The south‑wind strengthens to a gale,
Across the moon the clouds fly fast,
The house is smitten as with a flail,
The chimney shudders to the blast.
On such a night, when Air has loosed
Its guardian grasp on blood and brain,
Old terrors then of god or ghost
Creep from their caves to life again.
And Reason kens he herits in
A haunted house. Tenants unknown
Assert their squalid lease of sin
With earlier title than his own.
Unbodied presences, the packed
Pollution and remorse of Time,
Slipped from oblivion re-enact
The horrors of unhouseled crime.
Some men would quell the thing with prayer
Whose sightless footsteps pad the floor,
Whose fearful trespass mounts the stair
Or bursts the locked forbidden door.
Some have seen corpses long interred
Escape from hallowing control,
Pale charnel forms—nay ev’n have heard
The shrilling of a troubled soul,
That wanders till the dawn hath crossed
The dolorous dark, or Earth hath wound
Closer her storm‑spread cloak, and thrust
The baleful phantoms underground.
– Robert Bridges, “Low Barometer,” from Poetical Works of Robert Bridges, first published 1926
Categories: Poetry and Prose