Sonnets (1923)

Original Text: 
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Sonnets," The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems (New York and London: Harper, 1923): 60-61, 70-71. 6th printing. PS 3525 I495H3 Robarts Library.
1.1Oh, oh, you will be sorry for that word!
1.2Give back my book and take my kiss instead.
1.3Was it my enemy or my friend I heard,
1.4"What a big book for such a little head!"
1.5Come, I will show you now my newest hat,
1.6And you may watch me purse my mouth and prink!
1.7Oh, I shall love you still, and all of that.
1.8I never again shall tell you what I think.
1.9I shall be sweet and crafty, soft and sly;
1.10You will not catch me reading any more:
1.11I shall be called a wife to pattern by;
1.12And some day when you knock and push the door,
1.13Some sane day, not too bright and not too stormy,
1.14I shall be gone, and you may whistle for me.
2.1Here is a wound that never will heal, I know,
2.2Being wrought not of a dearness and a death,
2.3But of a love turned ashes and the breath
2.4Gone out of beauty; never again will grow
2.5The grass on that scarred acre, though I sow
2.6Young seed there yearly and the sky bequeath
2.7Its friendly weathers down, far underneath
2.8Shall be such bitterness of an old woe.
2.9That April should be shattered by a gust,
2.10That August should be levelled by a rain,
2.11I can endure, and that the lifted dust
2.12Of man should settle to the earth again;
2.13But that a dream can die, will be a thrust
2.14Between my ribs forever of hot pain.
3.1I, being born a woman and distressed
3.2By all the needs and notions of my kind,
3.4Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
3.5To bear your body's weight upon my breast:
3.6So subtly is the fume of life designed,
3.7To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
3.8And leave me once again undone, possessed.
3.9Think not for this, however, the poor treason
3.10Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
3.11I shall remember you with love, or season
3.12My scorn with pity, -- let me make it plain:
3.13I find this frenzy insufficient reason
3.14For conversation when we meet again.
4.1What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
4.2I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
4.3Under my head till morning; but the rain
4.4Is full of ghosts to-night, that tap and sigh
4.5Upon the glass and listen for reply,
4.6And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
4.7For unremembered lads that not again
4.8Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
4.9Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
4.10Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
4.11Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
4.12I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
4.13I only know that summer sang in me
4.14A little while, that in me sings no more.


3.3] propinquity: nearness, kinship. Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
VIII, in Vanity Fair (April 1922); IX, in Vanity Fair (Nov. 1920); XVIII, in Poetica Erotica, ed. T. R. Smith (1921): 303; XIX, in Vanity Fair (Nov. 1920)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.