Sunday, April 22, 2012

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I wonder how many times my mother has uttered this prayer for me. Do all mothers of daughters whisper this prayer? What a strange and beautiful world we live in.  

Prayer to Persephone 
Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be:
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee:
Say to her, "My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here." 

I remember the moment this poem struck me when I was but a tender-hearted college freshman. Strange how the words connote the same wistfulness but have a different meaning now; how bittersweet all the years that both connect and estrange me from that dreary winter morning have been. 

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (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.

Right from Wikipedia to my blog! Yehaw: 

Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – October 19, 1950) was an American lyrical poet, playwright and feminist.[1] She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry,[2] and was known for her activism and her many love affairs. She used the pseudonymNancy Boyd for her prose work. The poet Richard Wilbur asserted, "She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century."[3]

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