by Robert Laurence Binyon
By the warm road--side, where chestnut and thorn
The brightness shaded, supine, at ease,
A felon, freed that morn,
Lay idle, and wondered, gazing up through the trees.
O strange no more to be one of a band
Numbered and known; to lose the measure
Of day divided and planned:
To think for the morrow, to choose work or pleasure.
His ear the jostling roar of the street
Amazed: he felt the crowd like a load;
And welcomed, refuge sweet,
Deserted suburb and silent shady road.
For now, with his hands habitual stones
Of the pavement he touched: close to the wall
He nestled, and felt to his bones
The warmth, and the shadow cool on his forehead fall.
And catching a leaf from the chestnut strayed,
He held it, glowing green in the light,
Transparent, with veins inlaid;
And thrust the world and its vastness away from sight.
Children from school, as they passed him, eyed
His shorn temples, and whispering turned
To mock him: he on his side,
Abstracted, his limbs disposed to a slumber earned.
A grave citizen, homeward bound,
Perceived him, as negligent still he lay,
And swerved askance, and frowned,
And crossed to the opposite pavement and went his way.
But warming him shone the indifferent noon;
And chestnut and thorn on his sleeping head
In the careless glory of June
Scattered their delicate blossom of white and red.
Last updated January 14, 2019