by Robert Laurence Binyon
How dark, how quiet sleeps the vale below!
In the dim farms, look, not a window shines:
Distantly heard among the lonely pines,
How soft the languid autumn breezes flow
Past me, and kiss my hair, and cheek, and mouth!
Half--veiled is the calm sky:
Jupiter's kingly eye
Alone glows full in the unclouded South.
Alas! and can sweet Night avail to heal
Not one of the world's wounds? Must I, even here,
Still listen with the mind's too wakeful ear
To that sad sound, which in my flesh I feel;
Sound of unresting, unrejoicing feet,
With feverish steps or slow
For ever, to and fro,
Pacing the gay, thronged, friendless, stony street?
Nature is free; but Man the eternal slave
Of care and passion. Must I deem that true?
With fields and quiet have we nought to do,
Because our spirits for ever crave and crave,
And never found their satisfaction yet?
World, is thy heart so cold,
So deeply weary and old,
That thy sole business is but to forget?
No, no! these perfect trees, with whispering voice,
These flowers, that have to thee a solace been,
And yet an alien solace, so serene
They live, and in their life seem to rejoice;
Life how unlike to thine! These flowers, these trees,
Are children of one birth
With thee, O Man; as Earth,
Earth, still so fair, for all thy ravages,
Is sister to yon radiant Jupiter,
Who with such glorious and untroubled gaze
Upon his own course burning down Heaven's ways
Across deep seas of darkness looks at her!
Perchance in his vast bosom he, too, keeps
Like ferment, like distress;
Yet tranquil shines not less,
Lord of the night, that round his splendour sleeps.
Last updated January 14, 2019