Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

The Bathers - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

Hither, from thirsty day
And stifling labour and the street's hot glare,
To twilight shut away
Beyond the soft roar, under hovering trees,
Hither the gleeful multitudes repair,
And by the open, echoing, evening shore,
On the dim grass, to the faint freshened breeze,
With laughter their delighted bodies bare.

Peaceful above the sunset's burning smoke,
One star and white moon lure the eastern night.
Already tasting of that wished delight
The great elms stir their boughs,
As from the day's hot languor they awoke.
But the gliding cool of water whispering calls
The bathers, in soft--plunging falls,
To overtake its ripple with swift stroke,
Or, pillowing their upward faces, drowse
On undulation of an easy peace;
Miraculous release
Of heavy spirits, laving all desire
With satisfaction and with joy entire.

Strange now the factory's humming wheel, the cry
Of tireless engines, the swift--hoisted bales
Unnumbered; strange the smell of ordered wares
In the shop's dimness: noonday traffic fails
Out of the wave--washed ear; stiff office stool,
And busy hush: and like a turbid dream,
The tavern's glittering fume insensibly
Ebbs with the hot race and the glutted stream
Of labour, thieving the dear sands of youth.
But ever closer, like sweet--tasting truth,
The vivid drench, the yielding pressure cool;
And like a known touch comes the fitful breeze
From murmuring silence: the suspended trees
Above, the wet drops that from hair and beard
Run down the rippled back, are real and sweet.
Warm are the breathing limbs, and the firm feet
Tread lightly the firm ground, or lightly race
To mirthful cries: while Evening, nearer heard
And felt, a presence of invisible things
Inbreathes, as to the nostril keen she brings
The darkling scented freshness of the grass.

O now from raiment of illusion shed
The perfect body moves, rejecting care,
And to mysterious liberty remits
The rejoicing mind, in native pasture fed;
And mates its glory with the priceless air,
The universal beam, whatever fits
Untamable spirits, nor is bought nor sold;
Equalled with heroes old,
That beautifully people the green morn
Of time, and from pale marble, young and wise
Gaze past our hurrying world, our triumphs worn,
And our hearts trouble with their peaceful eyes.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010



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