Harthouse in Summer

Harthouse in Summer

After 30 years of life in this house, I find it impossible to separate the man from the house. The spirit of this place informs everything I do…in poetry, in prose, in life. I never think of myself as living in a different house or in a different town.  I am part of its spiritual timbers. James Hart

Recently, I wrote the following poem which conveys some of my symbolic attachment to the house I use as my email identity and as the name for this blog site. Although I created this blog for prose, I thought this poem could function as an inaugural piece. The poem also has one subtle theme connection to Billy Collins’ poem “Schoolsville,” although it is not a major one. His poem mentions a teacher’s “big white house” located at “Maple and Main.” It is probably more of a connection of sound sense than anything else. The idea has occupied my imagination for some time until I finally wrote this effort.


At Maples on Main

James Hart


“Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.”

-from Walt Whitman, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”


When I consider my current email moniker, harthouse “at”

my present provider, the harthouse part I’ll always maintain

as easy extension of myself. But lately I’m debating naming

my house “Maples on Main,” recalling my grandfather’s home


on South Virginia in Carrollton was called “The Maples”

until the Great Depression booted them from its door,

that exit spreading melancholy over my mother’s life to me.

These maples I planted here decades ago have outgrown


my house’s height, touch the stars when I look up and sigh.

They shelter me from summer’s heat and piercing sunlight

and winter’s sorrows of the sky.  I can put them to my own

reclusive uses now: imaging limbs as antlers thrashing


in time’s tormented storm, or seeing the season’s leaves form

airy aviaries for wrens, robins, and jays—nature’s cathedral

for my choir of insect buzz and birdsong news.  Shakespeare

calls these boughs “bare ruined choirs” when a man looks


into the autumn of his bones: sunset, twilight, night, the ashes

we spread on God’s heavenly bed.  I have learned to lose William’s

dimmer view of “Death’s second self” and view blackest night

as my own second home, much like Whitman’s patient spider


launching filaments of loneliness to lodge against the universe

and take hold somewhere like a rope anchoring destiny

to a pledge:  I no longer see myself as unaccountable,

I’m no longer twinned to echoes of familiar hollowness.


I too can walk out like Orion striding blind beyond the western

ledge, the eternal huntsman clothed in his own shrouded skin,

his constellation forming the hourglass of a winter passage,

his tread steady as a man determined to bridge unbroken voids.


This is how our going out should be: into the armature of night,

into the silence of the stars, whether going to take the anxious

dog for his walk, collect the paper from the remnants of the rain,

or speak to shadows of a love you thought you lost one fabled day.


Imagery indebted to William Shakespeare, Sonnet 73

February 3, 2013


3 comments on “Harthouse in Summer

  1. gpcox says:

    The house is beautiful and I’m enjoying your stories. Keep up the good work.

  2. James Hart says:

    Thank you for the comment. This is just a beginning for me, and I am learning how to use WordPress as I go. I appreciate the notice. I am curious how you found this, if you could let me know. I also am working on a poetry blog, if you would be interested. Its address is
    Thanks again, jh

  3. gpcox says:

    Check your white star in red box up top for notifications, I have answered your comment on my site. I will check out your other blog.

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