Leah Fox’s Hallowed Ground

Ann Leah (Fox Fish) Underhill.  The Missing Link in Modern Spiritualism.  New York: Thomas R. Knox & Co., 1885.  415-420.

The following is a beautiful and curious experience which came one evening at Rochester, in the early days of our mediumship:

Maggie and I were sitting alone in my cozy little parlor in Troup Street, enjoying ourselves by a warm fire while the pouring rain and howling winds outside assured us that we should not be interrupted by callers.  I was reading “Memoirs of the Wesley Family,” when the alphabet was called for by the usual signal.  I repeated the letters as they came through the alphabet, and wrote them as designated successively by the Spirit, viz.:


These letters could not, of course, be construed into words, and I cast them aside saying, “This must be the Spirit of Johnny Story,” a simple boy whom we had known when living, who could never be taught to read.  The alphabet was again called for and the message given by the Spirit was, “Apply the letters to your piano.”

On doing so I recognized in them, to my surprise and delight, a sweet and tender melody.  I was then told to set the music to “Haunted Ground” in Mrs. [Felicia] Hemans’s Poems, but with the variation of changing “Haunted” to “Hallowed” in the last verse.

Professor J. J. Watson has kindly arranged the accompaniment for the organ and piano, as on the next page.

I have always considered this one of the most beautiful and interesting tests I have ever received.  It certainly was not mind-reading.  The letters as given had of course conveyed no sense to me, nor any idea of musical notes.  In connection with the music thus given for the poem with its altered name, I presume that it is proper to reproduce the poem itself.


And slight, withal, may be the things which bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside forever—it may be a sound,
A tone of music, summer eve, or spring,
A flower—the wind—the ocean—which shall wound
Striking the electric chain, wherewith we are darkly bound.


“The Haunted Ground,” arranged for piano by J. Jay Watson.



Verse 3.

Have I not lived ‘midst these lonely dells,
And loved, and sorrowed, and heard farewells,
And learn’d in my own deep soul to look,
And tremble before that mysterious book?

Have I not, under these whispering leaves,
Woven such dreams as the young heart weaves?
Shadows—yet unto which life seemed bound,
And is it not—is it not haunted ground?

Must I not hear what thou hearest not,
Troubling the air of this sunny spot?
Is there not something to none but me
Told by the rustling of every tree?

Song hath been here—with its flow of thought,
Love—with its passionate visions fraught;
Death—breathing stillness and sadness round—
And is it not—is it not haunted ground?

Are there no phantoms, but such as come
By night from the darkness that wraps the tomb?—
A sound, a scent, or a whispering breeze
Can summon up mightier far than these!

But I may not linger amidst them here!
Lovely they are, and yet things to fear;
Passing and leaving a weight behind,
And a thrill on the chords of the stricken mind.

Away, away, that my soul may soar,
As a free bird of blue skies once more,
Here from its wing it may never cast
The chain by those Spirits brought back from the past.

Doubt it not—smile not—but go thou, too,
Look on the scenes where thy childhood grew—
Where thou has prayed at thy mother’s knee,
Where thou has roved with thy brethren free;

Go thou, when life unto thee is changed,
Friends thou has loved as thy soul, estranged;
When from the idols thy heart hath made,
Thou hast seen the colors of glory fade;

Oh! painfully then, by the wind’s low sigh,
By the voice of the stream, by the flower-cup’s dye,
By a thousand tokens of sight and sound,
Thou wilt feel thou art treading on hallowed ground.


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