Once there was a cabin here, and once there was a man; And something happened here before my memory began. Time has made the two of them the fuel of one flame And all we have of them is now a legend and a name.
All I have to say is what an old man said to me, And that would seem to be as much as there will ever be. â€œFifty years ago it was we found it where it sat.â€â€” And forty years ago it was old Archibald said that.
â€œAn apple tree thatâ€™s yet alive saw something, I suppose, Of what it was that happened there, and what no mortal knows. Some one on the mountain heard far off a master shriek, And then there was a light that showed the way for men to seek.
â€œWe found it in the morning with an iron bar behind, And there were chains around it; but no search could ever find, Either in the ashes that were left, or anywhere, A sign to tell of who or what had been with Stafford there.
â€œStafford was a likely man with ideas of his ownâ€” Though I could never like the kind that likes to live alone; And when you met, you found his eyes were always on your shoes, As if they did the talking when he asked you for the news.
â€œThatâ€™s all, my son. Were I to talk for half a hundred years Iâ€™d never clear away from there the cloud that never clears. We buried what was left of it,â€”the bar, too, and the chains; And only for the apple tree thereâ€™s nothing that remains.â€
Forty years ago it was I heard the old man say, â€œThatâ€™s all, my son.â€â€”And here again I find the place to-day, Deserted and told only by the tree that knows the most, And overgrown with golden-rod as if there were no ghost.