Chateau Gaillard

by Robert Laurence Binyon

Laurence Binyon

Shattered tower and desolated keep
Darken; far below the river shines
Under cliffs that round the twilight sweep,
Rock--rough headlands on the sky's confines
Couch asleep.
Silence breathes; the air colours; dewy smell
Freshens keener from the grass; a hush
Deepens on some distant evening bell.
Burning out of heaven the solemn flush
Spins a spell:
Sharpens every shadowy edge of stone;
Notches gaps abrupt; drains pale the light;
Blackens gulfs of fosse, where mounds enthrone
What were towers. The ruin to soft night
Looms alone.
Lo, it lives! Now like a terrible thought
Seems it. A man's strength, how frail beside
Yonder strength! Could hands of flesh have wrought
Such a thing? Mere ashes they that cried,
They that fought,
Where the little poppy spots with red
Crumbling bastions; dust of centuries, all
Those strong feet that over heaps of dead
Leapt, and hands that furious clutched the wall,
Breasts that bled.
Yet a presence, yet a power is here,
In the darkening silence slowly felt,
Silence that is naked and is near.
Into cloud those battle rages melt;
But a fear
Strikes from where these pressing stones conspire
Toward a purpose past the strength of each,
As a man's deeds knit by one desire,
As a great verse out of casual speech
Forged in fire.
Stones no longer, having filled their place!
Nay, though tumbled, torn, and cast aside,
Touched with glory Time cannot deface:
In such wreck, Man, scarred and glorified,
Builds his race.
Lion--Heart, thou buildest not in vain,
Lion--Heart, that in our own blood still
Beatest: rent but royal over Seine
This the embattled proud child of thy will
Shall remain!

Last updated January 14, 2019