28+ quotes from Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Quotes from Collected Poems

Edna St. Vincent Millay ·  768 pages

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Time Does Not Bring Relief

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“After all, my erstwhile dear,
My no longer cherished,
Need we say it was not love,
Just because it perished?”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


Love is Not All

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“Lost in Hell,-Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee;
Say to her, "My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“This book, when I am dead, will be
A little faint perfume of me.
People who knew me well will say,
She really used to think that way.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“Stranger, pause and look;
From the dust of ages
Lift this little book,
Turn the tattered pages,
Read me, do not let me die!
Search the fading letters finding
Steadfast in the broken binding
All that once was I!”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“We were so wholly one I had not thought
That we could die apart. I had not thought
That I could move,—and you be stiff and still!
That I could speak,—and you perforce be dumb!
I think our heart-strings were, like warp and woof
In some firm fabric, woven in and out;
Your golden filaments in fair design
Across my duller fibre.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“I shall think of you
Whenever I am most happy, whenever I am Most sad, whenever I see a beautiful thing.
You are a burning lamp to me, a flame
The wind cannot blow out, and I shall hold you High in my hand against whatever darkness.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


To Those Without Pity

Cruel of heart, lay down my song.
Your reading eyes have done me wrong.
Not for you was the pen bitten,
And the mind wrung, and the song written.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“To a Young Poet

Time cannot break the bird's wing from the bird.
Bird and wing together
Go down, one feather.

No thing that ever flew,
Not the lark, not you,
Can die as others do.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“The undercurrent of my every thought:
To seek you, find you, have you for my own.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“...but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply...”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and I could see, --
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a miracle
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, --
I know not how such things can be! --
I breathed my soul back into me.
Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;
Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“If in the moonlight from the silent bough
Suddenly with precision speak your name
The nightingale, be not assured that now
His wing is limed and his wild virtue tame.
Beauty beyond all feathers that have flown
Is free; you shall not hood her to your wrist,
Nor sting her eyes, nor have her for your own
In any fashion; beauty billed and kissed
Is not your turtle; tread her like a dove -
She loves you not; she never heard of love.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“I have learned to fail. And I have had my say.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“Learn to love blackness while there is yet time, blackness
Unpatterned, blackness without horizons.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“A infância não vai do nascimento até certa idade,e a certa altura a criança está crescida,deixando de lado as coisas de criança.A infância é o reino onde ninguém morre.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


Time, That Is Pleased to Lengthen out the Day

Time, that is pleased to lengthen out the day
For grieving lovers parted or denied,
And pleased to hurry the sweet hours away
From such as lie enchanted side by side,
Is not my kinsman; nay, my feudal foe
Is he that in my childhood was the thief
Of all my mother's beauty, and in woe
My father bowed, and brought our house to grief.
Thus, though he think to touch with hateful frost
Your treasured curls, and your clear forehead line,
And so persuade me from you, he has lost;
Never shall he inherit what was mine.
When Time and all his tricks have done their worst,
Still will I hold you dear, and him accurst.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“For men that are afraid to die
Must warm their hands before a lie;
The fire that's built of What is Known
Will chill the marrow in the bone.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“I do believe the most of me
Floats under water; and men see
Above the wave a jagged small
Mountain of ice, and that is all.
Only the depths of other peaks

May know my substance when it speaks,
And steadfast through the grinding jam
Remain aware of what I am.
Myself, I think, shall never know
How far beneath the wave I go.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


Even in the Moment of Our Earliest Kiss

Even in the moment of our earliest kiss,
When sighed the straitened bud into the flower,
Sat the dry seed of most unwelcome this;
And that I knew, though not the day and hour.
Too season-wise am I, being country-bred,
To tilt at autumn or defy the frost:
Snuffing the chill even as my fathers did,
I say with them, "What’s out tonight is lost."
I only hoped, with the mild hope of all
Who watch the leaf take shape upon the tree,
A fairer summer and a later fall
Than in these parts a man is apt to see,
And sunny clusters ripened for the wine:
I tell you this across the blackened vine.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“Oh, the things I haven’t seen and the things I haven’t known,
What with hedges and ditches till after I was grown,
And yanked both ways by my mother and my father,
With a "Which would you better?" and a "Which would you rather?"

With him for a sire and her for a dam,
What should I be but just what I am?”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“If you walk east at daybreak from the town
To the cliff’s foot, by climbing steadily
You cling at noon whence there is no way down
But to go toppling backward to the sea.
And not for birds nor birds’ eggs, so they say,
But for a flower that in these fissures grows,
Forms have been seen to move throughout the day
Skyward; but what its name is no one knows.
’Tis said you find beside them on the sand
This flower, relinquished by the broken hand.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“Lie down beside these waters
That bubble from the spring;
Hear in the desert silence
The desert sparrow sing;

Draw from the shapeless moment
Such pattern as you can;
And cleave henceforth to Beauty;
Expect no more from man.

Man, with his ready answer,
His sad and hearty word,
For every cause in limbo,
For every debt deferred,

For every pledge forgotten,
His eloquent and grim
Deep empty gaze upon you,—
Expect no more from him.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“Sorrow like a ceaseless rain
Beats upon my heart.
People twist and scream in pain,—
Dawn will find them still again;
This has neither wax nor wane,
Neither stop nor start.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“What can I give for
Your knowledge
Of when to expand
And when to contract—
This instructed, more academic college
Of when to act?”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


“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.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay, quote from Collected Poems


About the author

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Born place: in Rockland, Maine, The United States
Born date February 22, 1892
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