Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920.  1920.
 
Apparition
 
John Erskine
 
 
I WALKED my fastest down the twilight street;
  Sometimes I ran a little, it was so late.
At first the houses echoed back my feet,
  Then the path softened just before our gate.
Even in the dusk I saw, even in my haste,        5
  Lawn-tracks and gravel-marks. “That’s where he plays;
The scooter and the cart these lines have traced,
  And Baby wheels her doll here, sunny days.”
Our door was open; on the porch still lay
  Ungathered toys; our hearth-light cut the gloam;        10
Within, round table-candles, you—and they.
  And I called out, I shouted, “I am come home!”
At first you heard not, then you raised your eyes,
Watched me a moment—and showed no surprise.
 
Such dreams we have had often, when we stood        15
  Thought-struck amid the merciful routine,
And distance more than danger chilled the blood,
  When we looked back and saw what lay between;
Like ghosts that have their portion of farewell,
  Yet will be looking in on life again,        20
And see old faces, and have news to tell,
  But no one heeds them; they are phantom men.
Now home indeed, and old loves greet us back.
Yet—shall we say it?—something here we lack,
  Some reach and climax we have left behind.        25
And something here is dead, that without sound
Moves lips at us and beckons, shadow-bound,
  But what it means, we cannot call to mind.

  Harper’s Magazine
 

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