The Distant Guns

by Robert Laurence Binyon

Laurence Binyon

Negligently the cart--track descends into the valley;
The drench of the rain has passed and the clover breathes;
Scents are abroad; in the valley a mist whitens
Along the hidden river, where the evening smiles.
The trees are asleep, their shadows are longer and longer,
Melting blue in the tender twilight; above,
In a pallor, barred with lilac and ashen cloud,
Delicate as a spirit the young moon brightens,
And distant a bell intones the hour of peace,
Where roofs of the village, gray and red, cluster
In leafy dimness. Peace, old as the world!
The crickets shrilling in the high wet grass,
And gnats, clouding upon the frail wild roses,
Murmur of you: but hark! like a shudder upon the air,
Ominous and alien, knocking on the farther hills
As with airy hammers, the ghosts of terrible sound,--
Guns! From afar they are knocking on human hearts
Everywhere over the silent evening country,
Knocking with fear and dark presentiment. Only
The moon's beauty, where no life nor joy is,
Brightening softly and knowing nothing, has peace.

Last updated January 14, 2019