One hour: as dim he and his house now look
As a reflection in a rippling brook,
While I remember him; but first, his house.
Empty it sounded. It was dark with forest boughs
That brushed the walls and made the mossy tiles
Part of the squirrels’ track. In all those miles
Of forest silence and forest murmur, only
One house—“Lonely!” he said, “I wish it were lonely”—
Which the trees looked upon from every side,
And that was his.
He waved good-bye to hide
A sigh that he converted to a laugh.
He seemed to hang rather than stand there, half
Ghost-like, half like a beggar’s rag, clean wrung
And useless on the brier where it has hung
Long years a-washing by sun and wind and rain.
But why I call back man and house again
Is that now on a beech-tree’s tip I see
As then I saw—I at the gate, and he
In the house darkness,—a magpie veering about,
A magpie like a weathercock in doubt.