Lazy and slow, through the snags and trees
Move the sluggish currents, half asleep;
Around and between the cypress knees,
Like black, slow snakes the dark tides creep-
How deep is the bayou beneath the trees?
Croaks the big bullfrog of Reelfoot Lake
From his hiding-place in the draggled brake.

What is the secret the slim reeds know
That makes them to shake and to shiver so,
And the scared flags quiver from plume to foot?-
The frogs pipe solemnly, deep and slow:
“Look under
the root!
Look under
the root!”

The hoarse frog croaks and the stark owl hoots
Of a mystery moored in the cypress roots.

Was it love turned hate? Was it friend turned foe?
Only the frogs and the gray owl know,
For the white moon shrouded her face in a mist
At the spurt of a pistol, red and bright-
At the sound of a shriek that stabbed the night-
And the little reeds were frightened and whist;
But always the eddies whimper and choke,
And the frogs would tell if they could, for they
“Deep, deep!
Deep, deep!
And the dark tide slides and glisters and glides
Snakelike over the secret it hides.