Two summers ago my daughter, who was almost nine years old at the time, and I visited Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts. The house was beautiful and impressive, but my daughter was frightened not only in the house but outside as well, even as we walked through the magnificent gardens that Wharton herself designed. My daughter said the property felt haunted and asked if we could leave.
I later learned that The Mount is in fact rumored to be haunted. Surprisingly, Wharton had a deep fear of ghosts, despite having been a talented ghost story writer. Some of her most popular ghostly tales are Afterward, The Lady Maid’s Bell and The Triumph of Night.
It was our visit to The Mount that inspired this poem, which I originally posted in August 2018.
Melancholy, Like an Old Empty House
So, this is what it feels like
Like an old, empty house
sitting atop a hill
on a hot summer day.
Inside, it is dead, silent, still.
Like a fever, the heat permeates the walls,
the film covered windows
the narrow stairwell-
meant for the unseen,
hiding under smiles.
Melancholy, like an old, empty house
where the sun emanates a jaundiced glow
and the dust and ghosts
sit at the table awaiting tea
to be poured into cups
stained with past regrets.
But the time to drink is over
and the thirst that remains
If you want to learn more about Wharton, The Mount and her story Pomegranate Seed, please check out this episode of Strange & Scary Story Talk. Also, please note that while recoding I inadvertently say that The Mount is set upon a 13 acre property rather than 113 acres!