Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern American Poetry
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Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern American Poetry.  1919.
 
Witter Bynner. 1881–
 
90. Train-Mates
 
OUTSIDE hove Shasta, snowy height on height, 
A glory; but a negligible sight, 
For you had often seen a mountain-peak 
But not my paper. So we came to speak... 
  
A smoke, a smile,—a good way to commence         5
The comfortable exchange of difference! 
You a young engineer, five feet eleven, 
Forty-five chest, with football in your heaven, 
Liking a road-bed newly built and clean, 
Your fingers hot to cut away the green  10
Of brush and flowers that bring beside a track 
The kind of beauty steel lines ought to lack,— 
And I a poet, wistful of my betters, 
Reading George Meredith's high-hearted letters, 
Joining betweenwhile in the mingled speech  15
Of a drummer, circus-man, and parson, each 
Absorbing to himself—as I to me 
And you to you—a glad identity! 
  
After a time, when others went away, 
A curious kinship made us choose to stay,  20
Which I could tell you now; but at the time 
You thought of baseball teams and I of rhyme, 
Until we found that we were college men 
And smoked more easily and smiled again; 
And I from Cambridge cried, the poet still:  25
"I know your fine Greek theatre on the hill 
At Berkeley!" With your happy Grecian head 
Upraised, "I never saw the place," you said— 
"Once I was free of class, I always went 
Out to the field."  30
  
Young engineer, you meant 
As fair a tribute to the better part 
As ever I did. Beauty of the heart 
Is evident in temples. But it breathes 
Alive where athletes quicken curly wreaths,  35
Which are the lovelier because they die. 
You are a poet quite as much as I, 
Though differences appear in what we do, 
And I an athlete quite as much as you. 
Because you half-surmise my quarter-mile  40
And I your quatrain, we could greet and smile. 
Who knows but we shall look again and find 
The circus-man and drummer, not behind 
But leading in our visible estate— 
As discus-thrower and as laureate?  45
 
 
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