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For works with similar titles, see House.


I

Shall I sonnet-sing you about myself?
    Do I live in a house you would like to see?
Is it scant of gear, has it store of pelf?
    "Unlock my heart with a sonnet-key?"

II

Invite the world, as my betters have done?
    "Take notice: this building remains on view,
Its suites of reception every one,
    Its private apartment and bedroom too;

III

"For a ticket, apply to the Publisher."
       No: thanking the public I must decline.
A peep through my window, if folk prefer;
    But, please you, no foot over threshold of mine!

IV

I have mixed with a crowd and heard free talk
    In a foreign land where an earthquake chanced;
And a house stood gaping, nought to balk
    Man's eye wherever he gazed or glanced.

V

The whole of the frontage shaven sheer,
    The inside gaped: exposed to day,
Right and wrong and common and queer,
    Bare, as the palm of your hand, it lay.

VI

The owner? Oh, he had been crushed, no doubt!
    "Odd tables and chairs for a man of wealth!
What a parcel of musty old books about!
    He smoked,—no wonder he lost his health!

VII

"I doubt he bathed before he dressed.
    A brasier?—the pagan, he burned perfumes!
You see it is proved, what the neighbours guessed:
    His wife and himself had separate rooms."

VIII

Friends, the goodman of the house at least
    Kept house to himself till an earthquake came:
'Tis the fall of its frontage permits you feast
    On the inside arrangement you praise or blame.

IX

Outside should suffice for evidence:
    And whoso desires to penetrate
Deeper, must dive by the spirit sense—
    No optics like yours, at any rate!

X

"Hoity toity! A street to explore,
    Your house the exception! 'With this same key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart,'
once more!"
    Did Shakespeare? If so, the less Shakespeare he!