by Robert Laurence Binyon
The little waves fall in the wintry light
On idle sands along the bitter shore.
The piling clouds are all a pale suspended flight;
They tarry and are moved no more.
Thin rushes tremble about the naked dune;
A hovering sail sinks down the utmost sea;
With wreckage and old foam the unending sands are strewn;
And the waves heap their dumbness over me.
This is the earth that lasts beyond our dreams
Of time, and rushing onward without rest,
Deludes us with her trancing silences, yet teems
Fiercely, and burns within her breast,
Insatiate of youth, this old, old Earth,
Who uses our spent ashes for her need,
Shaping the delicate marvel of her youngest birth,
And still she kindles a new seed,
Intent on the unborn creature of her thought
And busy in the waste: O even here,
Though masked as in a calm of dumb frustration, naught
Stays her, no pang nor any fear,
But subtly, with a touch invisible,
She is changing and compelling; and me too,
Me too, upon the secret stream of that deep will
She moves to a destiny ever new.
And yet this hour my spirit hides its face,
And, backward turned, sighs out an idle pain
For the remembered paths these feet may not retrace
And the hours that cannot come again.
O hours of heavenly madness in delight
That felt the swiftness and the throb of wings,
That stole the burning soul of naked summer night
And the moons of the perfumed springs,
Not now to you my longing stretches hands,
But to lost hours, that had no fruit, no seed.
Like fading of low light beyond forgotten lands,
They have passed and are dead indeed.
And once, for once, unrecking Earth, you seem
With me to linger and to acquiesce,
To share the desolation of my doubt and dream,
And to ponder upon barrenness.
The wind lulls on the waste, and has no will.
The foiled tides hush and falter at their bound,
A little sand is blown, then all again is still;
And the clouds hang their silence around,
With such an absence felt in the lone skies,
Suppression of such tears, profoundly sprung
In long--remembering looks of unconversing eyes,
As when the old bury the young.
Last updated January 14, 2019