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Hilltop: A Literary Paper. Volume 1 Number 3

The Old Stone House

The Old Stone House

This is a place of dooms, where bones
And caterpillars, found
Beneath hedges and the neat
Green lawns, Abound;
Where avaricious sea-birds wheel
The roof-tops round.

Yet peace come easily, within
The sea's reflection, dull
And gleaming. Through windows stalks
The water, curtains swell
With the thick embodied air the evening
Brings to fall

Here on the hilltop house, the place
Of varnished pain.
The earth and sea have poured
Tyrannical deaths upon
This man-made place, and made
It all their own.

Perhaps it has stood a thousand years.
Two minutes perhaps
Have aged the stone and covered
The walls with moss.
The ivy climbed through people's lives
Or a second's space.

But, because it was built upon
The heads and hopes of men,
The gods were here before the house
And the gods still drain
The blood from the stones and the tiles
And lives there again.

page 8

The living have passed unheeded.
Families in rooms
Were appalled by the falling tile and guessed
Their private dooms.
So they went away from the house
And said that soon

Would the walls fall and the screaming gull
Climb past a shape of stones
Crumbling into the clay, and the sea-light slip
Brokenly over the bones
Of a humbled house, that their fright
Would live there alone.

With the air of an inhabitant there walked
From the solid door
An ancient lady, grey and saint-like.
And before
Here bounded, golden brown and strong,
A dog whose rare

And solitary energy displayed
Such elemental ease
That we, unwieldy visitors,
No human grace
Could show, opposing this, in such
A fragile place.

A shadow of past years, the lady went
Around the failing house;
As grey as its walls here dress
And as pale her face
As the colourless windows. And her steps
Were as effortless

As the circling tireless gull.
She had grown old
With all the spirits of the place,
Became their child,
And now here life like theirs
Was still and cold.

Only the dog bounded all about
Her accustomed way
Savage and strong. He would live
All his life away
With the ghosts and never would know
Their presence or sway.

page 9

What passion will help
In the half-light between
Day and night, when the elements,
Air and water, shine
Through the soul's openings, cold
As a knife, and keen?

Human life is as like, or even
More ready to be,
For the frail and hesitant,
A dwindling tragedy;
Not running from peak to pit
But from shadows to possibly

A dark as profound and close
As the waters under a swamp,
Where no light comes, nor warmth,
But the bodiless damp
Covers the eyes and the mouth
With its stamp.

But for those who are meek and content
To suffer all pain
Knowing that it is but joy's
True partner and brain,
There may be a beauty at dusk
No night can restrain.

A beauty which can bound
To the heart of the dark
Like a sliver of sun, like morning's
Irrational sock
Of light, quivering, intense,
And eager to laugh.

Then they may have their company
Golden and brown and strong,
Who will leap where the tired feet tried,
With a song
To the heart of the sun, where on earth
All passions belong.