Home  »  library  »  Song  »  Helen Gray Cone (1859–1934)

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Helen Gray Cone (1859–1934)

The House of Hate

MINE enemy builded well, with the soft blue hills in sight;

But betwixt his house and the hills I builded a house for spite:

And the name thereof I set in the stonework over the gate,

With a carving of bats and apes; and I called it the House of Hate.

And the front was alive with masks of malice and of despair;

Horned demons that leered in stone, and women with serpent hair:

That whenever his glance would rest on the soft hills far and blue,

It must fall on my evil work, and my hatred should pierce him through.

And I said, “I will dwell herein, for beholding my heart’s desire

On my foe:” and I knelt, and fain had brightened the hearth with fire;

But the brands they would hiss and die, as with curses a strangled man,

And the hearth was cold from the hour that the House of Hate began.

And I called with a voice of power, “Make ye merry, all friends of mine,

In the hall of my House of Hate, where is plentiful store and wine;

We will drink unhealth together unto him I have foiled and fooled!”

And they stared and they passed me by, but I scorned thereby to be schooled.

And I ordered my board for feast, and I drank in the topmost seat

Choice grape from a curious cup, and the first it was wonder-sweet;

But the second was bitter indeed, and the third was bitter and black,

And the gloom of the grave came on me, and I cast the cup to wrack.

Alone, I was stark alone, and the shadows were each a fear,

And thinly I laughed but once, for the echoes were strange to hear;

And the wind on the stairway howled, as a green-eyed wolf might cry,

And I heard my heart: I must look on the face of a man or die!

So I crept to my mirrored face, and I looked and I saw it grown

(By the light in my shaking hand) to the like of the masks of stone:

And with horror I shrieked aloud as I flung my torch and fled;

And a fire-snake writhed where it fell, and at midnight the sky was red.

And at morn, when the House of Hate was a ruin despoiled of flame,

I fell at mine enemy’s feet and besought him to slay my shame;

But he looked in mine eyes and smiled, and his eyes were calm and great:

“You rave or have dreamed,” he said,—“I saw not your House of Hate!”