I heard a tree to its sole self complain,
Amid whose boughs of rust and scarlet stain
The solemn sunshine poured its golden rain.
Strange as the mournful sounds that steal through sleep,
As if a mist should strive in dews to weep,
The low, sad cadence past my sense did creep.
"Ah! Little, tender, dancing leaves, that first
Out of my sere and wintry branches did burst,
With mildest showers and April sunshine nurst;
"More verdant garlands, fresh with life and June,
Wherein the light winds played a fairy tune,
And set them glittering to the quiet moon;
"Then in their prime, the thick, green, summer leaves,
Lost in whose rustling depth the cricket grieves,
Or the quaint spider radiant tracery weaves,
"Swift ye forsake, slow fluttering to the ground,
These desolate boughs, no more with glory crowned,
Where every rain may breathe its sighing sound.
"One, and another, and another yet,
No time for grief to ripen to regret,
Full on my brow stands the sharp coronet.
"Did the cold terror, curdling at my heart,
Strike sudden death, and force your clasp apart,
I too were all too chill to feel ye part,
"But warm and fierce the vital torrent flows,
As keener thorns surround the brightest rose,
Death's bitterest draught life's ardor only knows."