Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

Initiation - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

The wind has fal'n asleep; the bough that tost
Is quiet; the warm sun's gone; the wide light
Sinks and is almost lost;
Yet the April day glows on within my mind
Happy as the white buds in the blue air,
A thousand buds that shone on waves of wind.
Now evening leads me wooingly apart.
The young wood draws me down these shelving ways
Deeper, as if it drew me to its heart.

What stills my spirit? What awaits me here?
So motionless the budded hazels spring,
So shadowy and so near!
My feet make not a sound upon this moss,--
Greenest gloom, scented with cold primroses.
A ripple, shy as almost to be mute,
Secretly wanders among further trees;
Else the clear evening brims with loneliness,
With stillness luminous and absolute.

The pause between sunsetting and moonrise
Exhales a strangeness. It melts out in dream
The experience of the wise.
This purity of sharpened sweet spring smells
Comes like a memory lost since I was born.
My own heart changes into mystery!
There is some presence nears through all these spells
Out of the darkened bosom of the earth:
Not I the leaf, but the leaf touches me.

Who seeks me? What shy lover, whose approach
Makes spiritual the white flowers on the thorn?
Who seems to breathe up round me,--perfume strange!--
June and its bloom unborn?
Shy as a virgin passion is the spring!
I could have Time cease now, so there should live
This blossom in the stillness of my heart,--
Earth's earth, yet immaterial as a sense
Enriched to understand, love, hope, forgive.

Now, now, if ever, could the spirit catch,
Beyond the ear's range, thrills of airy sound.
I tremble, as at the lifting of a latch.
Am I not found?
This magical clear moment in the dusk
Is like a crystal dewy--brimming bowl
Imperilled upon lifting hands: I dread
The breathing of the shadow that shall spill
This wonder, and with it my very soul.

A dead bough cracks under my foot. The charm
Breaks; I am I now, in a gloom aware
Of furtive, flitting wing, and hunted eyes,
And furry feet a--scare.
Fear, it is fear exiles us each apart;
We are all bound and prisoned in our fear;
From the dark shadow of our own selves we flee.
Ah, but that moment, open--eyed, erect,
I had stept out of all fear, and was free.

How sweet it was in youth's shy giving--time
Finding the sudden friend, whose thoughts ran out
With yours in natural chime;
Who knew, before speech, what the lips would tell!
No need to excuse, to hide or to defend
From him, in whom your dearest thought shone new
And not a fancy stirred for him in vain.
So was it, as with a so perfect friend,
In that rare moment I have lost again.

But lo, a whiteness risen beyond the hill:
The moon--dawn! A late bird sings somewhere; hark
The long, low, loitering trill!
Like water--drops it falls into the dark.
The earth--sweetness holds me in its fragrant mesh.
Oh, though I know that I am bound afar,
Yet, where the grass is, there I also grew.
Blood knows more than the brain. Am I perhaps
Most true to earth when I seem most untrue?


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010



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