by Ruth Manning-Sanders (1886-1988)
Out in a night of cold and gloom
I spied a little firelit room;
I heard the flare of flickering flame,
Through the half-open door there came
A ruddy glow. “Step in,” cried I,
For here within ’tis warm and dry.
And why should my unwilling feet
Go plodding up the splashy street?”
So bold I went to enter, but
The door closed softly.
I peeped in at the window-pane
Bedrizzled o’er with falling rain;
Upon the hob the kettle spat.
The quiet forms of those who sat
Before the fire stirred not at all.
Their shadows dancing on the wall.
With nod and jerk and monstrous leap.
Made merry in a wild bo-peep.
“Good friends, pray let me in,” I cried.
“For I am comfortless outside.
Here in the mud and rain;” but no.
It was not of their company
That such as I could ever be.
Thought I to see their welcome? Lo,
The ruddy embers ceased to glow,
As though my breath had blown them out;
The kettle with its hissing spout,
And those that sat and those that played
Upon the wall alike did fade.
And into nothingness and night –
So through the darkness on I went,
Weary and wet and discontent.