I have come to the dear old threshold,
With eager, hurrying feet,
To scent the odorous lilies
That once were so white and sweet.
To taste the apricots mellow
That crimson the garden wall;
To gather the golden pippins
That down in the orchard fall.
I passed by the uncut hedges,
And up through the thistled walk,
And beside the fall of my footsteps
There was only the crickets' talk.
The weeds grew high in the arbor,
And the nettles, rank and tall,
Had throttled the sweet-breathed lilies
That leaned on the latticed wall.
The little white house is empty,
Its ceilings are cobwebbed o'er,
And the dust and mould are lying
Thick on the trackless floor.
There are no prints in the doorway,
No garments hung in the hall,
And the ghosts of death and silence
Sit and gloat over all!
No eager faces of children
Brightened the window-pane,
Never a peal of laughter
Rippled along the lane;
So I turned through the daisies yellow,
That nodded to see me pass,
To seek for the mellow pippins
That drop in the orchard grass.
But I found a worm in my apples,
And flung them sadly away;
The pool that I thought eternal
All foul and poisonous lay.
A black snake crept from its hiding
And hissed in the marshes wild,
And I bent my head in the rushes
And sobbed like a homesick child!