The Builders

By Robert Laurence Binyon

The Builders
Staggering slowly, and swaying
Heavily at each slow foot’s lift and drag,
With tense eyes careless of the roar and throng
That under jut and jag
Of half–built wall and scaffold stream along,
Six bowed men straining strong
Bear, hardly lifted, a huge lintel stone.
This ignorant thing and prone,
Mere dumbness, blindly weighing,
A brute piece of blank death, a bone
Of the stark mountain, helpless and inert,
Yet draws each sinew till the hot veins swell
And sweat–drops upon hand and forehead start,
Till with short pants the suffering heart
Throbs to the throat, where fiercely hurt
Crushed shoulders cannot heave; till thought and sense
Are nerved and narrowed to one aim intense,
One effort scarce to be supported longer!
What tyrant will in man or God were stronger
To summon, thrall and seize
The exaction of life’s uttermost resource
That from the down–weighed breast and aching knees
To arms lifted in pain
And hands that grapple and strain
Upsurges, thrusting desperate to repel
The pressure and the force
Of this, which neither feels, nor hears, nor sees?

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