Category Archives: Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Poet’s Wit

EdnaStVincentMillayApr2013
New England poet (Rockland, Maine) Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950) is someone whose almost Dorothy Parker-like wit and soulful depth can be quoted in bits and pieces with some satisfaction. With a complexity that moves beyond flippancy, her verse maneuvers itself in unexpected ways, sometimes leaving the reader in a quandary. I, for one, have been startled by Ms. Millay’s frankness and unexpected gravity as if she’s whimsical and chiding both at the same time.

Here are two poems of hers…

First Fig
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It will give a lovely light!

from A Few Figs From Thistles (1920)

Love is Not All

Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again.
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release
or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.

Also known as Sonnet XXX from
Fatal Interview (1931)
 

FewFigsfromThistlesApr2013

Sonnet 03: Mindful Of You The Sodden Earth In Spring

vernal_equinox_card

Mindful of you the sodden earth in spring,
And all the flowers that in the springtime grow,
And dusty roads, and thistles, and the slow
Rising of the round moon, all throats that sing
The summer through, and each departing wing,
And all the nests that the bared branches show,
And all winds that in any weather blow,
And all the storms that the four seasons bring.

You go no more on your exultant feet
Up paths that only mist and morning knew,
Or watch the wind, or listen to the beat
Of a bird’s wings too high in air to view,—
But you were something more than young and sweet
And fair,—and the long year remembers you.

–Edna St. Vincent Millay (American poet, Rockland, Maine,1892-1950)