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Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

II. The Children of the Night

18. The Pity of the Leaves

VENGEFUL across the cold November moors,

Loud with ancestral shame there came the bleak

Sad wind that shrieked, and answered with a shriek,

Reverberant through lonely corridors.

The old man heard it; and he heard, perforce,

Words out of lips that were no more to speak—

Words of the past that shook the old man’s cheek

Like dead, remembered footsteps on old floors.

And then there were the leaves that plagued him so!

The brown, thin leaves that on the stones outside

Skipped with a freezing whisper. Now and then

They stopped, and stayed there—just to let him know

How dead they were; but if the old man cried,

They fluttered off like withered souls of men.