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The New World   By: (1881-1968)

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THE NEW WORLD

BY WITTER BYNNER

An Ode to Harvard and Other Poems Tiger The Little King The New World Iphigenia in Tauris

THE NEW WORLD

by

WITTER BYNNER

New York Mitchell Kennerley 1918

Copyright 1915 by Mitchell Kennerley

The greater part of this poem was delivered before the Harvard Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society in June, 1911; several passages from it have appeared in Poetry , and others in The Bellman , the Boston Evening Transcript and the American Magazine .

Printed in America

To Celia

The New World

I

Celia was laughing. Hopefully I said: "How shall this beauty that we share, This love, remain aware Beyond our happy breathing of the air? How shall it be fulfilled and perfected?... If you were dead, How then should I be comforted?" But Celia knew instead: "He who finds beauty here, shall find it there." A halo gathered round her hair. I looked and saw her wisdom bare The living bosom of the countless dead. ... And there I laid my head.

Again when Celia laughed, I doubted her and said: "Life must be led In many ways more difficult to see Than this immediate way For you and me. We stand together on our lake's edge, and the mystery Of love has made us one, as day is made of night and night of day. Aware of one identity Within each other, we can say: 'I shall be everything you are.'... We are uplifted till we touch a star. We know that overhead Is nothing more austere, more starry, or more deep to understand Than is our union, human hand in hand. .... But over our lake come strangers a crowded launch, a lonely sailing boy. A mile away a train bends by. In every car Strangers are travelling, each with particular And unkind preference like ours, with privacy Of understanding, with especial joy Like ours. Celia, Celia, why should there be Distrust between ourselves and them, disunity? .... How careful we have been To trim this little circle that we tread, To set a bar To strangers and forbid them! Are they not as we, Our very likeness and our nearest kin? How can we shut them out and let stars in?" She looked along the lake. And when I heard her speak, The sun fell on the boy's white sail and her white cheek. "I touch them all through you," she said. "I cannot know them now Deeply and truly as my very own, except through you, Except through one or two Interpreters. But not a moment stirs Here between us, binding and interweaving us, That does not bind these others to our care." The sunlight fell in glory on her hair.... And then said Celia, radiant, when I held her near: "They who find beauty there, shall find it here." And on her brow, When I heard Celia speak, Cities were populous With peace and oceans echoed glories in her ear And from her risen thought Her lips had brought, As from some peak Down through the clouds, a mountain air To guide the lonely and uplift the weak. "Record it all," she told me, "more than merely this, More than the shine of sunset on our heads, more than a kiss, More than our rapt agreement and delight Watching the mountain mingle with the night.... Tell that the love of two incurs The love of multitudes, makes way And welcome for them, as a solitary star Brings on the great array. Go make a lovers' calendar," She said, "for every day."

And when the sun had put away His dazzle, over the shadowy firs The solitary star came out.... So on some night To eyes of youth shall come my light And hers.

II

"Where are you bound, O solemn voyager?" She laughed one day and asked me in her mirth: "Where are you from? Why are you come?" .... The questions beat like tapping of a drum; And how could I be dumb, I who have bugles in me? Fast The answer blew to her, For all my breath was worth.... "As a bird comes by grace of spring, You are my journey and my wing And into your heart, O Celia, My heart has flown, to sing Solemn and long A most undaunted song... Continue reading book >>




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