by Robert Laurence Binyon
The Genius of an hour that fading day
Resigned to wide--haired Night's impending brow
Stole me apart, I knew not where nor how,
And from my sense ravished the world away.
Rose in my view a visionary ground,
A rugged plain, beneath uncoloured skies.
There slowly in the midst without a sound
Upheaved a motion as of birth. I gazed,
When lo! a head, with upcast empty eyes
And semblance of dead shoulders' majesties,
Whose fleshless arms a marble breast upraised.
But even as this emerged, nor yet was free,
Behold it ripen into bloom and form,
The shrunk limbs round and into colour warm,
The hair spring new as leaves upon a tree,
And curl like small flames round the forehead fair.
At last the eyelids open wide: it seems
A glorious--statured youth that wakens there,
Casting his eyes in wonder down, to feel
This body that with clear blood newly teems,
How perfect, yet still heavy as from dreams,
And over it the ancient beauty steal.
O lost in musing recollection sweet,
What summoning cry thine age--long slumber stirred?
In that profound grave has thy cold ear heard
From heaven the mailed Archangel call, whose feet
Stand planted in the stream of stars, and whose
Time--shattering trump hath pealed to the world's core?
Yet still doth thy averted head refuse
To lift its eyes up; still thy spread hands lean
On earth, while pensive thou surveyest o'er
This radiant shape that all thy sorrows bore,
Strong now as if no pain had ever been.
What thoughts begin to glide upon thy brain,
And part thy lips with sighs? Is it some fear
'Mid flattering heavenly airs approaching near
This strange unproven peace to entertain?
Musing, ``O rebel flesh, in my hard need
How often didst thou fail me! I know well
How thou didst make me suffer toil and bleed,
At once my prison and my enemy.
Dear body, I fear thee yet: dark rages dwell
Within thee: how shalt thou in peace excel?
How learn to bear perfect felicity?''
Nay, rather that fond wonder in thy look
Is wonder to have lost the thoughts that maim,
The wounds of evilly--invented shame
And fear that each sweet impulse overtook.
Now thou art free, and all thy being whole,
Perceivest in that peril--haunted earth
The fair and primal gestures of thy soul,
And knowest how all thy full completion fed,
The urging hungers, the sun--sweetened mirth;
Yea, finding even in those furies worth,
Which lacking, hardly art thou perfected.
What trees are these whose dim young branches rise
Above thee? Springing waters freshen sweet
New tender green for thee to pace and greet
The growing of the dawn of Paradise.
Thou gazest round thee with a listening face,
Hearkening perhaps to some far--floating song
Unheard of men. Ah, go not ere thy grace,
O glorified, of me be throughly learned!
But as I prayed in supplication strong
The vision faded, and the world, whose wrong
Mocks holy beauty and our desire, returned.
Last updated January 14, 2019