The Ghost of the Past


We two kept house, the Past and I,
      The Past and I;
I tended while it hovered nigh,
      Leaving me never alone.
It was a spectral housekeeping
      Where fell no jarring tone,
As strange, as still a housekeeping
      As ever has been known.

As daily I went up the stair,
      And down the stair,
I did not mind the Bygone there --
      The Present once to me;
Its moving meek companionship
      I wished might ever be,
There was in that companionship
      Something of ecstasy.

It dwelt with me just as it was,
      Just as it was
When first its prospects gave me pause
      In wayward wanderings,
Before the years had torn old troths
      As they tear all sweet things,
Before gaunt griefs had torn old troths
      And dulled old rapturings.

And then its form began to fade,
      Began to fade,
Its gentle echoes faintlier played
      At eves upon my ear
Than when the autumn's look embrowned
      The lonely chambers here,
The autumn's settling shades embrowned
      Nooks that it haunted near.

And so with time my vision less,
      Yea, less and less
Makes of that Past my housemistress,
      It dwindles in my eye;
It looms a far-off skeleton
      And not a comrade nigh,
A fitful far-off skeleton
      Dimming as days draw by.


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