by Robert Laurence Binyon

Laurence Binyon

Is it joy, or is it peace,
Senses' magical release,
That triumphant swells my heart
Where I walk the fields apart?
Miracle of morning new!
Meadows dabbled fresh in dew;
Straight--stemmed woods that darkly still
Stand upon the rounded hill,
Where the silver saplings gleam
On the edges of a dream;
Mists that in faint fleeces blur
All the frayed plumes of the fir,
And that whiten the fresh green
Of the bosomed field between,
Melted ever more and more
By the level beams that pour
Sparkling through the sleepy, rare,
Delicately coloured air;
Flowers that wake from peace to peace;
Subtle--scented loneliness;
World that drenches through and through
A stillness exquisite as dew;
Ploughman ploughing nigh at hand
Along the open hazy land,
Calm as though a part of those
Brown furrows over which he goes:--
O what fount is it in me
All this solitude sets free?
Far from miseries, that dart
Pangs of pity at the heart,
Far from prisoning tasks that hide
The vision true of freedom wide,
Through a melting curtain clear
The stir of spring I see and hear:
Softly the young beams surprise
My own spirit's mysteries,
And my still thought, scarce aware,
Mingles into radiant air.
Now my eyes I cast around
On an unsubstantial ground:
As I gaze, I seem to grow
Into Earth, her longing know,
Feel the swelling of the bud
Quicken warm within my blood;
And the grasses shooting higher
Are a wave of my desire.
Deep and deeper sinks my mind
To a charm intense resigned,
Deep into the grain of things
Dissolved with its imaginings.
Now the ploughman ploughs, as he
Furrowed lines of destiny:
Now the oak his shadow due
Claims as if from earth it grew,
Not by casual beams of day
Given, and then stolen away.
I too from Time's ample womb
Summon my appointed doom,
And conjure the hours to bring
Each its rapture, each its sting.
In a vista long appears
The close--peopled street of years.
There the hands that I shall clasp
Are stretched out, my own to grasp.
Ready in my heart the throe
Burns for each awaiting woe.
Sorrow with her silent spade
Graves for unborn hopes hath made.
Joy about me glides her arm
Ignorant of grief and harm,
Like a child that only knows
Where 'tis loved and thither goes.
Onward on the path begun
I perceive my footsteps run,
Yet backward stretching all I find
In the mirror of my mind;
In a hundred sleeps behold
My own face becoming old;
And inaudibly drawn near
Death has whispered in my ear.

Last updated January 14, 2019