This poem is about the speaker's sad memory. The speaker is mourning his past love. He expresses his feelings through describing lots of images. In the first stanza, he is memorizing the scene that he and his lover being together. The scene should have been very romantic and beautiful in his memory but the beauty disappeared after they broke up. The pond, the sun and the falling leaves that were very romantic looks so ironical now. That was a cold winter day. If there was sunlight it should have been warm. While everything changed when he wasn't in a good mood. "And the sun was white, as though chidden of God/ And a few leaves lay on the starving sod. I don't know why is " starving" but it makes me think about muddy sod that has some kind of magnetic power. This scene that the two lines describe makes me think about the movies: the sunlight is strange and a few dry leaves lay on the manless grass, which makes the atmosphere weird. The sunlight is from the heaven so it seems to be God's cursed. The speaker uses some words of bad meanings, such as chidden, starving and gray. The desolate scene seemed to prophesy their bad luck.
In the second stanza, the speaker doesn't describe object but turn to he and his lover's relation in direct. " Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove/ Over tedious riddles solved years ago/The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing/ Alive enough to have strength to die." It seems that the woman doesn't have feelings towards him and she might desert him. He feels that she betrayed him and can hardly be over her. "On which lost the more by our love/And a grin of bitterness swept thereby/Like an ominous bird a-wingˇK" Possibly these are his feelings afterwards and he experienced the cruel side of love. I think the words like tedious riddles, deadest thing, grin of bitterness and ominous bird are hints that reveal the speaker's distrust of love. Why does the speaker tell his past experience? Maybe he still loves her but hates her doing. Therefore he grumbles and memorizes in a complaining tone. I think that maybe he wants to warn us the readers to be cautious of the impermanence of love .The last stanza is about the " keen lessons " and is the saddest part. In this stanza, some objects appearing in previous stanzas become the symbol of hate or anguish. "And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me" Here I don't understand what "wrings with wrong" is. But I think the face, the sun, the tree, the pond and the leaves become the source of pain. When he sees( or memorize) the scenery he will recall her disloyalty of love.
About this poem, I don't understand why the topic is " Neutral Tones" because I don't see any neutral point. Maybe the writer did it purposely. I think the whole poem is the speaker's memory. Through those images, he expressed his pain. I think the pond scene is the start and then brings out other images. Those concrete objects like the sun , the tree and so on remind him of this unpleasant affair. Maybe they are the " keen lessons."