Edna reflects on my 56th birthday

 Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  I was raised with the saying “When you lose your laugh, you lose your footing.” to remind me to find humor in life.  It has served me well.   But here is another caveat, which no person -so much as life itself – taught me:  “Without poetry, you lose your direction.”  for poetry distills and condenses wisdom for dispersion like no other medium (excepting perhaps poetry set to music – the song).   Last week, on my 56th birthday, I celebrated with an old love, Edna St. Vincent Millay (she called herself “Vincent”) – a red haired Pultzer Prize winning poet “with a mouth like a valentine” – who shocked America during both world wars:  example when she mourned the Czechoslovak city of Lidice, the site of a Nazi massacre, in the New York Times – tough reading at the time, and still today.

     “The whole world holds in its arms today
     The murdered village of Lidice,
     Like the murdered body of a little child.”

 

But here following are two fabulous poems for you to enjoy today:  her unique humor and wit and deft sense of self. 

 

 

WHAT LIPS MY LIPS HAVE KISSED

 

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 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.

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay

and…

 

I, BEING BORN A WOMAN AND DISTRESSED 

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

to 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.

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

 

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