Robert Laurence Binyon

(1869-1943 / England)

Winter Sunrise - Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon

It is early morning within this room; without,
Dark and damp; without and within, stillness
Waiting for day: not a sound but a listening air.

Yellow jasmine, delicate on stiff branches
Stands in a Tuscan pot to delight the eye
In spare December's patient nakedness.

Suddenly, softly, as if at a breath breathed
On the pale wall, a magical apparition,
The shadow of the jasmine, branch and blossom!

It was not there, it is there, in a perfect image;
And all is changed. It is like a memory lost
Returning without a reason into the mind;

And it seems to me that the beauty of the shadow
Is more beautiful than the flower; a strange beauty,
Pencilled and silently deepening to distinctness.

As a memory stealing out of the mind's slumber,
A memory floating up from a dark water,
Can be more beautiful than the thing remembered.

I turn to the window, and out of a low cloud
Is a brimming--over of brightness; dazzling the eye
With levelled brilliance, fiery--fresh, the Sun.

As in absent thought with dreaming eyes I gaze
On sudden shadows gliding across the rime
A vision comes before me in utter silence

The earth is moving, the earth is rolling over
All that is usual all that goes unquestioned
is taken from me
wider, wider the doors of vision are opening

Horizon opening into unguessed horizons
And I with the earth am moving into the light
The earth is moving, the earth is rolling over
into the light long, long
shadows of trees run out
are running across the grass.

With frosty plains, mountains and curving coasts
Cities and rivers, forests, burning deserts,
Seas and the sprinkled islands, passing, passing,
But all transparent! Under the generous earth
The careless waters, I see the original fires
Leaping in spasms, seeking to burst their prison
And I remember that human eyes have seen
Solid earth yawn and cities shaken to fragments
Ocean torn to the bottom and great ships swallowed,

Now more terrible than those blind convulsions
Are men at war; on land, on the seas, in the air,
War, war in the brain, in the obstinate will
war in the brain, war in the will, war
No refuge or hiding place anywhere for the mind
And now I hear everywhere sound of battle
The seekers after destruction, there is no refuge
Death, death, death on the earth, in the sea, in the air
Yet oh, it is a single soul always in the midst
Each is a single soul.
O it cannot be, yet it is

Let me not be so stunned that I cannot feel . . .
Imagination is but a little cup
It can hold but a minim part
Can a little cup contain an ocean?

My dreaming eyes return
The flower of winter remembers its own season
And the beautiful shadow upon the pale wall
Is imperceptibly moving with ancient earth
Around the sun that timeless measures sure and silent.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010



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