This is the first mention of the speaker directing his words to someone else in the poem and not only to the readers. When he says, “your eyes on me were as eyes that rove” (5), he suggests that the person he was talking did not look at him with great importance. She might have been roving for something better to look at or maybe she already found another lover. Whatever her intent was, it revealed to the speaker that she no longer loved him like she used to. The next line discusses their relationship in greater detail, showing that it had lasted for years and was filled with questions and unclear discussions. In this stanza, the speaker also mentions how although he did at times love her, he believed he never completely understood her.
The next stanza explains why the lover’s relationship ended up failing. The speaker says, “the smile on your mouth was the deadest thing” (9), showing that she didn’t produce any affection towards him, not even a smile. The speaker realizes that her love for him was but a small flicker of light, only “alive enough to have strength to die” (10). He also understands that she felt the same way about him, saying that she had, “a grin of bitterness… / like an ominous bird” (11-12). Their misunderstanding was two-sided with neither of them fully connecting and she even seemed to hold him with contempt.
The final stanza shows that some time has past since the encounter on the winter day. The speaker notes that he has learned some “keen lessons” (13) about love and how it deceives. He makes a very important statement when talking about the effects of his relationship, saying that love, “wrings with wrong” (14). The speaker uses the word “wring” instead of “ring,” because he wants his readers to understand that he believes love comes with a great cost. He goes on to recall the woman’s face, the “God cursed” sun, and the pond that was “edged with grayish leaves” (16). This final line is connect with the title because it describes the leaves as being grayish, resembling a neutral tone. This color choice reflects both the tone of the story and his feelings towards love. He feels hurt and deceived by love and writes this poem almost as a warning for his readers to show that love can be disastrous.