There were four apples on the bough,

Half gold half red, that one might know

The blood was ripe inside the core;

The colour of the leaves was more

Like stems of yellow corn that grow

Through all the gold June meadow’s floor.

The warm smell of the fruit was good

To feed on, and the split green wood,

With all its bearded lips and stains


Of mosses in the cloven veins,

Most pleasant, if one lay or stood

In sunshine or in happy rains.

There were four apples on the tree,

Red stained through gold, that all might see

The sun went warm from core to rind;

The green leaves made the summer blind

In that soft place they kept for me

With golden apples shut behind.

The leaves caught gold across the sun,


And where the bluest air begun

Thirsted for song to help the heat;

As I to feel my lady’s feet

Draw close before the day were done;

Both lips grew dry with dreams of it.

In the mute August afternoon

They trembled to some undertune

Of music in the silver air;

Great pleasure was it to be there

Till green turned duskier and the moon


Coloured the corn-sheaves like gold hair.

That August time it was delight

To watch the red moons wane to white

’Twixt grey seamed stems of apple-trees;

A sense of heavy harmonies

Grew on the growth of patient night,

More sweet than shapen music is.

But some three hours before the moon

The air, still eager from the noon,

Flagged after heat, not wholly dead;


Against the stem I leant my head;

The colour soothed me like a tune,

Green leaves all round the gold and red.

I lay there till the warm smell grew

More sharp, when flecks of yellow dew

Between the round ripe leaves had blurred

The rind with stain and wet; I heard

A wind that blew and breathed and blew,

Too weak to alter its one word.

The wet leaves next the gentle fruit


Felt smoother, and the brown tree-root

Felt the mould warmer: I too felt

(As water feels the slow gold melt

Right through it when the day burns mute)

The peace of time wherein love dwelt.

There were four apples on the tree,

Gold stained on red that all might see

The sweet blood filled them to the core:

The colour of her hair is more

Like stems of fair faint gold, that be


Mown from the harvest’s middle floor.