by Robert Laurence Binyon
To whom but thee, my youth to dedicate,
My youth, which these few leaves have sought to save,
Should I now come, although I come too late,
Alas! and can but lay them on thy grave?
To whom but thee? From thee, I know, they stole
Their happier music, all their finer part:
O could they breathe but something of thy soul,
Something of thine incomparable heart!
What was there lovely, that thou didst not love?
What troubled spirit could ever grasp thy hand,
Nor know what answering springs within thee strove
To soothe his wound; to feel, to understand?
Too much hadst thou of pain, and fret, and care;
Yet surely thou wast meant for joy: to whom
Life, that had given thee days so hard to bear,
Could still yield moments of so rare a bloom.
That longing in me, which can never sleep,
To live my own life, to be bravely free,
What is that longing, but the passion deep,
The sweet endeavour, to be true to thee?
Still in my mind the solemn morning shines;
Still with me, all too clearly pictured, dwell
The day, the hour, with all their mournful signs,
When we bade thee, O friend of friends, farewell.
Austerely fair, the vast cathedral, filled
With February sunshine, marbles old,
Pillar on pillar, arch on arch revealed:
The light, the stillness, on my grief took hold;
Hushed within those gray walls, that could not change,
Where kneeling sorrow heavenly comfort hears;
Appeased by their eternal strength, that, strange
Itself to pain, permitted human tears.
There that worn heart, those arms in longing strained
Beyond, beyond, toward the unknown shore,
Entered repose, their long--loved peace attained.
Sweetly she sleeps. O shall we wish her more?
I climbed the high tower, up steep stairs of stone.
Under the clear sun plains without a wave,
Various and busy, in the morning shone:
The world about me, but below, thy grave.
White flowers marked it. Now, my flowers' poor grace
I bring, to bloom or fade; I little care,
Ah, let them fade, and die in that dear place!
It is enough, if they have faded there.
Last updated January 14, 2019