Robert Laurence Binyon


Gross, with protruding ears,
Sleek hair, brisk glance, fleshy and yet alert,
Red, full, and satisfied,
Cased in obtuseness confident not to be hurt,

He sits at a little table
In the crowded congenial glare and noise, jingling
Coin in his pocket; sips
His glass, with hard eye impudently singling

A woman here and there: 
Women and men, they are all priced in his thought,
All commodities staked
In the market, sooner or later sold and bought.

'Were I he,' you are thinking,
You with the dreamer's forehead and pure eyes,
'What should I lose?  All,
All that is worthy the striving for, all my prize,

'All the truth of me, all
Life that is wonder, pity, and fear, requiring
Utter joy, utter pain,
From the heart that the infinite hurts with deep desiring

'Why is it I am not he?
Chance? The grace of God? The mystery's plan?
He, too, is human stuff,
A kneading of the old, brotherly slime of man.

'Am I a lover of men,
And turn abhorring as from fat slug or snake?
Lives obstinate in me too
Something the power of angels could not unmake?'

O self-questioner! None
Unlocks your answer. Steadily look, nor flinch.
This belongs to your kind,
And knows its aim and fails not itself at a pinch.

It is here in the world and works,
Not done with yet.  Up, then, let the test be tried!
Dare your uttermost, be
Completely, and of your own, like him, be justified. 

English Poetry - E-mail