Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Sonnet V - Edna St Vincent Millay

If I should learn, in some quite casual way,
  That you were gone, not to return again --
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
  Held by a neighbor in a subway train,
How at the corner of this avenue
  And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man -- who happened to be you --
  At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud -- I could not cry
  Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place --
I should but watch the station lights rush by
  With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair.

When I was growing up, Edna St Vincent Millay's sonnets were the first modern sonnets I can remember encountering. I was in my very early teens and I read her work as much for glimpses of the woman I might become and the mysterious world of adult relationships as I did for her language. When I read her poems now, I can still visualise that hardbook book and the way I read each poem aloud slowly, reading the clues to a future self.

Waltz over to the Tuesday Poem Blog to read more Tuesday poems.  


Elizabeth Welsh said...

Poetry means so much more when you hear someone speak about their relationship to it - that's how I felt reading your nostalgic memories of Millay's sonnets, Catherine. I really admire her sonnets as well - it's such a hard form to write within its constraints and not come off sounding compromised. Thanks for posting!

Cattyrox said...

Thanks Elizabeth - glad to know another Millay admirer!

Kathleen Jones said...

I've always loved Millay's sonnets. this was one I hadn't remembered. Thanks Catty!