Laurence Binyon.

Porphyrion and other poems online

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Host

[Jstonishedy and struggling with himself].
Ungrateful !

AVERILL.

You know not, sir, perchance,
How misery turns the mind askance.

Host.
I pitied you.



THE SUPPER. 103

AVERILL.

Pity, sir, 'tis well,
But it will not hold men up from hell.
Silence, friends : you have had your way.
Now 'tis for me to say my say.
Listen well, our host : my youth
Comes back ; I burn with the fire of the truth.
It lights my thoughts and kindles my tongue ;
And he must speak, whose heart is wrung.

Behold us, who ask not pity,

We were not what we are ;
For a moment now we remember :

O, we have fallen far !

We are Necessity's children.

Our Mother, that bore us of old.
Has her mark on us all : she brings us

All, in the end, to her fold.

We have wandered in meadow and sun ;

But she calls us up from the flowers.
She is our will, our purpose ;

The aching flesh is ours.

Hark, in the lulling tempest,

Close on the wild wind's heels.
The sound that makes men tremble,

The sound of her chariot wheels !



104 THE SUPPER.

She calls. We must not tarry.

We must take up our yoke again,
With labouring feet for ever

To follow her triumph's train ;

To follow her sleepless course,
And to fall when she decrees

With wailings that no man hearkens,
With tramplings that no man sees.

With the great world glorying round us.
As the dying soldier hears.

Far off in the ebb of battle.

His conquering comrades' cheers.

Is your heart grown tender toward us ?

Would you lift us up from the mire ?
Would you set our feet in the way

To follow our far desire ?

O, you must have strength to fashion
Our bones and bowels anew.

With fresh blood fill these bodies.
Ere we may have part with you.

Farewell, for our Mother calls :
We go, but we thank you, friend.

Who have lifted us up for a moment.
To behold our beginning and end.



THE SUPPER. 105

We are clothed with youth and riches,

We are givers of feasts to-night,
We spread our plenteous table

And heap it in your sight.

You need not to sharpen hunger ;

All shall be well appeased.
If you find our fare to your pleasure,

You shall depart well pleased.

Have you tasted a relish keener

Than the pang of useless pain ?
Know you a spice more rare

Than the tears of wisdom rain ?

Come, eat of the mad desires

That rend us we know not why.

The terrors that hunt us, the torment
That will not let us die.

Taste, it is ripe to bursting.

The sorrow-scented fruit.
That weakness sowed in darkness,

That found in the night its root.

That blossomed in great despairs.
And is trodden to earth in scorn.

By the ignorant feet that trample
The faces of babes unborn.



io6 THE SUPPER.

The laughter of men that mock,

The silence of women that fear.
The shrinking of children's hands :

Come taste, all these are here.

Drink, drink of the blood-red wine,

That the smilers and scorners have pressed

From the wrongs of the helpless, the rending
And sobs of the fatherless breast.

We heap our table before you.

Eat and be filled : we go.
O friend, that had pity on us,

It is we that have pity on you !

Host

[Alone^ after a long silence^ raising his head'].

what furious serpent's nest
Have I found in my own breast ?
Like flames my thoughts upon me leap.
To eat my joy, to kill my sleep.

How dreadful is the silence here !
It weighs like terror on my ear.
Soon will the dawn be shining in.
And men awake, and birds begin ;
And I must face the world afresh.

1 faint, I fear it in my flesh.

I thought that I could love my kind !
Love is vast, and I was blind.
O mighty world, my weakness spare !
This love is more than I can dare.



VARIOUS POEMS.



THE RENEWAL.

No more of sorrow, the world's old distress,

Nor war of thronging spirits numberless,

Immortal ardours in brief days confined,

No more the languid fever of mankind

To-day I sing : 'tis no melodious pain

Cries in me : a full note, a rapturous strain

My voice adventures. Tremblest thou, my heart,

Because so eagerly the bliss would start

Up from thy fountains ? O be near to me,

Thou that upliftest, thou that sett'st me free !

Out of the dim vault and the dying hues
Of Autumn, that for every wanderer strews
On silent paths the perishing pale leaves,
Fallen, like thoughts the heart no more believes,
From blackened branches to the frozen ground :
Out of the multitudinous dim sound
Of millions, to each other all unknown,
Warring together on the alien stone
Of streets unnumbered; where with drooping head
Prisoners pass, by unseen tyrants led
And with inaudible manacles oppressed.
Where he who listens cannot ever rest



no THE RENEWAL.

For hearing in his heart the cry of men,

His brothers, from their lamentable den ;

Out of all these I come to this sweet waste

Of woods and waters, and the odour taste

Of pines in sunshine hearkening to the roar

Of ocean on his solitary shore ;

Lone beaches, where the yellow poppy blows

Unplucked, and where the wind for ever flows

Over the heathy desert ; where the sea

Sparkles afar into infinity ;

And the cleared spirit, tasting all things clean,

Rejoices, as if grief had never been ;

Where thou, to whom the birds and the waves sing.

By some enchantment hast restored the Spring.

As when a dear hand touches on the hair

And thrills away the heaviness of care,

Till the world changes and through a window bright

The upleaping spirit gazes in delight.

Over my brain I feel a calming hand ;

1 look upon sweet earth and understand :

I hear the loud wind laughing through the trees ;

The nimble air my limbs encourages.

And I upraise my songs afresh begun,

A palinode to the triumphant sun.

But thou, from whom into my soul to-day
Enters a quivering glory, ray on ray,
O by thine eyes a sister of the Spring,
Striking a core of sweetness in each thing



THE RENEWAL. m

Thou look'st on, till it blossoms ! By thy voice,

Soul of all souls created to rejoice !

Thou that with native overbrimming sense

Takest the light of Beauty's effluence.

As from the morning, in May's festal prime,

The young green leaves of the svs^ift-budded lime;

That drawest all glad things, they know not why,

By some dear magnet of felicity ;

And mournful spirits from their yoke of pain

Enchantest, till they lift their necks again.

And looking in thy bright and gentle eyes

To thee devote their dearest enterprise ;

Thou whose brave heart could its own pain consume

And turn to deeper tenderness ; in whom

Looks, thoughts, and motions, speech and mien persuade.

Immortal Joy hath his own mansion made :

How shall my too full heart, my stammering tongue.

Render thee half the song which thou hast sung

Into my being, by no web of words

Hindered, and fluid as the note of birds ?

Or tell what magic of sweet air is shed

On me, so radiantly comforted ?

I need each beam of the young sun ; I need

Each draught of the pure wind, whereon to feed

My joy ; each sparkle of the dew that shines

Under your branches, dark, sun-drunken pines.

All voices, motions of the unwearied sea ;

But most, O tender spirit, I need thee.

For thou to this dumb beauty art the tone

It fain would render ; all that is thine own



112 THE RENEWAL.

Of wayward and most human and most sweet
Mingling, until the music be complete :
Thine accents, O adorable and dear.
Command me to rejoice and have no fear ;
Out of remembrance wash the soil of pain
And medicine me to my own self again.

Muse of my quickened verse, I am as he

Who, striving in the vast up-swollen sea,

Lifted a moment on a wave, descries

Unrolling suddenly the boundless skies.

Now is mere breathing joy ; and all that strife

Confused and darkling, that we miscall life,

Is as a cloak, cast ofF in the warm spring.

Thus to possess the sunlight, is a thing

Worth more than our ambitions ; more than ease

Wrung from the despot labour, the stale lees

Of youthful bliss : more than the plotting mind

Can ever compass, or the heart can find

In wisest books or multitude of friends.

For this it is that brings us to the lap

Of bounteous Earth, and fills us with her sap

And early laughter ; melts the petty ends

Of daily striving into boundless air,

Revealincr to the soul what it can dare :

Frees and enriches thousandfold ; and steeps

This trembling self in universal deeps;

Lends it the patience of the eternal hills

To bear, no more in solitude, its ills,

And with all fervours of the world inspires



THE RENEWAL. iij

Its re-awakened and divine desires.

This is it that can find the deepest root

In us, and urge unto the fairest fruit,

Persuading the shut soul, that hid in night,

To crowd its bHssful leaves into the light,

And shed, upon the lost, immortal seeds :

Kindles into a forge of fiery deeds

The smouldering heart, and closes the long wound

Of gentle spirits by rough time untuned ;

And, O more precious even yet than this.

Empowers our weakness to support in bliss

The immensity of love, to love in vain

Yet still to hunger for that priceless pain j

To love without a bound, to set no end

To our long love, never aside to bend

In loving, but pour forth in living streams

Our hearts, as the full morn his quenchless beams.

He that this light hath tasted, asks no more
Dim questions answerless, that have so sore
Perplexed our thinking: in his bosom flow
Springs of all knowledge he hath need to know.
Nor vaunts he the secure philosophy
Self-throned, that would so easily untie
The knot of this hard world : and judging straight
Pronounce its essence and declare its fate.
How should the universal heart be known
To him that can so hardly read his own ?
For where is he that can the inmost speak
Of his own being ? Words are blind and weak,

I



114 THE RENEWAL.

Perplexing phantoms, dim as smoke to fire,

Mocking our tears, and torturing our desire,

When soul with soul would mingle : even Love

Never availed yet, howsoe'er he strove.

But, like the moon, to yield one radiant part

To the dark longing of the embracing heart.

And Earth, shall her vast secret open lie

Before the brief gaze of mortality ?

Yet wayward and self-wise, no sooner stept

Into the world, and a few troubles wept,

A few unripe joys garnered, a few sins

Experienced, the impetuous mind begins

Its hasty wisdom ; the world's griefs and joys

Holds in a balance, and essays to poise.

O persevering folly ! never sleep

Must weigh the lids of that soul who would reap

This mystery; deserts vast must she explore.

Many far towns, many an unguessed shore.

And those deep regions search, more desolate far.

Where lives are herded, ignorant what they are,

And scarcely disentangling joy from woe ;

Their being must she put on, if she would know

Humanity ; most private bliss invade,

And with extremest terror be afraid.

Blank quiet and fierce rages apprehend.

Nor less into the leaping air ascend

Of flame-like spirits, and enamoured veins

Feel pulse in her ; to exquisitest pains

Surrender. Then must her fleet impulse find

A way into the solitary mind



THE RENEWAL. 115

Of creatures, that in thousand thousand forms

Dumb Hfe inspires and a brief sunshine warms ;

And into the blind springs of sap and seed

Empty her passion, helpless with their need,

Torn with their hunger, thirsting with their thirst ;

And deeper, whither eye hath never pierced.

Search out, amid the unsleeping stir that fills

Caves of old ocean and the rooted hills,

Whether indeed these streams of being flow

From inmost joy or a great core of woe.

Not until then is her wide errand sped,

Nor even so the supreme verdidt said.

For far into the outer night must fare

The uncompleted spirit, that to dare

Has but begun : now her commissioned bark

She must adventure on an ocean dark,

Illumined only by the driving foam

Of stars imprisoned in the invisible home

Each of his circle ; age be lost in age

Ere she accomplish half her pilgrimage ;

Nor till the last of those uncounted spheres

Its incommunicable joys and tears

Yield up to her, shall she at length return

And homeward heavy with the message burn,

And to her wonder-waiting peers rehearse

The mighty meaning of the Universe.

O lovely Joy ! and sweet Necessity,

That wakes, empowers, and impassions me,

It is enough that this illumined hour



ii6 THE RENEWAL.

I feel my own life open like a flower

Within me. Whether the worlds ache or no,

Wearing a bright mask over breasts of woe,

I have no need to learn ; I only gaze

Into thine eyes, dear spirit, that dost upraise

My spirit ; thy bright eyes, that never cease

To thrill me with soft moonlike beams of peace.

I look in them as into Earth's own eyes ;

Faith instantly my longing fortifies ;

And now I think no single day has hours,

Nor year has days, nor life has years, for powers

Of joy sufficing ; for the things begun

And waiting to be seen and felt and done.

give me all thy pains, let them be mine.
And keep alone beloved delight for thine !

1 have a flame within me shall transmute
All to an ash, that shall bear flower and fruit,

While thou look'st on me, while from thee there flows

The invisible strength that in my spirit grows,

Until like Spring, the blissful prodigal,

It burns as it were capable of all

That ever could be reached, enjoyed, or won.

Or known, or suffered, underneath the sun.

But O why tarry we in language vain
And speak thus dimly of delight and pain ?
Those human words have fallen out of sense.
Drunk up into intenser elements.
As colours perish into perfedl light.
Now in the visitation of swift sight



THE RENEWAL. 117

That makes me for this happy moment wise

Beyond all wisdom of philosophies,

I feel even through this transitory flesh

The pang of my creation dart afresh ;

The bonds of thought fall off, and I am free ;

There is no longer grief nor joy for me,

But one infinity of life that flows

From the deep ocean-heart that no man knows

Out into these unnumbered semblances

Of earth and air, mountains and beasts and trees,

One timeless flood which drives the circling star

In furthest heaven, and whose weak waves we are,

Mortal and broken oft in sobbing foam.

Yet ever children of that central home,

Our Peace, that even as we flee, we find ;

The Road that is before us and behind.

By which we travel from ourselves, in sleep

Or waking, toward a self more vast and deep.

O could my voice but sound to all the earth

And bring thy tidings, radiant One, to birth

In hearts of men ! How would they cast away

The shroud that wraps them from the spacious day.

Burst the strong meshes they themselves have spun

Of idle cares, and step into the sun.

And see, and feel, and dedicate no more

Their travail to some far imagined shore,

Some dreamed-of goal beyond life's eager sphere.

For lo ! at every hour the goal is here j

And as the dark woods tremble to the morn,



ii8 THE RENEWAL.

That shoots into their dewy depths forlorn
Along the wind's path bright vi6torious rays,
And in all branches the birds lift their praise,
So should they sing, rejoicing to be free.
As I, beloved Muse, rejoice in thee.



FEBRUARY MORNING. 119



FEBRUARY MORNING.

Peacefully fresh, O February morn,
Thy winds come to me : quiet the light slants
Through silver-bosomed clouds, that slowly borne
Across the wide heath, endlessly advance.

Now 'tis that pause before the leaping Spring,
When over all things waiting comes a hush ;
And shyly, listen ! the one vocal thing,
Over his dewy notes lingers the thrush.

Now life, with all her hindering riddles, seems
Simple as its green budding to the tree.
Awhile the Fates forbear, and to my dreams,
Sheltered awhile from truth, relinquish me.

In haven and at anchor rides my heart,
And broods upon its swelling joys apart.



120 SONG.



SONG.

Love, like cordial wine,
Pouring his soul in mine,
Bids me to sing ;
Youth's bright glory snatch,
And Time's paces match
With fearless wing.

Now, while breath is bliss.

And dawn wakes me with a kiss,

Ere this rapture flee.

Ere my heart thou claim.

Sorrow, I will aim

A shaft at thee.



MAY EVENING. 121



MAY EVENING.

So late the rustling shower was heard ;
Yet now the aery west is still.
The wet leaves flash, and lightly stirred
Great drops out of the lilac spill.
Peacefully blown, the ashen clouds
Uncurtain height on height of sky.
Here, as I wander, beauty crowds
In freshness keen upon my eye.

Now the shorn turf a glowing green

Takes in the massy cedar shade ;

And through the poplar's trembling screen

Fires of the evening blush and fade.

Each way my marvelling senses feel

Swift odour, light, and luminous hue

Of leaf and flower upon them steal :

The songs of birds pierce my heart through.

The tulip clear, like yellow flame,
Burns upward from the gloomy mould :
As though for passion forth they came,
Red hearts of peonies unfold :
And perfumes tender, sweet, intense
Enter me, delicate as a blade.
The Hlac odour wounds my sense,
Of the rich rose I am afraid.



122 LOVE INFINITE.



LOVE INFINITE.

Where the honeysuckle blows

In the summer night, entwined
With fresh leaves of the rose,
Greenness in gloom divined ;
Sweet breaths in a mystery conspire
Mv soul to ravish in swift desire

Yet I, as the hidden grass
I roam, within mt bear
Joys that all these surpass.
And taste diviner air.
I love, I am loved : ah, nothing was ever sweet
As the word my lips to my heart repeat.

To take into my arms

The body of my bliss ;
Charm beyond earthly charms,

Thought beyond thought were this.
My bliss not Earth in her ring could hold,
Nor Night, that doth all the stars enfold.

It clothes me and bathes me round :

I find no end nor measure.
I sink, I am lost ; drowned

In the wonder and depth of pleasure.
O joy of love, could I plumb with a rod the sea.
My tongue might tell the untellable sweetness of thee.



OVER THE SEA.



123



OVER THE SEA.

There came an evening when the storm had died
After long rain, miraculously clear :
And lo, across the burning waters wide
Rose up that coast, to thee and me how dear.

I knew the very houses by the bay.
And as I gazed, the time that clouded thick
On those old hours, fell suddenly away,
And memory was bared, even to the quick.

There was no peace then in the evening light ;
For all my joy was left on that far shore.
Betwixt that apparition and the night
Alone I was ; and I was brave no more.

Could I not keep thee, even in my heart ?
O, my dear love, we perish, when we part.



124 LAMENT.



LAMENT.

O COULD the fallen leaf

On the bough again be born,

The old joy, the old grief

Come fresh to the heart with morn !

Spring will bring new flowers
And morning a new song :
But I want not these, I long

For the old days, the old hours.

The kisses that I kissed,

The sweet kisses you gave.
All are gone in a mist,

Gone into Time their grave.
Could I once again

Feel that old first kiss,

This, and only this
Could heal my wound of pain.



SEPARATION. 125



SEPARATION.

We parted at golden dawn.
I feasted my last on her eyes,
And journeyed, journeyed alone :
Mountains and cities and skies

Hurried with cruel pace,

Endless and swift as the years,

From the light, from the sun, from her face,

My heart full of darkness and tears.

In a day, in a night have flown

Ages on ages fleet.

At dawn I wander alone

In a strange, in a silent street.

O love, far off in the clime
Of our joy, remember, and bend
From that early glory of Time
To me at his desolate end.



126 FEARS OF LOVE.



FEARS OF LOVE.

Love grasps my heart in a net

Like the strong roots of a flower ;
So surely his root is set

In my spirit, to hold me with power.
Yet to-night, O forgive me, Dear !

I am troubled, my heart trembles.
There flutters within me a fear

That Love in vain dissembles.

O is it that even our trust,

So strongly planted.
How steadfast soever, must

By its own fear be haunted ?
As the heart must beat in the breast

If the pulse to its hfe be true.
Love must tremble and throb in his nest

To be sure of his life-blood anew ?



IN THE FIRELIGHT. 127



IN THE FIRELIGHT.

So sad and so lonely, Dear?

What dream by the fire do you dream
So deep, that you could not hear

My step as I entered ? Dim
Is the room and the ceiling above you

With shadows that leap from the fire :
But hither, look hither, 'tis I
That am here ; it is I, that love you.

I am come on the w^ings of desire :
Far off, I felt you sigh.

How could my heart refuse

Your longing that pierced so far ?
That in those clear eyes, that muse,

Has kindled a mournful star ?
But now, O now no longer

In the fire your comfort seek.
I bring love brighter than flame,
Than the sunshine warmer and stronger.

I cherish your hands j O speak,
Look on me, and speak my name !



128 THE ELM.



THE ELM.

O THAT I had a tongue, that could express
Half of that peace thou ownest, darkling Tree !
A slumber, shaded with the heaviness
That droops thy leaves, hangs deeply over me.

Far ofF, the evening light
Takes dim farew^ell : w^ith hesitating Night
Day softly parleys ; each her hour suspends,
Hushing the harboured winds, lest they affright
Ripe summer, that the falling leaf attends.

Fresh are the fields ; and like a bloom they wear
This delicate evening. Peace upon them lies
So soft, I marvel that their slopes to air
Dissolve not, ere foot reach them : dewy skies

In dream the distance steep.
Thou only, solitary Elm, dost keep
Firm root in earth, and with thy musing crest
Unmoved, and darkly branching arms asleep,
As truth in dream, my spirit anchorest.

O surely Sleep inhabits in thy boughs.
Sleep, that knows all things ; each well-hid distress
And private sigh ; that all men's plea allows,
And is acquainted with the happiness

Removed, of him that grieves.



THE ELM, 129

Surely beneath thy grave and tranquil leaves
He will unfold the obstinate mystery
That to our questing thought for ever cleaves,
And I may hold in my ovv^n hand the key.

To pierce the veil, and, seeing with clear eyes,
Wonder that riddles ever vext our lot,
What joy ! For did perfidious Earth devise
Our desolation j were her felon plot
To flatter with fair shows.
That we her purpose out of useless woes
Might fashion, baited by a glorious lure,
You could not, O dark leaves, such deep repose
Imitate, nor conspire to seem secure.

You, as a child exclaims the natural fear
Which men dissemble, what you could not hide
Would utter : but you sleep, remote from care.
Still tree, by thy dumb augury I abide

Nor further ask thee tell
Things for the time imprisoned : I the spell
Might break, and thou the rash intruder scorn.
Enough, that what I know not thou know'st well,
Unagitated, nor hast need to mourn.



130 AUGUSTINE.



THE VISION OF AUGUSTINE AND

MONICA.

Mother, because thine eyes are sealed in sleep,

And thy cheeks pale, and thy lips cold, and deep

In silence plunged, so fathomlessly still

Thou liest, and relaxest all thy will,

Is it indeed thy spirit that is flown ?

And gazing on thy face, am I alone ?

O wake and tell me it is false : I fear ;

And yet my heart persuades me thou art near

With living love. I cannot weep nor wail.

Nor feel thee taken from me ; the tears fail

Within me, and my lips their moan reject.

Nay, as I watch, each instant I expert

Thine eyes will shine upon me unaware

And thy lips softly part, and to thy hair

Laying one hand, like those who come from dreams

So bright, that the dim morning only seems.

Thou wilt stretch forth the other into mine.

And to thy tender gaze thy love resign.

And speak, as thou wast wont, in thy low voice

Words wise and gentle, and my heart rejoice

With comfort poured into a trusted ear.

Mother, thou hearest ? Surely thou dost hear.

Though thy tired eyes, blissfully closed, defer



AUGUSTINE. 131

The heavy world, the weight of human lot.

A change has fallen, and yet I know not what.

The deep communion of thy calm enfolds

My spirit also, and suspended holds

Lament, that knows not why to weep, yet yearns

For something missed, a fear it dimly learns.

And yet time has not touched us : the full glow

Salutes us, even as when five eves ago.

By this same window, over the same seas.

With thoughts of home brought by the shadowy breeze

From regions dearer than these golden skies.

We looked, and the same glory filled our eyes.

Even so the sun transfiguring the land

Upon the outstretched waters and bright sand

Reclined : the same faint odours floated sweet

From the green garden flowering at our feet.


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