Because I am old and refuse my death I have been bitter and I've been kind; Skeletal bitterness my enmities shook, Kindness flowed from head to foot. But of all those wind-gaunt faces I have worn as if strapped in the traces I most adore the look Of an old withered apple, its withdrawn glance, All sweetness concentrated To an unrelenting taste: An old bitten rind, bitten rind. But because I am bitter And dislike the taste Of joys overblown in any wind I have come to sing in the waste Of an old bitten rind: "Bitten rind, bitten time, Under stars or under sky The right emotion of a dirty crook Has nobleness to bless or curse, Confirm or rescind the pledge Made by our bodies as they lie Under this dirty hedge." An old bitten rind, bitten rind. Having tasted thus The fruit of an obscure look Or the sharp meaning of a song Under dull words in a book I laugh at all awhile And I myself forsake; For nothing's worth the riddle And no man's worth his wake, I stole a blind man's fiddle And sing what I forsake. An old bitten rind, bitten rind. I have nothing but am a queen: Monstrosities sworn must heel Forced by a hand unseen As dog to its master's whistle wheels. And although I am a great queen With stars on my fingers for rings And although I dance like a drunk And with the seen and unseen wink I am driven by passion to sing: An old bitten rind, bitten rind.