Two Races

(notes by Philip Holberton)


This poem was first published in the Morning Post (London), on December 20th 1927, and in Liberty (New York) on March 31st, 1928, with one of the articles from his travels in Brazil,  “A World Apart”. It is listed in ORG as no 1153.

Itr is collected in:

  • Brazilian Sketches (1940)
  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • The Sussex Edition vol xxxv (1939)
  • The Burwash Edition vol xxviii (1941)
  • The Cambridge Edition (2013) Ed. Pinney, p. 1421

The poem

This poem considers how two races of men, differing in birth and background, can get on very well when they meet. But they are still glad to get back among their own people.

Notes on the Text

[Verse 1]

Our Heavens: we have lived under different stars – either literally or in the sense of popular astrology.

differing years: we have had different experiences in life.

[Verse 2]

Our daysprings: our births

our timeless dead: our heredity.

sundered at the fountainhead: our lives have been different, like two streams flowing from different springs.

Pole from Pole     Compare “the ends of the earth” in ll.  “The Ballad of East and West'”, a poem with a related theme.

[Verse 3]

When we meet, we can show each other the deep feelings that we usually hide from our family and friends.

[Verse 4]

A list of the sort of things we might discuss with a stranger but would never talk about at home.

[Verse 5]

It is good to meet the other race for a short time – a moment’s space – but we hurry to get home.

©Philip Holberton 2017 All rights reserved