Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PERSONALITY, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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PERSONALITY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: With words of other men, with memories
Last Line: No man may teach.
Subject(s): Self


With words of other men, with memories
Bewildered quite,
Strange with a pulse that, quicker than all these,
Tells wrong from right,
My mind marks thought on thought that flits and flees
By day and night.

Flickering a thousand thoughts of hope and fear,
Of joy and pain,
To the events that rouse, the moods that veer
Each day again,
Harried and clamorous, alert and clear,
So shifts my brain.

A treasure-house, a fairyland, a waste,
A field of war;
Jewelled with constellations, and erased
Of every star;
Save in dead sleep immediate with haste
To make or mar;

Such is mine instrument upon mine act,
With something there
Battling its baser fears to found on fact
Whate'er shines fair
Throughout its round; to reason, to exact;
Flash praise or prayer.

As one who through a train's swift window sees
The fields at night
Shift and change form, behind their flickering trees, --
The moon's pale light
Show foaming falls -- a forest's mysteries --
High mountains bright.

So my brain holds and loses vision of
Whoe'er devised
Our life-long questioning, our life-long love;
Blindly apprised
Of miracle; athrill with each new move
To Truth new-guised.

And the blood burns or shivers through my veins,
And the fleet days
Possess me with their fugitive sharp pains,
Sweet pangs, delays
And onsets, -- and my million brother brains
Scan me at gaze.

From the hot hearts of all my ancestry,
Their mental toils,
My heart takes fire, the mind they gave to me
Snatches its spoils;
And no man knows me, nor myself I see
Through all that foils.

Friends mark me by my pleasure or my task.
My lips have speech.
They read by these, and I; yet ever ask
Nor find in each
That Self which, till this Pythian world unmask,
No man may teach.





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