Robert Laurence Binyon

A Prelude at Evening

My spirit was like the lonely air
Before night,
Like hovering cloud that's melted there
In the late light,
When slow the vast earth--shadows reach
To the last flush,
And the wandering silences have each
Their own hush.

Did the green grass about me glimmer,
Or trees tower?
Not softer to my sense, nor dimmer,
The obscure power
Of all the world's wide trouble, fought
In the heart's recess:
My heart was solitude, my thought

But through my spirit that seemed, unfilled,
Alone to float,
A sudden dewy sweetness thrilled;
A low note!
And then a loud note, rippling full
To a still pause:
The liquid silence was a pool
That a breeze flaws.

It throbbed again, how lonely clear!
A song that seemed
Sprung beyond memory or fear,
A voice dreamed
In a land that no man ever found;
And who knows
What shook those lingering drops of sound
At the rich close?

Ah, where were you, passion and grief
Of the world's wrong?
What had you to do with a trembling leaf
And a bird's song,
And spaces calm with coming of night,
And the fresh gloom
Of shadowy trees, and smelt delight
Of hidden bloom?

Yet O, in me that song had part
Because of you!
It drank of the very blood of the heart
It quivered through
Because of the tears of joy, and the cost
Of a joy's breath,
Measureless thoughts of a dearness lost,
Hope, and death.

Strangeness of longing, beauty, pain!
I was aware
Of all your secret, soft as rain,
In the dim air.
For Life it was that sang aloud
To the lone dew,
Brave in the night and sweet in the cloud:
My heart knew. 

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