Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

The Elm - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

O that I had a tongue, that could express
Half of that peace thou ownest, darkling Tree!
A slumber, shaded with the heaviness
That droops thy leaves, hangs deeply over me.
Far off, the evening light
Takes dim farewell: with hesitating Night
Day softly parleys; each her hour suspends,
Hushing the harboured winds, lest they affright
Ripe summer, that the falling leaf attends.

Fresh are the fields; and like a bloom they wear
This delicate evening. Peace upon them lies
So soft, I marvel that their slopes to air
Dissolve not, ere foot reach them: dewy skies
In dream the distance steep.
Thou only, solitary Elm, dost keep
Firm root in earth, and with thy musing crest
Unmoved, and darkly branching arms asleep,
As truth in dream, my spirit anchorest.

O surely Sleep inhabits in thy boughs,
Sleep, that knows all things; each well--hid distress
And private sigh; that all men's plea allows,
And is acquainted with the happiness
Removed, of him that grieves.
Surely beneath thy grave and tranquil leaves
He will unfold the obstinate mystery
That to our questing thought for ever cleaves,
And I may hold in my own hand the key.

To pierce the veil, and, seeing with clear eyes,
Wonder that riddles ever vext our lot,
What joy! For did perfidious Earth devise
Our desolation; were her felon plot
To flatter with fair shows,
That we her purpose out of useless woes
Might fashion, baited by a glorious lure,
You could not, O dark leaves, such deep repose
Imitate, nor conspire to seem secure.

You, as a child exclaims the natural fear
Which men dissemble, what you could not hide
Would utter: but you sleep, remote from care.
Still tree, by thy dumb augury I abide
Nor further ask thee tell
Things for the time imprisoned: I the spell
Might break, and thou the rash intruder scorn.
Enough, that what I know not thou know'st well,
Unagitated, nor hast need to mourn.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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