The Lizard

By A. C. Benson

Jewelled Lizard, you and I
On the heathery hill-top lie,
While the westering sun inclines
Past the clump of red-stemmed pines;
O’er the little space of sun
Creep their shadows, one by one.

Now you sit with sparkling eye
While the bee spins homing by;
Now you quiver, dart, and rush.
Flickering through the heather-bush;
Pattering round me, as I muse,
Through the dry gorse avenues.

What fantastic spirit made you,
So devised you, so arrayed you,
Thus, through centuries of leisure,
Shaped you for a moment’s pleasure,
Stole from woodland diadems
Your incomparable gems.
Borrowed from the orbèd dew
Emerald glints to burnish you?

See, the world beneath us smiles;
Heathery uplands, miles on miles,
Purple plains and ridges steep.
Smoke from hamlets bowered deep,
Rolling downs with hazy head
To the far horizon spread.

Think it, lizard, every rood,
Every stretch of field and wood,
Every yard of sunny space,
Rears and tends its little race!
Half-a-hundred little hearts
Play unseen their tiny parts,
Bask beneath the liquid sky,
Lizard bright, as you and I.

Whence and whither! here you rest;
You would scorn the foolish quest.
I in drear omniscience
Weave me dreams of how and whence.
You, you care not; you, you run
To and fro beneath the sun.
Till these lights your armour leave.
Darkling in the dusky eve.

This Poem Features In: