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Three by Millay V

Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

October—An Etching

There where the woodcock his long bill among the alders
Forward in level flight propels,
Tussocks of faded grass are islands in the pasture swamp
Where the small foot, if it be light as well, can pass
Dry-shod to rising ground.

Not so the boot of the hunter.
Chilly and black and halfway to the knee
Is the thick water there, heavy wading,
Uneven to the step; there the more cautious ones,
Pausing for a moment, break their guns.
There the white setter ticked with black
Sets forth with silky feathers on the bird's track
And wet to his pink skin and half his size comes back.

Cows are pastured there; they have made a path among the alders.
By now the keeper's boy has found
The chalk of the woodcock on the trampled ground.

(from Wine from These Grapes)

Mist in the Valley

These hills, to hurt me more,
That am hurt already enough,—
Having left the sea behind,
Having turned suddenly and left the shore
That I had loved beyond all words, even a song's words, to convey,

And built me a house on upland acres,
Sweet with the pinxter, bright and rough
With the rusty blackbird long before the winter's done,
But smelling never of bayberry hot in the sun,
Nor ever loud with the pounding of the long white breakers,—

These hills, beneath the October moon,
Sit in the valley white with mist
Like islands in a quiet bay,

Jut out from shore into the mist,
Wooded with poplar dark as pine,
Like points of land into a quiet bay.

(Just in that way
The harbour met the bay)

Stricken too sore for tears,
I stand, remembering the Islands and the sea's lost sound....
Life at its best no longer than the sand-peep's cry,
And I two years, two years,
Tilling an upland ground!

(from Poems Selected for Young People)

When the Year Grows Old

I cannot but remember
When the year grows old—
October—November—
How she disliked the cold!

She used to watch the swallows
Go down across the sky,
And turn from the window
With a little sharp sigh.

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget—
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net!

Oh, beautiful at nightfall
The soft spitting snow!
And beautiful the bare boughs
Rubbing to and fro!

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her!

I cannot but remember
When the year grows old—
October—November—
How she disliked the cold!

(from Renascence)

Collected Poems (1956), ed. Norma Millay, pp. 273, 223, 49.

See also Three by Millay IV: Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Sun. 10/31/04 07:04:41 AM
Categorized as Literary & Sunday Poetry Series.

   
         
         

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