Thursday, December 08, 2005

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)

Edna St. Vincent Millay, born in 1892, was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, in 1923, for her fourth book of poetry. Millay's command of the sonnet was distinctive as she shaped her sonnets with powerful lyrical music and personal voice.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)
Edna St. Vincent Millay

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.

From _Collected Poems_ by Edna St. Vincent Millay, published by Harper & Brothers Publishers. Copyright © 1956 by Norma Millay Ellis.

2 comments:

Rebekah said...

Chella, this poem has me weeping. Don't ask me why... I love her poetry, but haven't read this one before.

Hope all is well where you are.

Ann said...

Hi Chella,
I found this too, about a year ago (longer maybe) and was moved to put it in my first blog. There's something about its ambiguity that reminds me of Emily D.