There is a pun of the title "Neutral Tones": one means the colors in this poem are dull, such as the white and gray colors; the other means the tone is monotonous. The tone is quite flat and the structure of the four stanzas is similar to each other (each stanza has four sentences). In short, this is not a lively, vigorous and vivid poem.
It was a winter day in the poem. My first impression of winter is cold, dim, dusky and lifeless. I think it echoed to the author's inside feeling. He felt down and his heart became as freezing as winter. In the first stanza, he stood by a pond instead of laying by a lake. It seems that he didn't feel relaxed or released and his thoughts was in a mess. Also a pond is muddier than a lake, it quite corresponded to his thoughts. The third sentence of first stanza means that he was lonely, solitary and isolated (a few leaves) and yearned for love but couldn't reach it (starving sod). The word "ash" also has a pun: one is the name of tree; the other is the powder after burning. I agree and prefer the later, because this definition more corresponds to the meaning of this poem. It seems that after their love has kindled, it left nothing but only ashes. The second and third stanza reveals his feeling about the girl. "Your eyes on meˇK.years ago." compared her eyes to tedious and old riddles. He thought she was as boring as those weary riddles. And their words between them was not congenial with each other any more. "The smileˇK to die." Her smile no more be attractive to him. In the last stanza, he said this love was a keen lesson for him. He realized that love is a lie, a fib and a falsity. It's a negative imagine, I think.
This poem tried to express hoe he felt when he was disappointed in a love affair. I think the middle two stanzas are so cruel but they completely shows the reality. I like the way he described.