All Tempest

Like a navel
A hole in its middle
Through which a gull may fly
In silence.

Harold Witter Bynner
New Poems, 1960

A Letter

When I walked home forgotten,
When I walked home in grief,
I found a letter under my door.
It was an autumn leaf.

Harold Witter Bynner
Take Away the Darkness, 1947

A Painter

I cannot paint
The growth of the spirit,
But I can paint an old man
Watching the smoke of incense
Join the sky.

Harold Witter Bynner
Chinese Drawings


Cease from the asking,
you receive the answer.
God is not God, life life
nor wonder wonder
Save as a man himself
becomes the dancer
Across all variations
of the thunder.

Harold Witter Bynner
Take Away the Darkness, 1947


There is a dear weariness of love...
Hand relaxed in hand,
Shoulder at rest upon shoulder.
And to me that pool of weariness is more wonderful
Than crater, cataract,
Maelstrom, earthquake...
For it is a double pool
In which lie, silent,
The golden fishes of sleep.

Harold Witter Bynner
The Beloved Stranger, 1919


I lay on a dune and slept,
Sharp grasses by my head:
While armies far-off warred and wept,
I joined the earth instead. . .
Until I moved my hand
And was awake again
And shook myself out of the sand
To the cold wind of men.

Harold Witter Bynner
A Canticle of Pan, 1920

Santa Fe

Among the automobiles and in a region
Now Democratic, now Republican,
With a department-store, a branch of the Legion,
A Chamber of Commerce and a moving-van,
In spite of cities crowding on the Trail,
Here is a mountain-town that prays and dances
With something left, though much besides may fail,
Of the ancient faith and wisdom of St. Francis.

His annual feast has come. His image moves
Along these streets of people. And the trees
And kneeling women, just as they did before,
Welcome and worship him because he proves
That natural sinners put him at his ease,
And so he enters the cathedral-door.

Harold Witter Bynner
Uncollected Poem


There is an island where a man alone,
Alive beyond the selfishness of living,
Knows the whole world around him as his own
Without resenting and without forgiving.

Harold Witter Bynner
Book of Lyrics, 1955