In Memoriam: Laurence Binyon

LAST month, sitting in his armchair, he read —
He who today is dead,
Our honored love, pride, grief —
Poems: his spring-winter cluster, blossom and fruit in one.
His rich voice lifted that triumphant sheaf.
Bonfires and running waters; ordeals of youth;
Ruin, rebirth; solaces, lucid meditations of old ago;
All these were in his words: symbols and images of purifying truth.
He closed the page.
Quiet, gentle he sat. Then, since the hour grew late:
“Good night.” He went ahead,
Casting his torch-beam towards the garden gate.
“Good night.” Then, “Wait,” he said,
“One moment. You must see
Our winter-flowering tree.”
Across the grass we went. Then suddenly
From dead of dark the apparition! . . . White
Aerial spirit broken from bare wood,
Prunus in bloom. . . . “How beautiful by this light!”
Over the boughs he threw its mild dim shower.
So thus they stood, —
Sweetly illumined she
By him; but he
Folded in winter dark impenetrably, —
Silently shining one upon the other:
The old man and the young tree, both in flower.