Wise Women Friday: Edna St Vincent Millay

Words of wisdom for a rainy day from the American poet Edna St Vincent Millay (1892-1950):

Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply....

Dear ghosts who tap and sigh upon the glass:

I get it.  You are waiting for a reply.  What do you want me to say?  "Go to the light?"  "Scooby-Doo, where are you?"  "I see dead people?" 

You poor lost souls: You've assembled the wrong cast.  I can't give you those words.  I have problems of my own. 

So tap away. I like the sound of rain.  I like the spirits it raises.  I see girls floating popsicle sticks down streaming gutters.  I see smiling, delighted desert-born faces staring up at the sky: What is this? Water?  From heaven?  Miraculous!  So, yes, tap and sigh, tap and sigh.  You don't scare me.  I'm not afraid.


Desiree said...

"what lips my lips have kissed, and where and why"

I love that sonnet you excerpted--
the entire thing is so moving--

Go wise woman!

Bec said...

I was waiting for Wise Women Friday! I'm feeling a little irritable and trying not to attribute it to the grey skies. I know the indoor coziness won't be back for months and months once summer kicks in with full force. Maybe once my grades get turned in, my mood will change.

Anonymous said...

I love this rain because it's unexpected and we won't see it again till December. On the other hand, I don't want to join others out on the oil slick freeway. I'm procrastinating walking out the door. Bet theres a goddess for that

Lynne said...

This was beautiful. I loved the part - "I see girls floating popsicle sticks down streaming gutters."

And, I agree, I love the sound of rain!

Margaret said...

Dez: I like that sonnet too. I read a great biography of Millay a few years back, but I don't remember much except that she tried very hard to live a full and passionate life.

Bec: Me too! I'm grading all day tomorrow and then it will be summer!

PA: I'm with you. I will enjoy every minute of June gloom.

Lynne: The girls I see there are you and me.

altadenahiker said...

God, I love her. Thanks for reminding me.

There sat my mother
With the harp against her shoulder
Looking nineteen
And not a day older,

A smile about her lips,
And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
Frozen dead.

And piled up beside her
And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king's son,
Just my size.

Margaret said...

AH: Wow.

JCK said...

Edna St. Vincent Millay was a very interesting character.

I love the girls and popsicle sticks.

Petrea said...

Get poetic. Poems, sonnets please. You, Margaret with your popsicle sticks. Karin. Edna. I'm in a mood for poetry.

Cafe Observer said...


Shell Sherree said...

A few weeks ago when the rain broke the drought in our region within a couple of hours of the skies opening, we lifted our smiling, delighted almost-desert-born faces to the sky and rejoiced; then a few hours later, girls were watching cars and houses floating down the streaming gutters, not popsicle sticks. {Not in our suburb, luckily, but in plenty of others.} Balance is a wonderful thing. {Ah, there's Nu Kua, waving to the passing boats from a nearby roof.}

Margaret said...

Pup: You're tought.

Petrea: Glad to see that the muse struck you too.

Shell: That's a whole different kind of storm. How sad for those families. Yes, I guess balance is everything. Nu Kua has her work cut out for her.

Shawna said...

My absolute favorite ESVM quote:

"I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one."

:) Lightening storms might be scary when I'm home alone and it's the wee hours of the morn, but we're in a drought and flowers need water to grow! So I guess I can put on a brave front for the posies.

Lynne said...

Do you remember when we used to go skiing and we sneak into the bar to grab drink stirrers because each one was a little plastic ski in a different color? Then we would race them down a snow covered hill in the parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Well done. My first visit here reminds me of my first kiss about 65 years ago.

Our Flower Pot

Margaret said...

Shawna: I'm so impressed that you and AH can just quote people like Millay. I wish I had that skill.

Lynne: I don't remember that, but I do remember when you slid down that hill head first and needed to get stitches.

Abe: Thanks for dropping by. What a lovely comment. I look forward to checking out your blog.

Anonymous said...