I stood at dusk and looked around the garden small and dim;
the fountain dry was cracked, with dust and vines around the rim.
The roses dead were long and spare, the weeds were rising high;
then ghosts from ancient worlds arose and said that I would die.
In long and spectral robes they swept along the garden ways
and sang the songs no longer sung, the songs of distant days.
A Templar march I thought I heard, a troubadour's sad plea,
a hymn of love to loves long gone, a shanty rasped at sea.
Like breezes drifting, softly sped those tunes, like secret sigh.
And 'midst it all a whisper sang; it sang that I would die.
The darkness fell, it drifted down, a-float like falling shawl;
it settled over roses dead and draped across the wall.
I strained my ears to hear again that gently whispered word,
but silence through the darkness fell, so nothing then was heard,
and nothing felt by rising hairs, and nothing met my eye,
until at midnight down the way I heard that I would die.
A maiden walked like water's wave along the crumbling wall
and here and there an elegy from out her lips would fall.
A hint, a clue, a fragile thread, the song would drift my way
with meaning barely out of reach and sense just out of play,
but here and there it rose to reach the keen of sobbing cry,
and then no doubt remained at all: it said that I would die.
The moon was silver on the road, but stars were hid by clouds
that, dark and thunder-mutter-thick, were gathered up in crowds
like ghosts in endless number in some graveyard in the sky,
and somehow in the thunder's tones I heard that I would die.
On far and distant hills the wolves began to raise a howl
and down the moonlit road I saw a figure in a cowl
as black as night in color so that scarce could seeing see
where ended figure and the night; it clearly came for me,
and in its hand a scythe was held, that swept through air with ease,
and at its heels a hound did walk, as pale as death's disease.
The crows in murder raised their wings, all croaking out a cry,
and clear I heard it in their noise: they said that I would die.
The wind was blowing in the leaves and rustled roses dead
and mingled with the panic that was buzzing in my head,
till time itself with nausea was turned upon its ear
and death itself was manifest to brain enmeshed in fear.
I sought to turn, like trembling bird in pit I sought to fly,
but dizzy chills sped up my spine that said that I would die.
A hand was clamped upon my mouth; I could not scream or cry;
a voice was snarling in my ear, and told me I would die.