I know it must be winter (though I sleep)— I know it must be winter, for I dream I dip my bare feet in the running stream, And flowers are many, and the grass grows deep. I know I must be old (how age deceives!) I know I must be old, for, all unseen, My heart grows young, as autumn fields grow green When late rains patter on the falling sheaves. I know I must be tired (and tired souls err)— I know I must be tired, for all my soul To deeds of daring beats a glad, faint roll, As storms the riven pine to music stir. I know I must be dying (Death draws near)— I know I must be dying, for I crave Life—life, strong life, and think not of the grave, And turf-bound silence, in the frosty year.
Each year I mark one lone outstanding tree,
Clad in its robings of the summer past,
Dry, wan, and shivering in the wintry blast.
It will not pay the season’s rightful fee,—
It will not set its frost-burnt leafage free;
But like some palsied miser all aghast,
Who hoards his sordid treasure to the last,
It sighs, it moans, it sings in eldritch glee.
A foolish tree, to dote on summers gone;
A faithless tree, that never feels how spring
Creeps up the world to make a leafy dawn,
And recompense for all despoilment bring!
Oh, let me not, heyday and youth withdrawn,
With failing hands to their vain semblance cling!