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Saturday, March 18, 2006

I'm in Love

I've been writing an essay for my Modernisms class this week and it has lead me to some sweet poetry. I have for you here some poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Too bad this lovely and charming modernist is long gone. The sad thing is, she fell from fame long before her death in 1950. Many wonder why she withdrew into a decade of drug and alcohol abuse. I think it is quite obvious that she asked all the right questions but failed to ever find a sufficient answer to them. Maybe if I lived in the 1920s we could have dated and maybe she wouldn't have done it. Oh well, she left behind lots of gems. Here are some.


We were very tired, we were very merry—

We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—

But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,

We lay on a hilltop underneath the moon;

And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—

We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;

And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,

From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;

And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,

And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry—

We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

We hailed, "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,

And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;

And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and the pears,

And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.


Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?

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

ps. if you noticed sexual resonances in "Recuerdo", I think you're right. Oh, and "Recuerdo" is Spanish for Rememberance, or souvenir.


Blogger JLF said...

What does "sky went wan" mean?

Sorry, non-english major here...

6:45 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

First Fig is one of my favourite poems of all time! You found it! My candle burns at both ends...

I also love its sister poem called "Second Fig":

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand
Come see my shining palace built upon the sand

Both are about living life to the fullest. She would rather have a short exciting life than a long and dull one. I guess though that in the end it did not serve her well - her candle melted and her palace was washed away.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Son of Man said...

Wan: unnaturally pale; usually caused by illness. Connotes weariness, or unhappiness. Melancholy.

7:38 PM  
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