Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

The Two Desires - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

What is the spirit's desire,
Sprung, springing, singing,
Fountain--fresh, rainbowed over with lights that awaken
The inner dishevelled crystal, starrily shaken
To sevenfold changes of fire?
Youth in its wonder aflower,
Up to the sun swinging,
A March daffodil, braves the bright wind's cold--
Sensitive silken softness, yet how bold
Against the cold snow--flurry and sleet shower!
Because it seeks--what mark
Beyond the tower of the lark
Who sees the dawn from the dark?
Only itself to unfold,
Expand, outpour, be told,
All, all to utter,--
Delicate thought's moth--flutter,
And hope's proud--sweeping voyage of wings sky--reaping;
To soar and to explore
In the midst of this mind--soiling
Earth--medley, and flesh--toiling
Cares, betrayal, and pain's returning sting;
Still to spring, still to sing,
Flame and flower of the mind,
Seeking bliss in this,--
Itself, itself to find.

What is the spirit's desire?
--Comes Experience after,
Experience and Comparison, mockers old.
Trail of a tarnishing cloud is heavily rolled,
And, harsher than shadow or cold,
Pitiless light searches the shallows of laughter
For terrible truth in the world rock--seated.
Yet not because shadow--fearing or world--defeated
But natively in its own unprompted sort,
Because of desire profounder than desire,
O now where aims the spirit? Higher, higher
Than ever flight up--carried it! Now that aim
Is a greatness greater than hero's name and fame,
A beauty passionate more than flesh can support,
Divine greatness, divine beauty, a pain
Appeasing all pains; flying not blight or bruise,
But seeking its own afar--conceived resort,
The spirit is only fain
Itself to lose,
Lose, lose.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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