Witter Bynner

 Witter Bynner (1881-1968), American poet. He wrote the choral parts for "Iphigenia in Tauris", presented by Isadora and her brother Augustin in New York in 1915.


  An Ode to a Dancer 

  O Keats, thy Grecian urn has been upturned

And from its ashes is a woman made,

To dance them back again as when they burned

In young antiquity and pipes were played!

And who that early woman was that danced

Them dead, thou, Keats, wert born too late to know

And born too early for her later birth.

And yet thy lips of poesy could blow

Both lives, until their ankles met and glanced

Between the dead world and the unborn earth.

Here is thy living witness from the dead,

With the garment and the measure and the grace

Of a Greek maid, with the daisies on her head

And the daring of a new world in her face.

Dancing, she walks in perfect sacrifice....

 Dancing, she lifts

her beauty in her hands

And bears it to the altar, as a sign

Of joy in all the waters and the lands.

 And while she praises with her pure device,

 The breath she dances with, O Keats, is thine!

 Life rises rippling through her like a spring,

 Or like a stream it flows with deepening whirl.

 Leaves in a wind taught her that fluttering

 Of finger-tips. She moves, a rosy girl

 Caught in a rain of love; a prophetess

 Of dust struck on the instant dump with pain;

 A lovely melancholy being, wild

 With remembering, with groping to attain

 The edge and entrance of a wilderness,

 To play again, untroubled as a child.

 She strikes at death. But the escaping foe

 Awaits unwearied, knowing every wile.

 Forward she comes to take the final blow-

 And in defeat defies him with her smile....

 Upward she bears her throat to the keen thrust

 Of triumph:- "O ye gods of time who give

 And take, ye makers of beauty, though I die

 In this my body,-beauty still shall live

 Because of me and my immortal dust!-

 O urn! Take back my ashes! It is I!"


             Isadora (To her Six Dancers)   

  Beauty came out of the early world,

 Her hyacinthine hair still curled,

 Her robe still white on auroral limbs;

 And her body sang the self-same hymns

 It long ago had sung to the morn

 When death gave birth and love was born.

 And once again her presence proved,

 As most immortally she moved,

 That in her meditative eye

 The child of death can never die

 But dances with inspired feet

 On every hill, in every street.

 She raised her hand-and Irma came,

Theresa, Lisel, each like a flame,

 Anna, Erica, Gretel: the tread

 Of life still dying, never dead....

And like a bird-song in a wood,

 Within their very heart she stood.