We’re late for Halloween, but this poem by Thomas Hood has a wonderful mysterious feel about it. I remember a house just like this one. It was a large late Victorian villa, facing away from the road in its own grounds, with a terrace and a sweeping lawn. It had stood empty for years and it was slowly rotting away. Brambles coiled around the porch and the floors were littered with flaked-off paint and bits of plaster. There were rotten boards so you had to watch your step and mice, or maybe they were rats, scuttering around behind the wood panelling.
One summer afternoon my friends and I disturbed an old man sleeping in one of the attic rooms and he chased us down the service stairs and out into the garden.
As Hood says, ‘Some dreams we have are nothing else but dreams’. But still, we never went back.
The Haunted House, by Thomas Hood (This is an extract. Read the whole poem here).
Unhinged, the iron gates half-open hung
Jarred by the gusty gales of many winters,
That from its crumbled pedestal had flung
One marble globe in splinters.
The wood-louse dropped, and rolled into a ball,
Touched by some impulse, occult or mechanic;
And nameless beetles ran along the wall
In universal panic.
The subtle spider, that from overhead
Hung like a spy on human guilt and error
Suddenly turn’d, and up it’s slender thread
Ran with a nimble terror.
O’er all there hung the shadow of a fear;
A sense of mystery the spirit daunted;
And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,
The place is haunted.
Posted by Chris Routledge