floor?
Will they come down laughing and unlock the door?
And will they draw me in, and let me sit
On the tall settle while the lamp is lit?
And shall I see their innocent clean lives
Shining as plainly as the plates and knives,
The blue bowls, and the brass cage with its bird?

But listen! listen! surely something stirred
Within the house, and creeping down the halls
Draws close to me with sinister footfalls.
Will long pale fingers softly lift the latch,
And lead me up, under the osier thatch,
To a little room, a little secret room,
Hung with green arras picturing the doom,
The most disasterous death of some proud knight?
And shall I search the room by candle-light
And see, behind the curtains of my bed,
A murdered man who sleeps as sleep the dead?

Or will my clamorous knocking shake the trees
With lonely thunder through the stillnesses,
And then lie down the coldest fear of all
To nothing, and deliberate silence fall
On the house deep in the silence, and no one come
To door or window, staring blind and dumb?

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The Lost Path