Come! look in the shadowy water here,
The stagnant water of Ashly Mere:
Where the stirless depths are dark but clear,
What is the thing that lies there?
A lily-pod half sunk from sight?
Or spawn of the toad all water-white?
Or ashen blur of the moon's wan light?
Or a woman's face and eyes there?

Now lean to the water a listening ear,
The haunted water of Ashly Mere:
What is the sound that you seem to hear
In the ghostly hush of the deeps there?
A withered reed that the ripple lips?
Or a night-bird's wing that the surface whips?
Or the rain in a leaf that drips and drips?
Or a woman's voice that weeps there?

Now look and listen! but draw not near
The lonely water of Ashly Mere!
For so it happens this time each year
As you lean by the mere and listen:
And the moaning voice I understand,
For oft I have watched it draw to land,
And lift from the water a ghastly hand
And a face whose eyeballs glisten.

And this is the reason why every year
To the hideous water of Ashly Mere
I come when the woodland leaves are sear,
And the autumn moon hangs hoary:
For here by the mere was wrought a wrong ...
But the old, old story is over long
And woman is weak and man is strong ...
And the mere's and mine is the story.