Down the beams of moonlight racing,
South the river’s waters tracing,
a starless sky,
the poet rowed to where you lie.
And the air through which he ferried,
Though in solemn silence buried,
a harrowed hue--
your skin’s unfeeling, icy blue.
Further down the river rowing,
When the shadows, steady growing,
and let a yell--
a hollow and ferocious knell.
As he docked, he feigned ignoring
Midnight’s low and distant roaring
So to see
the place where he
had planted you an elder tree.
But the stalking shadows waited
In the fruit the tree created,
And its thin
and azure skin
belied the sickness lain therein.
Heaven hung upon his shoulder,
All the living air grew colder
As he wept
and vigil kept
beside the river where you slept.
Through the dark the cry was sweeping
And the shadows, steady creeping,
Watched with glee
while stumbled he
beneath the poison elder tree.
Yielding to the haunted dirges
And his deepest human urges--
the heavens mute,
he bit the blue and bitter fruit.