Bynner was born in Brooklyn, New York City, and brought up in Brookline, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1902. Initially he pursued a career in journalism, and edited McClure's Magazine. He later turned to writing, living in Cornish, New Hampshire until about 1915.
In 1916 he was one of the perpetrators, with Arthur Davison Ficke, a friend from Harvard, of an elaborate literary hoax. It involved a purported 'Spectrist' school of poets (along the lines of the Imagists) based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Spectra, a slim collection, was published under the pseudonyms of Anne Knish (Ficke) and Emanuel Morgan (Bynner). Marjorie Allen Seiffert, writing as Elijah Hay, was roped in to bulk out the 'movement'.
Bynner traveled with Ficke and others to Japan, Korea and China in 1917.
Bynner had a short spell in academia in 1918-1919 during World War I, at the University of California, Berkeley as Professor of Oral English. There, he composed Canticle of Praise and taught classes in poetry and verse writing. He was forced to leave after serving alcohol to freshmen during Prohibition.
He then traveled to China, and studied Chinese literature. He subsequently produced many translations from Chinese. His verse showed both Japanese and Chinese influences, but the latter were major. Bynner became more of a modernist in consequence, where previously he had been inclined to parody Imagism, and dismiss the orientalist pronouncements with which Ezra Pound was free.
Life and career in Sante FeEdit
Bynner settled in Santa Fe, in a steady and acknowledged 30-year homosexual relationship with Robert Hunt. He became a friend of D.H. Lawrence, and traveled with him and Frieda von Richthofen in Mexico; he much later in 1951 wrote on Lawrence, while he and his partner Willard Johnson are portrayed in Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent. Bynner and Hunt had numerous parties at their house, hosting many notable writers, actors, and artists, which guests included Ansel Adams, Willa Cather, Igor Stravinsky, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, Aldous Huxley, Clara Bow, Errol Flynn, Rita Hayworth, Christopher Isherwood, Carl Van Vechten, Martha Graham, Georgia O'Keeffe and Thornton Wilder.
On January 18, 1965, Bynner had a severe stroke. He never recovered, and required constant care until he died on June 1, 1968. His papers are archived in the New Mexico State University Library.
- An Ode to Harvard, and other poems. Boston: Small, Maynard, 1907.
- also published as Young Harvard, and other poems. New York: Stokes, 1907.
- The New World. New York: Kennerley 1915; San Francisco, CA: John Henry Nash, 1919; New York: Knopf, 1921.
- Spectra: A book of poetic experiments (with Arthur Davison Ficke). New York: Kennerley, 1916.
- Grenstone Poems: A sequence. New York: Stokes, 1917.
- Pins for Wings. New York: Sunrise Turn, 1920.
- The Beloved Stranger: Two books of song & a divertisement for the unknown lover. New York: Knopf, 1919.
- A Canticle of Praise. San Francisco: John Henry Nash, 1919.
- A Canticle of Pan, and other poems. New York: Knopf, 1920.
- Caravan. New York: Knopf, 1925.
- Young Harvard: First poems of Witter Bynner. New York: Knopf, 1925.
- Cake: An indulgence. New York: Knopf, 1926.
- Roots. New York: Random House, 1929.
- Indian Earth. New York: Knopf, 1929.
- Eden Tree. New York: Knopf, 1931.
- Guest Book. New York: Knopf, 1935.
- Against the Cold. New York: Knopf, 1940.
- Selected Poems (edited by Robert Hunt; essay by Paul Horgan}. New York & London: Knopf, 1943.
- Take Away the Darkness. New York: Knopf, 1947.
- Book of Lyrics. New York: Knopf, 1955.
- New Poems, 1960. New York: Knopf, 1960.
- Selected Poems (edited by Richard Wilbur). New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1978.
- Light Verse and Satires. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1978.
- Tiger. New York: Kennerley, 1913.
- The Little King. New York: Kennerley, 1914.
- A Book of Plays. New York: Knopf, 1922.
- The Persistence of Poetry. San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1929.
- Journey with Genius: Recollections and reflections concerning the D.H. Lawrences. New York: J. Day, 1951.
- Prose Pieces (edited by James Kraft). New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1979.
- The Works of Witter Bynner (edited by James Kraft). New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1978-1981.
- The Selected Witter Bynner: Poems, plays, translations, prose, and letters (edited by James Kraft). Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1995.
- Euripides, Iphigenia in Taurus: An English version. New York: Kennerley, 1915.
- The Jade Mountain: A Chinese anthology, being three hundred poems of the T'ang dynasty, 618-906 (translated with Kiang Kang-hu). New York: Knopf, 1929.
- The Way of Life According to Laotzu: An American version. New York: John Day, 1944.
- The Chinese Translations. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1978.
- Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, The Sonnets. New York & London: Knopf, 1931.
- Selected Letters (edited by James Kraft). New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1981.
Poems by Witter BynnerEdit
- Robert Lindsay, Witter Bynner: A bibliography. University of New Mexico Press, 1967.
- James Kraft, Who Was Witter Bynner?. University of New Mexico Press, 1995..
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Herringshaw, Thomas William. American Elite and Sociologist Bluebook, p. 387. American Blue Book Publishers, 1922.
- ↑ William Jay Smith, The Spectra Hoax (1961).
- ↑ Bynner, Witter (1981). Selected Letters. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 University of California web site, Hidden History of the Berkeley Campus project page. Accessed November 25, 2007.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Inn of the Turquoise Bear web site History page. Accessed November 25, 2007.
- ↑ Fodor's listing. Accessed November 25, 2007.
- ↑ Andrew Collins, Desert Rose, Travel and Leisure (magazine) Dec. 2002, found at Travel and Leisure web site. Accessed November 25, 2007.
- ↑ Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry, American Academy of Arts and Letters. Web, Oct. 2, 2014.
- ↑ Search results = au:Witter Bynner, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, May 19, 2014.
- "At the Touch of You"
- Witter Bynner in Modern American Poetry: "Train-Mates," "A Farmer Remembers Lincoln"
- Witter Bynner in The New Poetry: An anthology: "To Celia: I. Consummation," "To Celia II. During a Chorale by Cesar Frank," "To Celia III: Songs Ascending," "Grieve Not for Beauty"
- Poetry Samples (8 poems).
- Bynner in Poetry: A magazine of verse, 1912-1922: "Apollo Troubadour," "One of the Crowd," "Neighbors," "The Hills of San Jose," "Grieve Not for Beauty," "The Mystic," "Passing Near," "To Celia," "Passages from a Poem: The New World," "A Thrush in the Moonlight," "A Mocking-Bird," "The Dead Loon," "To No One in Particular," "At the Touch of You," "The Earth-Clasp," "He Brought Us Clover-leaves," "Wisdom," "Ecce Homo," "The Farewell," "This Man," "The Enchanted Tool," "The Sand-piper," "Grass-tops"
- Witter Bynner 1881-1968 at the Poetry Foundation.
- translations by Bynner & Kiang Kung-hu in Poetry: A magazine of verse: "Answering Vice-prefect Chang," "Bound Home to Mount Sung," "A Message to P'ai Ti," "On the Way to the Temple," "Mount Chung-Nan," "A View of the Han River," "In My Lodge at Wang-Ch'uan after a Long Rain," "My Retreat at Chung-Nan," "In a Retreat Among Bamboos," "Lines," "A Parting," "A Song at Wei-ch'eng," "The Beautiful Hsi-Shih," "A Song of Young Girls from Lo-yang," "Harmonizing a Poem by Palace Attendant Kuo," "A Green Stream"
- Witter Bynner at PoemHunter (27 poems)
- Audio /video
- Witter Bynner (1881-1968) bio at the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry
- Witter Bynner (1881-1968) at Gay Bears
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