Friday, September 18, 2009

Sonnet, a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Post 328 - Poems on the London Underground was launched in 1986. The program was the brainchild of American writer Judith Chernaik, whose aim was to bring poetry to the wide ranging audience of passengers (more than four million journeys are made each day). Chernaik, together with poets Cicely Herbert and Gerard Benson, continue to select poets and poems for inclusion in the program. Here is one of them:

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950) was an American lyrical poet and playwright and the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She graduated from Vassar College in 1917 and moved to New York City. In 1943 she was awarded the Frost Medal for her lifetime contribution to American poetry. She was the sixth recipient of that award, and the second woman to be so honored. She was well known for her unconventional, bohemian lifestyle and her many love affairs. Her best-known poem is probably "First Fig," published in 1920:

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!

She believed that, “Beauty is whatever gives joy.” Here's a poem of hers that I really like:

Sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay

What 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 at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the 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.

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