Laurence Binyon, The Collected Poems of Laurence Binyon, I (London: Macmillan, 1931): 2
1Angered Reason walked with me
2A street so squat, unshapen, bald,
3So blear-windowed and grimy-walled,
4So dismal-doored, it seemed to be
5The abortion of a mind that had
6Nor wit nor will to make, but left
7Its impotence in image, reft
8Of even the means of seeming glad.
9And there, like never-ripened fruit,
10Unsunned and starved, were human lives
11In joyless, neighbour-dreading hives
12Of care, with half their senses mute.
13It pressed on me, that patient street,
14It hurt me that it housed my kind:
15It was so abject and resigned
16And so deformed, I hated it.
17The stars that flowered above grew bright;
18The evening filled with wondrous blue;
19The lampshine glistened in the dew;
20The gliding trams were ships of light.
21And through my rebel heart there ran
22The want of things not bought or sold;
23The spirit free to make and mould;
24The naked glory of a man.
25And fevered I began to build
26A city, like the body, worth
27The natural happiness of earth,
28And with this folk its streets I filled,
29No more from widest joy exiled
30Nor helpless in a caging net.
31Suddenly by a lamp I met
32A woman carrying her child.
33I stopped the building of my dream:
34For there was all the future's book
35Written in that enfolding look,
36And there the never-ending theme,
37And there the builder of the strong
38City of men's desire; but there
39Also the shadow of the snare
40And the corruption and the wrong.
41Ah, now I doubted of my thought
42That could so easily perfect
43Wishes in dream, and raise the wrecked,
44And make all noble as it wrought
45Those mother's eyes, absorbed, unknown,
46Had made my vision wan and thin.
47There was a harder world to win
48From flesh and blood than wood and stone.
49O now of those, life's prisoners, none,
50Soiled, soured, or hardened, but had speech
51To me of secret wonder; each
52Was once so wonderful to one!
53Yet she that bears the pang, and hears
54The first young cry and stills its want,
55And can with her vast hope enchant
56The promise of betraying years,---
57Who should have beauty's best but she
58To whom a son is given? That street
59Of life's denial and defeat
60Stood in my mind, accusing me.
Publication Start Year:
The Secret: Sixty Poems (London: Elkin Mathews, 1920).
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh