Please summarize "By the Waters of Babylon."

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stephen Vincent Benet's "By the Waters of Babylon" tells the story of the Forest People and the Hill People and the reawakening that occurs when the narrator of the story visits a land far from his own. The superstitious people are forbidden from traveling east across the great river, but the narrator undertakes a great journey to find the true meaning of the "Dead Place." After traveling for eight days, he crosses the great river and enters the "Place of the Gods." Here he finds an ancient city in ruins, bordered by crumbling bridges and towers, where wild animals roam and birds fly above. He discovers a "dead god" overlooking the city, but he finally realizes the god is but a statue, and the city is the remains of New York. His discovery of the origins of the city and the realization that it was destroyed through a great fire from the skies will allow him to teach his people the true story of the "Dead Place." It will mark a new beginning for both this great new priest and his people.