There were four apples on the bough, Half gold half red, that one might know The blood was ripe inside the core; The colour of the leaves was more Like stems of yellow corn that grow Through all the gold June meadow’s floor. The warm smell of the fruit was good To feed on, and the split green wood, With all its bearded lips and stains Of mosses in the cloven veins, Most pleasant, if one lay or stood In sunshine or in happy rains. There were four apples on the tree, Red stained through gold, that all might see The sun went warm from core to rind; The green leaves made the summer blind In that soft place they kept for me With golden apples shut behind. The leaves caught gold across the sun, And where the bluest air begun, Thirsted for song to help the heat; As I to feel my lady’s feet Draw close before the day were done; Both lips grew dry with dreams of it. In the mute August afternoon They trembled to some undertune Of music in the silver air; Great pleasure was it to be there Till green turned duskier and the moon Coloured the corn-sheaves like gold hair. That August time it was delight To watch the red moons wane to white ’Twixt grey seamed stems of apple-trees; A sense of heavy harmonies Grew on the growth of patient night, More sweet than shapen music is. But some three hours before the moon The air, still eager from the noon, Flagged after heat, not wholly dead; Against the stem I leant my head; The colour soothed me like a tune, Green leaves all round the gold and red. I lay there till the warm smell grew More sharp, when flecks of yellow dew Between the round ripe leaves had blurred The rind with stain and wet; I heard A wind that blew and breathed and blew, Too weak to alter its one word. The wet leaves next the gentle fruit Felt smoother, and the brown tree-root Felt the mould warmer: I too felt (As water feels the slow gold melt Right through it when the day burns mute) The peace of time wherein love dwelt. There were four apples on the tree, Gold stained on red that all might see The sweet blood filled them to the core: The colour of her hair is more Like stems of fair faint gold, that be Mown from the harvest’s middle floor.
This poem is in the public domain.