by Robert Laurence Binyon

Laurence Binyon

Coiled in shadow, the serpent seas
Engirdle perilous hills sublime:
By tortuous, steep degrees
Toward the morn I climb.
Before me the mountain soaring vast
Secludes the bright east; cold the air
Descends from ridges, massed
In peaks, snowily fair.
But pale in the northern distance blushes
On sparkling ranges a light austere;
Tingeing the shade, it flushes
Edge and barrier sheer.
Cattaro roofs and Cattaro quay
Grow faint and delicate; ships that ride
On the dense blue slumbering sea
Dwindle; on either side
From mirroring gulfs the mountains bare
Are mapped to the heaven, strange as a dream;
The Adriatic afar
Trembles, a molten gleam:
Till the sun salutes me, met with him
On the naked summit; closed behind,
That vision of countries dim
Pales and fades from the mind.
Now drinking the eager lofty air,
The spirit leaps, as the eyes behold
Valleys severely fair,
Freedom's fortress of old.
Young, stern soldiers in rich attire,
Haughtily moving with silent pace
And eyes of a tranquil fire;
Sons of a tameless race;
Aged mothers, bowed with toil,
Old men, bearded and gray, are here.
Plants of a stubborn soil
That knows not the seed of fear.
O Mountain, mother of men, that bearest
Heroes; foster--mother of fame!
I hail thee; well thou wearest
Thy dark, invincible name.
Thou plantest the footstep firm, and the heart
In the breast strengthenest, hardy to try
Peril, and play its part
With full, unwavering eye.
At mighty breasts of the ancient hills
Nourished, thy sons in their veins yet keep
The force that feeds and fills
Torrents, to dance and leap.
Trees that with clenchéd root possess
Their rocky beds, oak and pine,
Alone thou endurest; nor less
Permittest in children of thine.

Last updated January 14, 2019