The House with Nobody In It
The photos on this page were taken in the state of Maine,
most of them in the fishing villages that dot its coastline.
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, but I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.
If I had a lot of money and all of 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 rack 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 arms around a husband and a wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when its 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.
-- Joyce Kilmer
Joyce Kilmer was a journalist, editor, poet and lecturer.  His best known poem is probably
"Trees," but "The House with Nobody In It" has always been my favorite of his poems.  At the
time Kilmer volunteered to serve in World War I, he was considered the leading American
Catholic poet and lecturer of his time.
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Joyce Kilmer was killed in the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918 and is buried in the Oise-Aisne
American Cemetery in France.  He was 31 years old and left behind a wife, four young children
and a lifetime of unwritten poems which would've been read for years to come, had he lived
to create them.  You'll find some of his poems here:  
The Poems of Joyce Kilmer   -- Nancy
Tell a friend:
The real "House with Nobody In
It" was rescued and restored a
number of years after Kilmer
composed the poem about it.
Located between Kilmer's town
of Mahwah, NJ and Suffern, NY,
for years, it was the site of a bar
and grill called "Nobody's Inn," in
deference to the poem about it.