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  Something lies in the room
    Over against my own;
  The windows are lit with a ghastly bloom
    Of candles, burning alone,--
  Untrimmed, and all aflare
  In the ghastly silence there!


  People go by the door,
    Tiptoe, holding their breath,
  And hush the talk that they held before,
    Lest they should waken Death,
  That is awake all night
  There in the candlelight!


  The cat upon the stairs
    Watches with flamy eye
  For the sleepy one who shall unawares
    Let her go stealing by.
  She softly, softly purrs,
  And claws at the banisters.


  The bird from out its dream
    Breaks with a sudden song,
  That stabs the sense like a sudden scream;
    The hound the whole night long
  Howls to the moonless sky,
  So far, and starry, and high.


William Dean Howells