Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

Mother And Child - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

By old blanched fibres of gaunt ivy bound,
The hollow crag towers under noon's blue height.
Ribbed ledges, lizard--haunted crannies white,
Cushioned with stone--crop and with moss embrowned,
Cool that clear shadow from the outer glare
Above a grassy mound,
Where she that sits, muses with lips apart
And eyes dream--filled beneath the abundant hair
And lets the thoughts flower idly from her heart.

Thoughts of a mother! For her child amid
Light blossoms that a brook's cold ripple fledge,
Wind--shaken at the shadow's glowing edge,
Plays with a child's intentness; now half--hid,
And now those gay curls caught in frolic sun
Toss to the breeze unbid.
And through the thoughts of her who watches shine
With quiverings of felicity that run
Through all her being, as through water wine.

Her thoughts flow out to the stream's endless tune.
Ah, what full sea could all that hope contain?
Then apprehensions vivid like a pain
Wing after, swift as through this airy noon
The swallow skims and flashes past recall
But O returns how soon,
Back in a heart's beat! So her fears have sped
Far as the last loss--homing out of all
The deep horizon to that golden head.

The Child, amid the blossom, nothing recks.
His eyes a flame--winged dragon--fly pursue
Over stirred heads of mint and borage blue
In warm and humming air; on slender necks
Marsh--flowers peep toward him over juicy rush,
And the wild parsley flecks
With powdery pale bloom stalks his bare feet bruise,
And hot herb--odours mingle where they crush
Deep in the green growth and the matted ooze.

How smoothly clear along his ankle slips
The water, gliding to the pebbled cool!
He laughs with those young ripples of the pool.
Then the wind lifts a long spray's leafy tips,
And dashes him with drops of twinkling fire
As in the stream it dips,
Where over shadows bright with wavering mesh
Bramble and thorn and apple--scented brier
Their roots and low leaves thirstily refresh.

His mother calls. Now over thymy sod
The boy comes, yet he lingers; the flowers keep
His feet among them, clustering fair and deep.
Red crane's--bill shakes its seed; milk--campions nod,
By the rough sorrel little pansies hide;
Slim spikes of golden--rod
Above the honeyed purple clover flame;
And, where the sheltered dew has scarcely dried,
Cling worts, close--leaved, each with its own wild name.

What secret purpose infinitely wrought,
Each in its lovely kind and character,
These breathing creatures in the light astir,
Articulating new an endless thought
That still with some last difference must refine
The likeness it had sought?
Some bloom to mateless glory will unfold,
A grace undreamed some airy tendril twine,
Some leaf be veined with unimagined gold.

Thee, too, Child, with life budding in thy face
And quickening thy sweet senses, O thee too,
For whom the old earth maketh herself all new,
Each hour compels with unreturning pace
From the vague twilight being that keeps thee kin
To all the unconscious race,
Compels thee onward; for thy spirit apart
The habitation is prepared within;
The separate mind, the solitary heart.

It is a prison the slow days shall build,
When, disentwining from the world around,
Thou shalt at last gaze out of eyes unbound
On alien earth, with other purpose filled,--
Thou with the burden of identity,
Thou separately willed,
And feel at last the difference thine own
Mid thy companions, saying, ``This is I,
I, and none other in the world's mind alone.''

Even now thine eyes are lifted from the flowers,
And the sky fills them: boundless and all pure,
Regions afar to thrilling silence lure.
Ah, how to charm the fret of future hours
Shall to thy mind come as from wells of light
And time--forgetting powers,
Words large and blue and liquid as the sky;
The absolution of the infinite,
And sea--like murmur of eternity!

Shalt thou not long then, when the dark hours wring
Thy heart with pangs of mortal loss and doom,
That old unsevered being to resume
With its kind ignorance, relinquishing
This self that is so exquisitely made
For sorrow; time's dull sting
To lose, and the sharp anguish, and the wrong;
Into life's universal glow to fade,
And all thy weakness in that whole make strong?

Yet O thou heart so surely doomed to bleed,
Thou out of boundless and unshaped desire
Compacted essence single and entire,
Rejoice! In thee Earth doth herself exceed
O tarrier among flowers, of thee the unplumbed
Infinities have need;
Or how shall all that dumbness speak, and how
Those wandering blind energies be summed
As in a star? Rejoice that thou art thou!

Mighty the powers that desolate and kill,
Armies of waste and winter: and alone
Thou comest against them in the might of one
World--challenging and world--accusing will.
Yet mightier thou that canst thy might refrain,
The world's want to fulfil,
Thy soul disprison from time's mortal hour,
To pardon and pity changing that old pain,
And in thy heart the eternal Love let flower

All faith inhabits in thy Mother's eyes,
Yet she already hath all thy pangs foreknown
And in thy separation felt her own.
Far from her feet follow thy destinies!
There is no step she hath not trod before.
Her loss she glorifies
To spend on thee her all; and to defend
The divine hope which in her womb she bore,
Those arms of love wide as the earth extend.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010



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