Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

The Voices Of The Ocean - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

All the night the voices of ocean around my sleep
Their murmuring undulation sleepless kept.
Rocked in a dream I slept,
Till drawn from trances deep
At the invocation of morning calling strong,
I felt through sanguine eyelids light suffuse
My brain, and woke to a wonder of glad hues,
And over the trembling choir of birds that throng
Among the tamarisk and the glittering dews
I heard, O sea, thy song.

A charm has lured my feet, and I to the beach come down,
The bright abandoned beach, the curving strand,
And stripping upon the sand
I meet the salt spray o'er my body blown,
Embracing swift the jubilant waves that send
Their triumphing surges shouting to the shores around,
Until in a rushing splendour senses drowned
The solid earth forgetting, haste to spend
Their ever--fresh delight in the glory of swift sound
And the thunder without end.

But now from the wave withdrawn in indolent ease
Again desire upsprings to know thy heart.
I pace by the foam apart
Or linger in shadow shy, removed from any breeze.
Come, thou hast more to tell, thou hast not done,
I will be patient, all day lying in wait to hear
Upon the warm rock ledges hearkening near,
Of all thy thousand tones to lose not one,
While the shattered surf blows o'er me, leaping clear
To the seaward--journeying sun.

Radiant, hurrying delight of crests that dance and advance,
Careless, arrogant legions, tossing their milky manes;
How the wet light leaps and rains
From shivered plumes that melt in a lightning glance
And splendour of airy tresses backward blown!
What shouts of exultation, laughter sweet,
Wail of vanishing hosts and sighs of defeat,
Irresistible menace and anguished moan;
A thousand voices mingle in triumph and retreat:
But tell me, O sea, thine own!

Surely to happy mirth thou wooest my desire;
Willing is my heart with thy young waves to roam,
Lightly tripping foam,
Ever laughing nearer, ever dancing higher.
Sweeter than all glory, where the spirit wills
With heart outpoured in song triumphant as the tide,
With eager, open heart, ever to ride and ride!
Yet now at height of joy what tumult fills
Thy rushing strength? A sudden gloom invades thy pride
Resisted, an anger thrills.

Mutinous indignation that heavy Fate defies,
The ignorant rocks that set their sullen jaws,
In thy white flames that never pause
Rebelliously upleaping, my own heart I recognise.
I see the world's embattled towers uplift their height,
The wise, distrusting faces of them that trample truth;
I see the bodies slain of hopeless hoping youth;
And dark my heart upswells to the vainly echoing fight,
Cries of the helpless, tears of idle ruth,
And the wrong I cannot right.

Melancholy, to thee must I my vows resign?
The bitterness of my spirit give away
To the bitter broken spray?
O down--drawn sighing streams, with you repine?
Cover me, heavy waters, that I may hide my face
In darkness, nor behold the ruined flowers I sowed
Desolately forsaken that so sweetly glowed.
Defeated too am I, and languish in my place,
And still as glory fades, I bear a heavier load,
And the desert spreads apace.

Figures of sorrow now in my remembrance stand,
I see the face of her that her children ask for bread--
She turns away her head:
The face of him that all day toils on a stony land;
Women that ere the morning to their woe awake;
And him that sightless hears the murmur gaily streams,
Knocking weary the pavement that opens not for him.
O loud bewailing waves, you tremble as you break,
And you lift your dirges wild as you vanish into dream
For these and for my sake.

But hark! what voice emerges from the lamenting choir?
Surely Love is speaking! My heart trembles to hear.
Now no more I fear,
I cast my grief behind, I have but one desire;
To give my soul entire, nor to count any cost,
To pour my heart in passionate unreason sweet,
To follow and to follow with ever faithful feet
The steps adored of Love, whatever peril crossed,
With bliss or woe extreme my longing to complete,
In love divinely lost.

Sea, was this thy errand? Ah, but hush;
Again the wild lament, again the strife!
And now in mirth of life
Thy gleeful waters all overriding rush.
O have I heard at last? For now thy voices call
Mingled and sounding clear in a mighty voice as one.
In my heart they mingle that rejecteth none;
Sorrow that no longer shall my head appal,
Love, my sweetest joy; pain that I fear to shun;
I need, I need them all.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010



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