On scorched and conflagrated sands,
In sapped and grudging desolation,
The solitary Upas stands Grim sentinel of all creation.
This thing was spawned one day of rage
From nature of the thirsting plain
That slaked the death-green foliage
And deep-set roots with sap of bane.
The venom oozes down the bark
Turned liquid in the midday blaze,
Congealing at the fall of dark
To clots of cruel, translucent glaze.
No tigers come, no birds alight.
None but the wind’s black breath will dare
Circle around that tree of blight
And leave with newly deadly air.
And, should an errant cloud imbue
With rain the rank leaves’ laden glands,
The branches drip a toxic dew
Onto incendiary sands.
But once a man dispatched a man With one dread glance to that dead waste And he obeyed. Away he ran
And brought the poison back with haste:
Its lethal sap, its waxen bough
And desiccated leaves. The sweat
Across his sallow, stricken brow
Ran in a chilling rivulet.
He brought it, stumbled and sprawled, prone
Beneath the tent for his reward: A poor slave’s death before the throne
Of his invulnerable lord.
And in that poison brew the Tsar
Dipped arrows under his command,
And loosed perdition near and far
On men of every neighboring land.
The Upas Tree - Alexander Pushkin