v


We have gone too far; we do not know how to stop; impetus
Is all we have. And we share it with the pushed Inert.

We are clever, -- we are as clever as monkeys; and some of us
Have intellect, which is our danger, for we lack intelligence
And have forgotten instinct.

Progress -- progress is the dirtiest word in the language--who ever told us --
And made us believe it - - that to take a step forward was necessarily, was always
A good idea? In this unlighted cave, one step forward
That step can be the down-step into the Abyss.
But we, we have no sense of direction; impetus
Is all we have; we do not proceed, we only
Roll down the mountain,
Like disbalanced boulders, crushing before us many
Delicate springing things, whose plan it was to grow.

Clever, we are, and inventive, -- but not creative;
For, to create, one must decide -- the cells must decide -- what form,
What colour, what sex, how many petals, five, or more than five,
Or less than five.

But we, we decide nothing: the bland Opportunity
Presents itself, and we embrace it, -- we are so grateful
When something happens which is not directly War;
For we think -- although of course, now we very seldom
Clearly think--
That the other side of War is Peace.

We have no sense; we only roll downhill. Peace
Is the temporary beautiful ignorance that War
Somewhere progresses.

Edna St. Vincent Millay


v

(From an unfinished poem)

As sharp as in my childhood, still
Ecstasy shocks me fixed. The will
Cannot entice it, never could,
So never tries. But from the wood
The wind will hurl the clashing sleet;
Or a small fawn with lovely feet,
Uncertain in its gait, will walk
Among the ferns, not breaking back
One frond, not bruising one fern black,
Into the clearing, and appraise
With mild, attracted, wondering gaze,
And lifted head unhurt and new,
This world that he was born into.

Such marvels as, one time, I feared
Might go, and leave me unprepared
For hardship. But they never did.
They blaze before me still, as wild
And clear, as when I was a child.
They never went away at all.
I need not, though I do, recall
Such moments in my childhood, when
Wonder sprang out at me again,
And took me by the heels, and whirled
Me round and round above the world.

For wonder leaps upon me still,
And makes me dizzy, makes me ill,
But never frightened - for I know -
Not where - but in whose hands I go:
The lovely fingers of Delight
Have hold of me and hold me tight.

Edna St. Vincent Millay


v


Intention to Escape from Him

I think I will learn some beautiful language, useless for commercial
Purposes, work hard at that.
I think I will learn the Latin name of every songbird, not only in
America but wherever they sing.
(Shun meditation, though; invite the controversial:
Is the world flat? Do bats eat cats?) By digging hard I might
deflect that river, my mind, that uncontrollable thing,
Turgid and yellow, srong to overflow its banks in spring,
carrying away bridges
A bed of pebbles now, through which there trickles one clear
narrow stream, following a course henceforth nefast -

Dig, dig; and if I come to ledges, blast.

Edna St. Vincent Millay


v


SONNETS FROM AN UNGRAFTED TREE

xli

I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear you body's weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clairfy the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity, -- let me make it plain:
I find ths frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

v

SOUVENIR

Just a rainy day or two
In a windy tower,
That was all I had of you --
Saving half an hour.

Marred by greeting passing groups
In a cinder walk,
Near some naked blackberry hoops
Dim with purple chalk.
I remember three or four
Things you said in spite,
And an ugly coat you wore,
Plaided black and white.

Just a rainy day or two
And a bitter word.
Why do I remember you
As a singing bird?

v

THE GOOSE-GIRL

Spring rides no horses down the hill,
But comes on foot, a goose-girl still.
And all the loveliest things there be
Come simply, so, it seems to me.
If ever I said, in grief or pride,
I tired of honest things, I lied:
And should be cursed forevermore
With Love in laces, like a whore,
And neighbours cold, and friends unsteady,
And Spring on horseback, like a lady!




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