[Four Sonnets (1922)]

Original Text: 
Edna St. Vincent Millay, A Few Figs from Thistles: Poems and Sonnets (New York and London: Harper, 1922): 29-32. PS 3525 I495F4 Robarts Library.
1.1Love, though for this you riddle me with darts,
1.2And drag me at your chariot till I die, --
1.3Oh, heavy prince! Oh, panderer of hearts! --
1.4Yet hear me tell how in their throats they lie
1.5Who shout you mighty: thick about my hair,
1.6Day in, day out, your ominous arrows purr,
1.7Who still am free, unto no querulous care
1.8A fool, and in no temple worshiper!
1.9I, that have bared me to your quiver's fire,
1.10Lifted my face into its puny rain,
1.11Do wreathe you Impotent to Evoke Desire
1.12As you are Powerless to Elicit Pain!
1.13(Now will the god, for blasphemy so brave,
2.1I think I should have loved you presently,
2.2And given in earnest words I flung in jest;
2.3And lifted honest eyes for you to see,
2.4And caught your hand against my cheek and breast;
2.5And all my pretty follies flung aside
2.6That won you to me, and beneath your gaze,
2.7Naked of reticence and shorn of pride,
2.8Spread like a chart my little wicked ways.
2.9I, that had been to you, had you remained,
2.10But one more waking from a recurrent dream,
2.11Cherish no less the certain stakes I gained,
2.12And walk your memory's halls, austere, supreme,
2.13A ghost in marble of a girl you knew
2.14Who would have loved you in a day or two.
3.1Oh, think not I am faithful to a vow!
3.2Faithless am I save to love's self alone.
3.3Were you not lovely I would leave you now:
3.4After the feet of beauty fly my own.
3.5Were you not still my hunger's rarest food,
3.6And water ever to my wildest thirst,
3.7I would desert you -- think not but I would! --
3.8And seek another as I sought you first.
3.9But you are mobile as the veering air,
3.10And all your charms more changeful than the tide,
3.11Wherefore to be inconstant is no care:
3.12I have but to continue at your side.
3.13So wanton, light and false, my love, are you,
3.14I am most faithless when I most am true.
4.1I shall forget you presently, my dear,
4.2So make the most of this, your little day,
4.3Your little month, your little half a year,
4.4Ere I forget, or die, or move away,
4.5And we are done forever; by and by
4.6I shall forget you, as I said, but now,
4.7If you entreat me with your loveliest lie
4.8I will protest you with my favorite vow.
4.9I would indeed that love were longer-lived,
4.10And vows were not so brittle as they are,
4.11But so it is, and nature has contrived
4.12To struggle on without a break thus far, --
4.13Whether or not we find what we are seeking
4.14Is idle, biologically speaking.


1.14] The "shaft" comes from Cupid's bow but is also bawdy. Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
I, in The Dial (March 1920); II, in Reedy's Mirror (May 13, 1920); III, in Reedy's Mirror (May 6, 1920): IV, in Reedy's Mirror (April 29, 1920)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.