Edna St. Vincent Millay


“My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends – it gives a lovely light!”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Several years ago, I placed poetry on the top of my reading list.  I wanted to experience the phrasing and dynamics beyond the words on paper.  My wish was granted.  I listened to the voices of the poets by way of an audio book.  That year, poetry came alive through the conduit of sound.  The thoughts, images and ideas resonated and brought new meaning to the power of verse.  Every year, I take the time to “rehear” the poems.  They are as fresh the second and third time as the first hearing.

Edna St. Vincent Millay was a free spirit who gloried in the bohemian lifestyle.  Her background in theatre added drama and excitement to her readings. When she recited, Recuedo, I could see her going back and forth on the ferry – young, vibrant, carefree.  A reminder to all, that life is about the moment.


We were very tired, we were very merry—

We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—

But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,

We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;

And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—

We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;

And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,

From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;

And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,

And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,

We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,

And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;

And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,

And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.


Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

23 thoughts on “Edna St. Vincent Millay

  1. Such a lovely poem. I’m just beginning to love and understand poetry, I still can’t write any of my own but perhaps one day I will be truly inspired enough to write something I can put into print for others to see. I’m enjoying this blog very much.


    1. Thank you so much for your heartwarming comments. I am glad that you liked the poem. Even though I do not have the gift of writing poetry, I have the gift of enjoying poetry. Your visit was much appreciated.


    1. She certainly had a way with words – she used simplicity to highlight complex ideas! I think that you would appreciate this quote: “The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.”


      1. That is absolutely beautiful. You’re so right about her ability to distill a complex idea in simple language — and still manage to make that language artistically compelling. Truly a gift…


    1. I agree – I can see them eating the fruit going back and forth on the ferry. Their happiness came from the joy of being together, to sharing the moment, and not worrying about tomorrow. She once said that, “Beauty is whatever gives joy.” Now that is something to ponder…


    1. Thank you so much for this wonderful piece of information; it gives breadth and depth to the dialogue. Extraordinary!!!

      This being so,
      And I being such,
      I would liever go
      On a crippel’s crutch,
      Lopped and felled;
      Liever dependent
      On a chair propelled
      By a surly attendant
      Edna St Vincent Millay (1892-1950)


      1. Hi Rebecca, thank you for the link!

        I think there is no English translation and i doubt whether there will be; as the biography is nearly 1,000 pages, and Vasalis is not extremely well known in English speaking countries.


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