I measure myself in lines of poetry,
and some seasons I don’t amount to much.
If poems were leaves and I a tree,
I’d be a sorry, patchy thing,
full of bursting, sun-bleached buds
with a dry pile ready for the fire at my feet.
And a passer-by might ask himself
(or another with whom he wandered the yard)
if this blasted thing were a tree at all
or something only trying to be;
and should they cut me down and count my rings
they’d find me older than some sprouting trees
that blossom always in the early spring—
but though my rings be many and my leaves be few,
I mean to see this winter through.


Across the pond the willow tree
in gentle swaying majesty
tosses her lengthy locks of hair
in the breeze that sings through the morning air.
She fixes a bird on her head like a pin,
and, when the water is still as a glass, gazes in.
Then, lest she should err, I wander around
to the shore where she stands on the uneven ground
and tell her such measures are not to be borne,
for the willow tree’s beauty looks best unadorned.