Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

Mother Of Exiles - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

What far--off trouble steals
In soft--blown drifts of glimmering rain?
What is it the wind feels,
What sighing of what old home--seeking pain
Among the hurried footsteps and the wheels,
The living low continual roar
Of night and London? What is it comes near,
Felt like a blind man's touch along the wall
Questing, and strange, like fear,
Lets a lone silence 'mid the turmoil fall,
Makes the long street seem vaster than before,
And the tall lamp, above dim passers--by,
Gleam solitary as on an ocean shore.

Ships on far tracks are stemming through the night;
South, east and west by foreign stars they steer;
Another half--world in the sun lies bright;
The darkness and the wind are here.

And now the rare late footfall scarce is heard,
But the wind cries along the emptied street.
In cowering lamp--light flicker the fine drops
To vanish wildly blurred;
A hunted sky flies over the housetops.
Importunate gusts beat
Shaking the windows, knocking at the doors
As with phantasmal hands,
A crying as of spirits from far shores
And the bright under--lands,
Seeking one place
That is to each eternal in the hue,
The light, the shadow of some certain hour,
One pang--like moment, years cannot efface.
O infinite remoteness, near and new!
O corner where friend parted from his friend!
O door of the first kiss, the last embrace!
O day when all was possible, O end
Irrevocable! O dream--feet that pace
One street, dear to the dead!
O London stones, that glimmer in the rain,
With bliss, with pain, have you not also bled?

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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