Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

The English Youth - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

There is a dimness fallen on old fames.
Our hearts are solemnized with dearer names
Than Time is bright with: we have not heard alone,
Or read of it in books; it is our own
Eyes that have seen this wonder; like a song,
It is in our mouths for ever. There was wrong
Done, and the world shamed. Honour blew the call;
And each one's answer was as natural
And quiet as the needle's to the pole.
Who gave must give himself entire and whole.
So, books were shut; and young dreams shaken out
In cold air; dear ambitions done without,
And a stark duty shouldered. And yet they
Who now must narrow to their arduous day
Did not forget their nurture, nor the kind
Muses of earth, nor joys of eager mind,--
Graced in their comradeship, and prizing more
Life's beauty, and all the sweetness at the core,
Because of that loathed business they were set
To do and finish. It was the world's debt,
Claiming all: but they knew, and would not wince
From that exaction on their flesh; and since
They did not seek for glory, our hearts add
A more than glory to that hope they had
And gloriously and terribly achieved.

O histories of old time, half--believed,
None needs to wrong the modesty of truth
In matching with your legend England's youth!
But all renown that fearless arms could win
For proud adventuring wondrous Paladin
Is glimmering laurel now: Romance, that was
The coloured air of a forgotten cause
About the heads of heroes dead and bright,
Shines home. We are accompanied with light
Because of youth among us; and the name
Of man is touched with an ethereal flame;
There is a newness in the world begun,
A difference in the setting of the sun.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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