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Now is the time for the burning of the leaves.

They go to the fire; the nostril pricks with smoke

wandering slowly into a sweeping mist.

Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!

A flame seizes the smouldering ruin and bites

on stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist.


The last hollyhock’s falled tower is dust;

all the spices of June are a bitter reek,

all the extravagant riches spent and mean.

All burns! The reddest rose is a ghost;

sparks whirl up, to expire in the midst; the wild

fingers of fire are making corruption clean.


Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,

time for the burning of days ended and done,

idle solace of things that have gone before:

rootless hopes and fruitless desires are there;

let them go to the fire, with never a look behind.

The world that was ours is a world that is ours no more.


They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise

from squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,

and magical scents to a wondering memory bring;

the same glory, to shine upon different eyes.

Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.

Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.


Robert Laurence Binyon (1869 – 1943)

Image Credit: Pixaby, Public Domain