Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
J. C. Squire. 1884–
129. A House
NOW very quietly, and rather mournfully, 
  In clouds of hyacinth the sun retires, 
And all the stubble-fields that were so warm to him 
  Keep but in memory their borrowed fires. 
And I, the traveller, break, still unsatisfied,         5
  From that faint exquisite celestial strand, 
And turn and see again the only dwelling-place 
  In this wide wilderness of darkening land. 
The house, that house, O now what change has come to it. 
  Its crude red-brick façade, its roof of slate;  10
What imperceptible swift hand has given it 
  A new, a wonderful, a queenly state? 
No hand has altered it, that parallelogram, 
  So inharmonious, so ill-arranged; 
That hard blue roof in shape and colour's what it was;  15
  No, it is not that any line has changed. 
Only that loneliness is now accentuate 
  And, as the dusk unveils the heaven's deep cave, 
This small world's feebleness fills me with awe again, 
  And all man's energies seem very brave.  20
And this mean edifice, which some dull architect 
  Built for an ignorant earth-turning hind, 
Takes on the quality of that magnificent 
  Unshakable dauntlessness of human kind. 
Darkness and stars will come, and long the night will be,  25
  Yet imperturbable that house will rest, 
Avoiding gallantly the stars' chill scrutiny, 
  Ignoring secrets in the midnight's breast. 
Thunders may shudder it, and winds demoniac 
  May howl their menaces, and hail descend:  30
Yet it will bear with them, serenely, steadfastly, 
  Not even scornfully, and wait the end. 
And all a universe of nameless messengers 
  From unknown distances may whisper fear, 
And it will imitate immortal permanence,  35
  And stare and stare ahead and scarcely hear. 
It stood there yesterday; it will to-morrow, too, 
  When there is none to watch, no alien eyes 
To watch its ugliness assume a majesty 
  From this great solitude of evening skies.  40
So lone, so very small, with worlds and worlds around, 
  While life remains to it prepared to outface 
Whatever awful unconjectured mysteries 
  May hide and wait for it in time and space. 

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