When the fingers of rain on the window pane
Tap, tap, tap,
And the feet of the rain run over the roof
In the dark of a summer night,
Then out of their graves old memories creep
And they steal up into the house of sleep
And they rap, rap, rap
On the door of the heart till it sets a light
And opens the portal and spreads the board
For the waiting horde.

Then the great wide world seems all astir
With the ghostly shapes of the things that were.
A Pleasure that perished, a dead Despair,
An old Delight and a vanished Care,
A Passion that builded its funeral pyre,
From the worthless timber of brief desire,
A Hope that wandered and lost its way
In the dazzling beams of its own bright ray,
With long gone Worries and long lost Joys
Come stealthily creeping with never a noise
(For the things that have gone on the road to God,
When they turn back earthward are silence-shod);
And they enter the heart's great living room
When the rain beats down from a sky of gloom
In the dark of a summer night.

And they tell old tales and they sing old songs
That are sweet, sweet, sweet;
While the fingers of rain on the window pane
Beat, beat, beat.
And they feast on the past and drink its wine
And call it a brew divine.

But when in the east the darkness pales
And the edge of the clouds show light,
The ghosts go back with a silent tread
And only the heart knows what they said
In the dark of the summer night.

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.

Back to Poem Index