Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

The Rag—picker - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

In the April sun
Shuffling, shapeless, bent,
Cobweb--eyed, with stick
Searching, one by one,
Gutter--heaps, intent
Wretched rags to pick.

Oh, is this a man?--
Man, whose spirit erect
Trampling circumstance,
Death and evil, can
Measure worlds, nor checked
By fell time and chance,

With undaunted eye,
With a mouth of song,
Front the starry blue?--
(O you passers--by,
Moving swift and strong,
Answer, what seek you?)

Husk of manhood, mere
Shrivel of his kind!--
In a bloodless mask
How the old eyes peer,
With no light behind!--
Mate of his mean task;

Yet this wreckage fill
With a thought, possess
With a faith's empire,
It shall be a will
Mightier than the seas,
Man, more dread than fire!

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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