Orphans Of Flanders

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Where is the land that fathered, nourished, poured
The sap of a strong race into your veins,
Land of wide tilth, of farms and granaries stored,
Of old towers chiming over peaceful plains?

It is become a vision, barred away
Like light in cloud, a memory and belief.
On those lost plains the Glory of yesterday
Builds her dark towers for the bells of Grief.

It is become a splendour--circled name
For all the world; a torch against the skies
Burns on that blood--spot, the unpardoned shame
Of them that conquered: but your homeless eyes

See rather some brown pond by a white wall,
Red cattle crowding in the rutty lane,
A garden where the hollyhocks were tall
In the Augusts that shall never be again.

There your thoughts cling as the long--thrusting root
Clings in the ground; your orphaned hearts are there.
O mates of sunburnt earth, your love is mute
But strong like thirst and deeper than despair.

You have endured what pity can but grope
To feel: into that darkness enters none.
We have but hands to help; yours is the hope
Whose courage rises silent with the sun.

© Robert Laurence Binyon