by Robert Laurence Binyon
Destiny drives a crooked plough
And sows a careless seed;
Now through a heart she cuts, and now
She helps a helpless need.
To--night from London's roaring sea
She brings a girl and boy;
For two hearts used to misery,
Opens a door of joy.
Wandering from hateful homes they came,
Till by this fate they meet.
Then out of ashes springs a flame;
Suddenly life is sweet.
Together, where the city ends,
And looks on Thames's stream,
That under Surrey willows bends
And floats into a dream,
Softly in one another's ear
They murmur childish speech;
Love that is deeper and more dear
For words it cannot reach.
Above them the June night is still:
Only with sighs half--heard
Dark leaves above them flutter and thrill,
As with their longing stirred;
And by the old brick wall below
Rustling, the river glides;
Like their full hearts, that deeply glow,
Is the swell of his full tides.
To the farther shore the girl's pale brow
Turns with desiring eyes:
``Annie, what is it you're wishing now?''
She lifts her head and sighs.
``Willie, how peaceful 'tis and soft
Across the water! See,
The trees are sleeping, and stars aloft
Beckon to you and me.
I think it must be good to walk
In the fields, and have no care;
With trees and not with men to talk.
O, Willie, take me there!''
Now hand in hand up to the Night
They gaze; and she looks down
With large mild eyes of grave delight,
The mother they have not known.
Older than sorrow she appears,
Yet than themselves more young;
She understood their childish tears,
Knew how their love was sprung.
The simple perfume of the grass
Comes to them like a call.
Obeying in a dream they pass
Along the old brick wall;
By flickering lamp and shadowy door,
Across the muddy creek,
Warm with their joy to the heart's core,
With joy afraid to speak.
At last the open road they gain,
And by the Bridge, that looms
With giant arch and sloping chain
Over the river's glooms,
They pause: above, the northern skies
Are pale with a furnace light.
London with upcast, sleepless eyes
Possesses the brief night.
The wind flaps in the lamp; and hark!
A noise of wheels, that come
At drowsy pace; along the dark
A waggon lumbers home.
Slow--footed, with a weary ease,
The patient horses step;
The rein relaxed upon his knees,
The waggoner nods asleep.
``Annie, it goes the country way,
'Tis meant for me and you:
It goes to fields, and trees, and hay,
Come, it shall take us too!''
He lifts her in his arms, as past
The great wheels groaning ride,
And on the straw he sets her fast,
And lightly climbs beside.
The waggoner nods his drowsy head,
He hears no sound: awhile
Softly they listen in sweet dread,
Then to each other smile.
Odours of dimly flowering June,
The starry stillness deep,
Possess their wondering spirits; soon,
Like children tired, they sleep.
The waggon creaks, the horses plod
By hedges clearer seen,
Down the familiar dusty road,
And past a village green.
The morning star shines in the pond:
A cock crows loud, and bright
The dawn springs in the sky beyond;
The birds applaud the light.
But on into the summer morn
Beneath the gazing East,
The sleepers move, serenely borne:
The world for them has ceased.
Last updated January 14, 2019