The trees stand by the river
like ghosts of long-dead girls,
withered are the garlands
and all the curls;
gone is their coloured mesh
of loveliness; no leaf falls;
winter has scattered their flesh
and their pretty faces are skulls.
O men, why mourn ye the dead,
and seal them in quiet tomb?
Earth, the eternal mother, wears
no sorrow, sheds no tears
for the children of her womb:
fruit and berry and fallen leaf
moulder where they lie;
and if there comes a whisper of grief
and a thin music shaking
the brittle bones of the poplar tree,
it is no dirge of a mother's making
but only the wind's sigh.