Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

First Day Of Summer - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

Sweetest of all delights are the vainest, merest;
Hours when breath is joy, for the breathing's sake.
Summer awoke this morning, and early awake
I rose refreshed, and gladly my eyes saluted
The entering beam of the sun that laughed his clearest.
I too laughed for pleasure, and vowed straightway
To stream and sun the flower of an idle day,
With summer sweetly enjoyed and friends well suited.

Merry were we, as stepping aboard we laid
The shaven oars in order; merry the leap
Of the oar, that grasped the water and stirred from sleep
A wave, to tremble past us in foamy rings.
With rhyming fall, and with bright returning blade
Impetuous music urges the rippling keel;
Softly our necks the flow of the breezes feel;
And blue, and thronged with birds, the morning sings.

And lo, the elms, in a day reclothed and gleaming
In delicate youth, above us stir their leaves.
The eye, to naked winter used, receives
A magic pleasure: and still the shore we follow
Winding in flowery meadows; freshly streaming
The river meets us ever from fields unknown:
As light we travel his curving mirror lone,
No longer I envy you, O frolic swallow.

Till moored at noon by shadowy turf, and ended
Awhile that pleasant toil, what relish keen
At ease to lie amid flowers, with rustling green
O'ershaded; there, reclined by a bubbling pool,
The rushing weir in murmur and foam blended,
Entrancing ear and eye, caresses the brain
With smooth perpetual sound, the lulling strain
Of water weariless poured and glittering cool.

O then, refreshed, in the level light serene
Our boat re--entering, her prow homeward turned,
How soft we glided; soft, as evening burned
Through drooping leaves, our liquid furrow stirred
The dim green heights of the elm, reflected green
In shadowy water; at last the dreaming shore
From its own enchanted mirror we know no more:
Softly we glided downward, and spoke no word.

Nor took we land, till the West in a blush was dying,
And over the twilit meadow we loitered home.
Even now in my ear is rushing the constant foam,
And the dappled stream is alight with the wind's laughter,
As I taste, in the cool of the darkness dreamily lying,
The sun yet warm upon limbs that sweetly ache;
Drowsed deliciously, still I linger awake,
Only to keep my delight, and to look not after.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010



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