Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Poetry - Edna St Vincent Millay

Another sonnet from Millay's first collection, Renascence and other poems. I love the way we're just dropped into a situation, one of those imaginings that we all have (if we're the worrying sort) about a loved one. It reminds me of the scene in Waterloo Bridge, where Myra (Vivien Leigh) sees the newspaper report of Roy's death while she's waiting to meet his mother in a teashop & has to try to look as though nothing is wrong. I must watch that movie again, it's one of my favourites.

If I should learn, in some quite casual way,   
    That you were gone, not to return again—   
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,   
    Held by a neighbor in a subway train,   
How at the corner of this avenue           
    And such a street (so are the papers filled)   
A hurrying man—who happened to be you—   
    At noon to-day had happened to be killed,   
I should not cry aloud—I could not cry   
    Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place—           
I should but watch the station lights rush by   
    With a more careful interest on my face,   
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care   
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair


  1. This is my favourite poem of hers - that blend of pathos and mercilessness... I think I have a bio of EStVM here somewhere which I really must read.

    1. Is the biography by Nancy Milford? I would love to read that as well but I'm trying not to buy books at the moment. Vain hope, I know! I'll probably give in quite soon.