August Afternoon

by Robert Laurence Binyon

Laurence Binyon

Thump of a horse's hoof behind the hedge;
Long stripes of shadow, and green flame in the grass
Between them; discrowned, glaucous poppy--pods
On their tall stalks; a rose
With its great thorns blood--red in the slant light;
Round apples swelling on the apple--boughs:--
Over these, over the rich quiet, comes
Out of no--where a 'plane in the high blue
Driving its angry furrow across the sky,
Outstrips the slow clouds, throbs, an urgent roar,
Right overhead, and fiercely vanishes.
The quiet has become strange. Like from pools
A noiseless water issuing, memories,
Surmises, apprehensions, traceless thoughts,
Glide with brief visions on the mind, drifting
From shadow into shadow; and then a pang
Sudden as when a meteor scars the night:
See where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
Dead faces of the young, that see nothing...
The unknown wounds, everywhere, everywhere...
And then from the inner to the outer sense
Returns the sun--warm quiet on the grass,
The poppy charged with sleep, the red, red thorns,
The stamping of the horse behind the hedge,
The strong slow patience of the living earth
And the apple ripening on the apple--tree
Almost as if I felt it in my flesh.

Last updated January 14, 2019