Robert Laurence Binyon
Trafalgar Square - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon
Slowly the dawn a magic paleness drew
From windows dim; the Pillar high in air
Over dark statues and dumb fountains, threw
A shadow on the solitary square.
They that all night, dozing disquieted,
Huddled together on the benches cold,
Now shrank apart, distrustful and unfed,
And by the growing radiance unconsoled.
Then one, a woman, silently arose,
And came to the broad fountain, brimming cool,
And over the stone margin leaning close,
Dipped hands and bathed her forehead in the pool.
Now as the fresh drops ran upon her brow
And her hands knotted up her hair, the ways
Of old lost mornings came to her, and how
Into her mirror she would smile and gaze.
Then she was troubled; and looked down once more
Into the glimmering water; and she seemed
The very depth of darkness to explore,
If it might yield all that she feared and dreamed.
But that kind clouding mirror answered her
With a soft answer; liquid mysteries
Of shadow, with a pale breeze just astir,
Yielded only the brightness of her eyes.
It was herself; but O what magic wrought
A presage round her, tender and obscure!
The water without stain refused her not:
In that deep vision she rejoined the pure.
The dawn stole on; and from its buried place
Rose in her bosom the sweet strength of youth;
She, the rejected, had no more disgrace:
Her opening heart drew in a different truth.
She that had come past her last hope, and found
Nothing beyond, and had shed no more tears,
But closing with dull ashes her first wound,
Had trodden into the daily dust all fears:
She now began to wonder and to thrill
Upon a new horizon: and the pain
Of hope began to quicken and to fill
The world with strangeness and desire again.
O then I am not come quite to the end,
She murmured, and life holds more than I knew.
Somewhere by seeking I may find a friend
Perhaps, and something in this world be true.
Alone in this bright battle, whose fierce din
Even now awakes round her defenceless lot,
Without home, friend, comfort or peace within,
The very stones might weep her. She weeps not:
But as a plant, that under parching drouth
Thirsted and drooped and daily heavier grew,
Rises afresh to the soft showering south,
She lifts her forehead to the sun anew.
And in her spirit a still fountain springs
Deeper than hunger, faith crying for life,
That to her eyes an inward clearness brings,
And to her heart courage for any strife.
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