Witter Bynner

(1881-1968 / United States)

This Man - Poem by Witter Bynner

If only you were here, Walt Whitman,
To tell the largeness of this man!
For only you could forget in space his enemies—
You who saw Lincoln stand up before the faces of a city
Alone like this man,
Alone even when friended,
Alone with destiny;
You who saw him facing Manhattan,
Manhattan hating him,
Never a cheer—
That silence,
That anger,
That misunderstanding:
What would you say now
Of this American,
This liberator,
This man of destiny?—
Choired by the voices of slaves who would be freemen
And of freemen who would renounce their slaves,
Called to be a witness of joy before the peoples of the earth?
Would you not say that lilacs have bloomed again,
And that out of their death their odor is the odor of life,
And that a star which had risen at evening grew pale toward
a morning of sun ?
And that the beauty of the sinews of These States,
Summoned now
By this man
To a new stature,
Shall become the beauty of the sinews of the world!

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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