Complete Modern Home No. 115
Sears, Roebuck & Company ~ 1908 - 1940
Similar to so many homes right here in my Indiana Neighborhood!
Including the one I lived in years ago as a student in South Bend.
When my cousin Maggie sent me the following photograph, I couldn't help thinking of "The House With Nobody In It" by Joyce Kilmer. Maggie's caption perfectly condenses the sentiment of the poem:
"Whenever I see abandoned houses I wonder about the family that used to live there. The excitement when the house was first built, the children who ran through those rooms, the meals that were served and shared. The happiness and even the pain. Oh, if walls could talk!"
~ Maggie Mesneak Wick* ~
The House with Nobody In It
Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.
I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.
This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.
If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.
Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.
But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.
So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.
by American poet Joyce Kilmer(1886-1918)
best known for the occasionally parodied poem, "Trees"
have been paired with Kilmer's poem.
Click here to see more.
I'm also reminded of a couple of songs
1. "You're Beautiful Just As You Are,"
sung by Oscar the Grouch
in one of Ben and Sam's favorite childhood videos:
Don't Eat the Pictures:
"Broken and beautiful, fractured and rare
Missing pieces that used to be there . . .
Broken and beautiful, cracked but okay
Can't imagine who'd throw you away . . ."
2. And Janis Ian's classic, "Memories"
(mentioned elsewhere on this blog):
"There are memories within the walls and tapestries . . . "
Lastly (and also mentioned a few times before) is Philip Larkin's abbreviated sonnet; for surely this poem cries out for a final quatrain, but, no, that's all there is, no fitting conclusion, no closure, no fond farewell, just the "poor old house . . . with a broken heart," the "shot . . . long fallen wide":
Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.
The Bereft Music Room With Nobody In It: Too Sad to Explain
Photography by Aaron B. Carriker
*For more insights from my Cousin Extraordinaire,
Maggie Mesneak Wick:
The Still Small Voice of Heaven
Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Or Not
SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
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Tuesday, May 14th
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