Tuesday, February 28, 2012

POETRY: Read More, Blog More #2

Last month Jillian, at A Room of One's Own, posted the Emily Dickinson poem that has graced my office wall for years: There's a Certain Slant of Light . . . 

This led to thoughts of it's companion above my well used secretary: Fig One, or My candle burns at both ends . . . 

Of course, this led me back to my first discovery of Ms Edna St. Vincent Millay, . . . and today's offering.

Still with me? I realize the path through my mind can be winding, with steep drop offs and sharp switchbacks, but if you stick close you should be OK. 

Just don't talk to the dwarf in the red jacket - whatever you do.

Where was I? Oh. 

For my thirteenth birthday I received two books of Ms Millay's poetry from my mother: Collected Lyrics and Sonnets. It was in this second book that I made what was for an adolescent, a life changing discovery.

Like everyone else who ever drew a breath, I had always known I was a freak.  

And then I read this:

I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed  
 - Edna St. Vincent Millay
I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
bear your body's weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity, - let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.

Wow! Here is an old woman (What did I know? I was a kid!) claiming her right to pleasure while disavowing any need for fidelity

- in a sonnet no less!

I may have been a confused adolescent, but I was beginning to realize something important. I wasn't the only person who felt the way I did. I came across my burgeoning self-awareness, and erotica, all in the same slim volume of poetry.

Years later, it still makes me smile. And I realize that we all think we're the only one.

And none of us really is.

Painting: Lust by NADIA BELTEI.


  1. What I love about this post is a sense of poetry in the meandering thought process

  2. What raw emotion! I'm discovering Edna St. Vincent Millay as an "old woman". I can only imagine the power that would have had on an adolescent.

    1. I was always a rather naive kid, so I didn't realize the full import of the words 'till years later.

  3. huh. I had to read it twice.

    1. It's worth it. Stay as long as you like.

  4. I still think I'm the only one. Kind of like Monty Python puts it in the movie The Life of Brian: "You are all individuals!"
    "Wait a minute. I don't think I am."

    1. My husband's all time favorites - Monty Python. I swear I know some of the skits by heart from simple osmosis.

  5. I have never read Edna St. Vincent Milay before. I am thinking I should! Thanks for joining in!

    1. Thank you much for the warm welcome.

  6. I was thinking the exact same thing as Serena, that the post itself was like a poem.

    1. Thank you so much.

      I love words, everything about them. And I tend to work each thing that I write until each word, down to syllable and meter, feels right. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But I always appreciate the feedback.

  7. I love Edna St. Vincent Millay. Thank you for sharing this poem. I love the personal story you shared as well. Thank you for participating!

    1. You are very welcome. And thank you for the forum to participate in, and the challenge to do so.

  8. Your mom is awesome, that's all I can say. What a perfect gift for a thirteen year old! Thanks for sharing the poem and the painting. I loved them!

    1. She was great. Every gift giving occasion was a chance to receive books. And she never restricted my choices in reading material. She believed in communication rather than censorship. I passed this on to my children, who in turn, passed it on to theirs.