by Robert Laurence Binyon
If this were all!--A dream of dread
Ran through me; I watched the waves that fled
Pale--crested out of hollows black,
The hungry lift of helpless waves,
A million million tossing graves,
A wilderness without a track
Beneath the barren moon:
If this were all!
The stars of night remotely strewn
Looked on that restless heave and fall.
I seemed with them to watch this old
Bright planet through the ages rolled,
Self--tortured, burning splendours vain,
And fevered with its greeds insane,
And with the blood of peoples red;
I watched it, grown an ember cold,
Join in the dancing of the dead.
The chilly half--moon sank; the sound
Of naked surges roared around,
And through my heart the darkness poured
Surges as of a sea unshored.
O somewhere far and lost from light
Blind Europe battled in the night!
Then sudden through the darkness came
The vision of a child,
A child with feet as light as flame
Who ran across the bitter waves,
Across the tumbling of the graves--
With arms stretched out he smiled.
I drank the wine of life again,
I breathed among my brother men,
I felt the human fire.
I knew that I must serve the will
Of beauty and love and wisdom still;
Though all my hopes were overthrown,
Though universes turned to stone,
I have my being in this alone
And die in that desire.
Last updated January 14, 2019