Thursday, January 5, 2006

The Female Form

Edna St. Vincent Miillay

Isn't she lovely? So is her poetry. Ladies and gentlemen, a selection of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Please read every word, breathe them in, let them soak into your being - you will not be the same.

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!

Sonnet XLIII
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Second Fig
Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

The Plaid Dress
Strong sun, that bleach
The curtains of my room, can you not render
Colourless this dress I wear?--
This violent plaid
Of purple angers and red shames; the yellow stripe
Of thin but valid treacheries; the flashy green of kind deeds done
Through indolence high judgments given here in haste;
The recurring checker of the serious breach of taste?

No more uncoloured than unmade,
I fear, can be this garment that I may not doff;
Confession does not strip it off,
To send me homeward eased and bare;

All through the formal, unoffending evening, under the clean
Bright hair,
Lining the subtle gown. . .it is not seen,
But it is there.

Sonnet V
Once more into my arid days like dew,
Like wind from an oasis, or the sound
Of cold sweet water bubbling underground,
A treacherous messenger, the thought of you
Comes to destroy me; once more I renew
Firm faith in your abundance, whom I found
Long since to be but just one other mound
Of sand, whereon no green thing ever grew.
And once again, and wiser in no wise,
I chase your colored phantom on the air,
And sob and curse and fall and weep and rise
And stumble pitifully on to where,
Miserable and lost, with stinging eyes,
Once more I clasp,–and there is nothing there

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