Haunted Houses Summary, Explanation | ICSE Class 10 English



 ICSE Class 10 English Haunted Houses Summary and Poem Explanation with difficult word meanings


Haunted Houses – Are you looking for Summary and Explanation for ICSE Class 10 English Poem Haunted Houses from Treasure Chest (A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories) book. Get notes, summary of the poem followed by line by line explanation of the lesson along with the meanings of difficult words.


Haunted Houses ICSE Class 10 English 

By H.W. Longfellow


Haunted Houses Introduction


The poem wants the readers to go deep into the existence of ghosts and their purpose. They are harmless, unlike the common perception and they have their tasks. The poet takes the form of a speaker, perhaps a ghost himself who can see ghosts roaming in the houses where they once lived. He wants to give the indication that the dead remain with their dwelling places forever. The living world can also think that their beloved remains with them, maybe as ghosts. Perhaps, those whom we want to remain with us forever, remain with us as ghosts.


Theme of the Poem

The poet wants to convey that ghosts are harmless and they visit their dwelling places where they once lived as humans. Also, they remain with their beloved, forever.


Haunted Houses Summary

The speaker says that all houses are frequented by ghosts of those who were born there, lived there and died there. They enter through open doors and do their work while they move around lightly, without making any noise. The speaker comes across them at various places in the house – the stairs, the passage way and at the doors. They cannot be seen or heard but their impressions are there in the air. Even at dinner parties, there are more attendants than the people invited by the host. These are the ghosts that are present at the dinner table. Perhaps the speaker is a ghost because he can see other ghosts while the stranger sitting beside him, next to the fireplace can only see the present living world. The speaker is one of the ghosts and he says that the ghosts do not own the houses where they visit but they owned them when they were alive. Now they are buried and forgotten by their offsprings. So they stretch their hands to grab their houses back and they do not want to give them away to their descendents. The world of ghosts is like an atmosphere which is wrapped around the world of the living. The human life is full of desire to enjoy and achieve, this predicament gives a balance between input and output. The moonlight is like a bridge which connects the two worlds. At night time, the moonlight gives us dreams and imaginations which guide us to do the desired actions during the day.  


Haunted Houses Summary in Hindi

वक्ता का कहना है कि सभी घरों में उन लोगों के भूत अक्सर आते हैं जो वहां पैदा हुए, वहीं रहे और वहीं मर गए। वे खुले दरवाज़ों से प्रवेश करते हैं और बिना कोई शोर किये हल्के-हल्के घूमते हुए अपना काम करते हैं। वक्ता का सामना घर में विभिन्न स्थानों पर होता है – सीढ़ियों पर, आने-जाने के रास्ते पर और दरवाज़ों पर। उन्हें देखा या सुना नहीं जा सकता लेकिन उनकी छाप हवा में मौजूद है। यहां तक कि डिनर पार्टियों में भी मेजबान द्वारा आमंत्रित लोगों की तुलना में अधिक परिचारक होते हैं। ये वो भूत हैं जो खाने की मेज पर मौजूद होते हैं। शायद वक्ता एक भूत है क्योंकि वह अन्य भूतों को देख सकता है जबकि उसके बगल में, चिमनी के पास बैठा अजनबी केवल वर्तमान जीवित दुनिया को देख सकता है। वक्ता भूतों में से एक है और वह कहता है कि भूत उन घरों के मालिक नहीं होते जहां वे जाते हैं, लेकिन जब वे जीवित थे तो वे उन घरों के मालिक थे। अब उन्हें उनकी संतानों द्वारा दफना दिया गया है और भुला दिया गया है। इसलिए वे उनके घरों को वापस हड़पने के लिए हाथ फैलाते हैं और वे उन्हें अपने वंशजों को नहीं देना चाहते हैं। भूतों की दुनिया एक वातावरण की तरह है जो जीवित लोगों की दुनिया से लिपटी हुई है। मानव जीवन आनंद लेने और हासिल करने की इच्छा से भरा है, यह कठिन परिस्थिति इनपुट और आउटपुट के बीच संतुलन प्रदान करती है। चांदनी एक पुल की तरह है जो दो दुनियाओं को जोड़ती है। रात के समय चाँद की रोशनी हमें सपने और कल्पनाएँ देती है जो हमें दिन में वांछित कार्य करने के लिए मार्गदर्शन करती है।


Haunted Houses Poem Explanation

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

Word meanings:
Haunted: visited by ghosts
Phantoms: ghosts
Errands: tasks
Glide: move lightly and smoothly

The poet says that houses are dwelling places where men are born, they live and then, they die. He says that these houses are haunted by ghosts. These ghosts enter through the doors when they remain open. They move so lightly and smoothly that they do not make any noise. They are harmless ghosts who roam around doing their work.

We meet them at the door way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

Word meanings:
Impalpable: something or somebody that cannot be felt physically

He adds that they are present everywhere -at the door, on the stairs and they move through the passages. They cannot be touched or felt but their impressions remain in the air. One can feel the movement of something in the air.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

Word meanings:
Illuminated: lighted
Thronged: crowded
Inoffensive: harmless

He again insists on their presence at the dining table. The number of guests is more than the host has invited, the ghosts being the uninvited guests. The hall is well lit and is full of harmless ghosts who are silent. The poet compares them to the paintings on the wall to say that the ghosts are quiet in a similar manner.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

Word meanings:
Forms: shapes
Perceive: see

The poet says that there is a stranger sitting next to him by the fireplace. That person cannot see these ghostly forms nor can he hear the sounds that the poet can hear. The stranger can only see the living – the present while the potent can see everything from the past till date. Here, we get an indication that perhaps, the speaker is a ghost because he can see other ghosts while the stranger sitting next to him is a human.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

Word meanings:
Title-deeds: legal documents of ownership
Stretch: spread
Hold in mortmain: hold in inalienable possession

The ghosts do not own the houses at present but they owned them in the past, when they were alive. They are buried in the graves and have been forgotten by their descendants. Form these graves, they stretch out their hands which are full of dust where they lie. Their dusty hands still want to take over or possess these houses (properties) which they once owned. They want to possess them and do not want to give away these to their descendants.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapoursdense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Word meanings:
World of sense: real world that can be felt by the senses
Wafts: passes lightly
Vital: important
Ethereal air: other worldly atmosphere

There exists a world of the living. This world is surrounded by a world of the dead or the ghosts. This world of the ghosts is similar to the atmosphere which is prevalent everywhere. The world of the dead mingles lightly with the world of the living through the mist and dense vapours in the air. This world of the dead is an important part of the worldly atmosphere.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

Word meanings:
Equipoise: balance
Aspires: desires
Instinct: natural reaction
Noble: good, virtuous

There is a balance in our lives – between the desire to enjoy life and the more virtuous desire to achieve. So, this dilemma develops a balance in human life.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star,
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

Word meanings:
Perturbations: mental disturbances
Perpetual jar: here, immortal soul
Aspirations: aim, ambition

Human life is full of desires which lead to mental disturbance. We have desires and ambitions which make us sad. Our human mind and thought process is also controlled by a mysterious star, an unknown planet in the sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,-

Word meanings:
Planks: flat pieces of wood
Fancies: imaginations
Realm: region

The moonlight which travels from the moon to the earth is like a bridge of light. It trembles in the air and at night, during our dreams, it gives us imaginations which are the guiding factor for our actions.

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

Word meanings:
Descends: comes down
Unsteady: moving
Sways: moves from side to side
Abyss: bottomless hole or space

This moon light is a connection between the world of spirits and the world of the living. The bridge trembles and waivers and along with it, our thoughts also travel into mysterious regions. These great mysterious thoughts and ideas come to our mind in the form of dreams and guide us towards the actions and deeds.

Figures of Speech

1. Rhyme scheme abab
2. Enjambment When a sentence continues to the next line without use of any punctuation mark at the end of the line. The device of enjambment has been used at various instances in the poem.
3. Simile – Comparison between two things using ‘like’ or ‘as’.
inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.
The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere
4. Metaphor – an indirect comparison between the qualities of two things.
this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high
(here, the perpetual jar is used to denote the immortal soul)
So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
(here, the bridge of light is a mysterious bridge which connects the human world and the ghostly world)
5. Personification – when a human quality is attributed to a non human or object.
And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,
(here, the act of throwing personifies the moon)
6. Alliteration – The repetition of a consonant sound at the start of two or more consecutive words
Haunted houses
Little lives
7. Anaphora – when two or more consecutive lines start with the same word.
The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
8. Antithesis – when opposite words are closely placed.
lived and died
come and go
To and fro











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