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Robert Bridges (1844-1930)

Low Barometer


              1The south-wind strengthens to a gale,
              2Across the moon the clouds fly fast,
              3The house is smitten as with a flail,
              4The chimney shudders to the blast.

              5On such a night, when Air has loosed
              6Its guardian grasp on blood and brain,
              7Old terrors then of god or ghost
              8Creep from their caves to life again;

              9And Reason kens he herits in
            10A haunted house. Tenants unknown
            11Assert their squalid lease of sin
            12With earlier title than his own.

            13Unbodied presences, the pack'd
            14Pollution and remorse of Time,
            15Slipp'd from oblivion reënact
            16The horrors of unhouseld crime.

            17Some men would quell the thing with prayer
            18Whose sightless footsteps pad the floor,
            19Whose fearful trespass mounts the stair
            20Or burts the lock'd forbidden door.

            21Some have seen corpses long interr'd
            22Escape from hallowing control,
            23Pale charnel forms -- nay ev'n have heard
            24The shrilling of a troubled soul,

            25That wanders till the dawn hath cross'd
            26The dolorous dark, or Earth hath wound
            27Closer her storm-spredd cloke, and thrust
            28The baleful phantoms underground.

Notes

9] kens: knows. herits: OED defines as a verb taking an object, "inherits", but Bridges appears to use it as an intransitive verb.

16] unhouseld: unforgiven, not having been unabsolved by the last rites of the church.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Poetical Works of Robert Bridges with The Testament of Beauty but excluding the eight drama, 2nd edn. (London: Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, 1953): 541-42.
First publication date: 1926
Publication date note: New Verse
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/8/11

Form: quatrains
Rhyme: abab


Other poems by Robert Bridges