Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

The Heather Branch - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

Out of the pale night air,
From wandering lone in the warm scented wood,
The sighing, shadowy, bright solitude
Of leafy glade, and the rough upland bare,
To thee I come, a branch
Of heather in my hand,--the sprays yet keep
Drops of the dewy moonshine trembling there--
And my heart filled full of a happy mood,
To thee that wakest, while the others sleep.

Dost thou not know me? Yet I know
Thee, and the ache that will not let thee rest.
When thou wast tossing, deep oppressed,
And thy hot eyes the darkness sought in vain,
I saw thee, and I longed to soothe thy pain.
Sorrow it is not that o'erwhelms thee so,
But the perfidious touch, that unperceived
Thy joy and even thy desire has thieved,
Till all at once waking to where thou art,
Upon thy shuddering heart
Look in with dreadful faces the calm Hours,
Advancing to despoil thee utterly.
Thou longest to be free.
But O against thyself didst thou conspire,
And hope grown gray and rusting powers
Tell thee that vain is thy desire,
And counsel thee from all thy care to cease,
Proposing to thy fretting sense outworn
Vacancy absolute and utter peace.

And is peace empty? O look forth
Upon the moonlight spread
In stillness over the reclining earth.
The stillness of a trance profound it seems
And a world bright and uninhabited,
Yet how immortally, how richly teems!
Hush thy senses, and hark,
The silence fills
With sounds unnumbered, as the dark
With worlds, whose coming not the swiftest sight
Affirms, yet in an instant they are bright.
Listen, the whole air thrills
With gentle and perpetual stir of birth,
Softer than sighs, budding and flourishing
Upward of each austere or tender thing;
They pine not to haste back under the ground,
But to embrace their being and to abound.
Send thy thought onward over miles and miles
Of silence, till at last it apprehend
Faintly, the vastness in which thou hast part,
Till the wrought cities melt like shadowy isles
Distant in radiance of the endless main,
And of its solitude be purged thy heart.
All this, dear friend,
A thousand thousand spirits, and deep bliss,
And waves of swelling and subsiding pain
Doth this immensity of peace contain.

But now, O now, give me no grief to bear,
For thou must take my joy; there is no room
For grief, and I from care
Turn thee. The moonlit air
Blows dimly to enchanted sense
Odour and memory, it knows not whence,
And our forgetful souls reminds to bloom!
Does thy heart tremble? I that have not sought
Joy, but have found, I bid thee refuse nought,
But take the whole world welcome to thy breast,
Else in no part possest.
The Hours await thee; ah, they too
Love to be loved: woo them and ever woo.
Give me thy hand, and farewell: see, I break
My branch of heather: this I take
And bear in memory of this night and thee:
But keep this by thee, to remember me.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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